Every parent tries to protect their new baby from getting sick. We ask friends and family to wash their hands before touching our baby, and we stay away from sick people whenever possible. There’s even a whole market of infant wellness products created to make parents feel like they’re doing the best they can to keep baby healthy if they buy these special nose wipes, this fancy thermometer, or those homeopathic remedies. But the simple truth is that babies can catch colds just like the rest of us, especially if exposed to siblings, cousins, or daycare buddies.
If your little one has the sniffles and you’re pretty sure their first battle with a cold has begun, don’t worry: there is a lot you can do to help them feel better and recover quickly. Read on for some tips on surviving this challenging time:
Tip #1: Prepare now! Don’t wait until midnight when your baby starts showing signs of congestion to make your Target run. Here are some of the products that we love:
Nasal aspirator. It sounds gross (and yes, it is) but nasal aspirators are super effective in clearing your baby’s nasal passages. This one from Frida Baby is a go-to for many of our families.
Saline spray. Saline nasal spray helps to loosen up mucus before using an aspirator. This Little Remedies brand is a good one!
Thermometer + fever reducers. Remember, only a rectal thermometer (placed less than 1 inch into your baby’s rectum) is recommended to accurately note a newborn’s temperature, though recent research has indicated that a temporal artery thermometer may also give accurate readings. Ask your pediatrician ahead of time what their recommendations are for both fever reducers and thermometer use.
Tip #2: Slow down the pace of your day. Stuffy noses usually mean unhappy babies. If you can, cut the non-essentials out of your schedule, and plan to stay home with your baby who will need extra care and snuggles.
Tip #3: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. It won’t come as a surprise that many of the strategies we use to work our own way through a cold apply to babies as well, and hydration is critically important in helping your baby to navigate her first cold. Whether you are breast or bottle feeding (or a combination), be sure to offer fluids often to your baby.
Tip #4: Soothe the sinuses. It’s hard to suck and breath at the same time, so congestion can make feedings complicated! Combining that with our ultra-dry winter months means that navigating a winter cold can be particularly difficult. Add more moisture to the air by using a cool mist humidifier in your baby’s sleeping space, or running a shower and hanging out in the steamy bathroom before and–if you can–during a feeding session.
Tip #5: Add in a little self-care. Caring for a sick little one is hard, emotionally draining work. If you can, get your little one down for a rest and take some time for you. Order in dinner, call a friend, find something on Netflix, and prioritize rest. Remember what flight attendants say about putting your mask on first before assisting others? This is one of those times. Take care for yourself so you can care for your baby.
Finally, remember that the average cold can take 7-10 days to resolve. Be patient and hang in there! Your pediatric provider should be your go-to resource through any of your baby’s first illnesses. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for guidance. You know your baby best and are her best advocate. You’ve got this!