As a mother, there are few things worse than seeing your little one come down with a nasty cold, especially when they’re small babies. As hard as it can be to deal with though, it’s completely normal for your baby to catch a common cold just as adults do, and at an even greater frequency.
Studies have found that in the first year of life, babies will have between six to ten colds, and even more if other family members are in daycare or school. While we want to do everything we can to avoid them getting sick, in the long run, getting sick can actually benefit their immune system so they can grow into strong adults able to fight off these illnesses later in life.
Although we know that catching colds is an inevitable part of growing up, it doesn’t mean our babies should have to suffer. With that in mind, there are a few things you can do to make your baby more comfortable while they’re sick and ensure that you both continue to get the rest you need.
It might be hard to get baby to drink when they’re congested and stuffy, but your milk is exactly what they need right now. When our little ones become ill, our breastmilk has all of the right antibodies to help them recover or lessen the severity, so it’s essential to keep feeding them.
If they’re too snotty to drink, try offering smaller and more frequent feeds. This will ensure they stay fed and hydrated without having to exert too much energy with a larger drinking session. Any position where the baby doesn’t have to lie on their back is ideal, as this means their nasal passages will be clearer, making it easier for them to drink.
Use the Power of Steam
One of the best things for a cold is steam, and there are plenty of options for how to help your baby get some. The best idea is to run a hot shower and let your baby sit in the bathroom with you while they breathe it in, or use a vaporiser in the bedroom where they sleep. For those bubs who are especially blocked up and having trouble breathing through their nose, you could offer a breastfeed to them in the bathroom after letting the steam work its magic for a few minutes.
Keep Baby Upright
You likely already know from the countless colds you’ve encountered that lying flat on your back can cause you to feel more congested, and the same goes for your baby. If they’re sleeping in a cot, prop a towel under one end of the mattress, so they are lying on an angle which will help reduce this congested feeling and the potential dripping of phlegm that occurs in the throat.
For babies that are quite unwell, you might consider bringing them into the bed to sleep next to you so you’re able to offer them comfort through the evening. Through the night they want to breastfeed in smaller sessions and to promote breathing through their nose to clear the congestion.
Over the Counter Remedies
When all else fails, there are some excellent remedies available at your local chemist that have been designed for our sensitive babies. Nasal drops or spray are a great natural approach for anyone who doesn’t want to use strong medicine, and just a few sprays in the nose can help clear up congestion. For best results, try to do it five minutes before a feed and keep bubs lying down so the saline can work its way up the nostrils.
If your baby is particularly upset, you may want to administer infant paracetamol. This can help with the aches, fatigues, and headaches that sometimes occur during the common cold, but always be sure to check the label carefully and only administer the recommended amount for their weight and age.
When to Seek Help
Most colds should begin to ease after a week, but if you feel your baby is particularly unwell or doesn’t appear to be getting better then never hesitate to take them to the doctor. As mothers, we often know best when something isn’t right with our little ones so seek a second opinion if you’re concerned.
When our babies are so small, it can be hard to watch them suffer through a cold, but try to remind yourself that it’s all for the good of their strengthening immune system. Make things as comfortable as possible for them, offer extra snuggles, and you’ll find they usually get better within just a few days.
In the meantime, for other helpful parenting tips on life with a new baby, check out the rest of the Peachymama blog posts here.