Every spring I am reminded of my own seasonal allergies. This year, the allergies have kept me coughing and sniffling for weeks on end! Unfortunately, I noticed my daughter doing the same. She wakes up with hard boogers stuffed up her nose and can sometimes sound even a little “snarfly” when she breathes. We’re both miserable! Thankfully, I can find some allergy relief through continuous antihistamines and decongestants. My baby is out of luck; doctors don’t often offer treatment directly for allergies in babies. Some hope the kids will eventually outgrow the allergy. Others simply don’t want to treat an allergy that is merely annoying and not life-threatening.
Understanding Baby And Toddler Allergy Medicine
Allergy medicine can generally be divided into two different categories: first generation and second generation. First generation allergy medications include Benadryl. These medications are also used as sedatives; in fact, some are prescribed to treat insomnia! Because they work on the central nervous system, each person might react slightly differently to antihistamines.
In children, first-generation antihistamines are discouraged as they can cause an opposite effect from their normal sedative nature. For some reason, toddlers who take Benadryl are prone to irritability, mood swings, and hyperactivity. The short-lasting effects mean patients must take a new dose every four to six hours - that’s a lot of medicine! Some physicians recommend against Benadryl and its ilk for babies, even though the drug company makes an infant formula medication.
“The first-generation antihistamines have never been adequately studied for pediatric age groups, though they are still used in an apparently high percentage of such patients.” - Journal of Investigational Allergology and Clinical Immunology
Second-generation antihistamines do not act as quickly; take them once per day. These medications don’t cause drowsiness in the same way as Benadryl. Claritin and Zyrtec are commonly available and sometimes prescribed to children with serious chronic allergies.
Use A Humidifier And Nasal Spray
Without antihistamines to relieve allergy symptoms, babies and toddlers have woefully few available treatment options. Antihistamines resolve symptoms by working on the body’s allergic response to triggers - they treat the condition, not the symptoms. Since babies cannot take medicine that can treat the condition firstly, the focus for allergy-sufferers switches to symptom management.
My daughter wakes up with dried mucus on her nose - her nose is always running a little from the allergies of the changing season. It worries me to see this mucus make her feel stuffy or plug up her nose. I’ve found running a cool-mist humidifier while she sleeps has been the most helpful in easing nasal dryness. Humidifiers in nurseries can even prevent nosebleeds! For truly stuffy noses, try a nasal spray! Thinning mucus with saline makes it easier for your little one to clear their nose.
Saline Wipes Remove Boogers
Baby wipes are the most versatile, handy, underrated baby products of all time. No matter how old my children get, I will always carry baby wipes everywhere we go! In all honesty, I’ve only found one mess that is too stubborn for even baby wipes; boogers! It’s not just my kids - all kids are snot-faced germ buckets from time to time. When their noses are running like faucets, most toddlers will wipe the snot onto their face, where it gets hard and crusty. Once it dries, baby wipes don’t stand a chance! Saline wipes - like the Boogie Wipes brand - make it so much easier to clean boogers off of your kids’ face. Or yours.
Probiotics Can Reduce Allergy Symptoms
For the long-term payoff of allergy reduction, consider adding a probiotic to your child’s diet. Some companies produce specialized supplements for baby gut health. If you don’t want to spend loads of money, just try yogurt! Make sure the yogurt you’re feeding your baby has live and active cultures. These beneficial bacteria help us regulate our digestive system, which apparently helps us regulate our body’s immune response to allergic triggers. Fascinating!
If your baby seems to suffer from allergies, don’t fret! Even without traditional antihistamines, you can help your child feel better quickly. Try these remedies to soothe their symptoms without using traditional allergy medication. Better to be safe with baby medicine than to risk your child’s health.