Yup, we are deep in the throws of cold and flu season people. Talk about miserable. If you and your family haven’t gotten your flu shot it might be time to start thinking about it… That said, there really is no cure for the common cold… It can be debilitating or just annoying for us – but for our little ones it endlessly frustrating. They don’t understand what’s happening – they’re uncomfortable, congested and just plain miserable… Yes, you can always give them baby tylenol or, once they’re old enough, baby Motrin which helps… But, like many parents, I know I don’t feel particularly comfortable over medicating and I’m constantly in search of cold and flu solutions to make my little one more comfortable during illness… One solution are the Hylands baby tiny cold tablets which seem to help some and they’re homeopathic so I rest a bit easier!
If you are still breast feeding your little one – there is NO question that breast milk is not only the best for keeping a cold and flu at bay but also creating the antibodies for both you and your little one to fight these illnesses quickly and effectively. It is truly the miracle drug every pharmaceutical company wishes they could bottle.
Always be aware if your baby/child is acting different or uncomfortable – depending on their age they might not be able to tell you that they have a sore throat or are feeling achy… Its not too hard – you will know when they are congested or coughing or throwing up or have diarrhea – but make sure to monitor their temperature and don’t be afraid to take them to their pediatrician just to make sure its not a bacterial infection… Look for things like tugging at ears because this could be signs of an ear infection and if you’re child’s illness is bacterial it probably requires a course of antibiotics. In the event of vomiting and/or diarrhea the worry is dehydration so talk to your doctor about how to rehydrate. Breast milk, milk, water, pedialyte and gatorade may be good options depending on your little one’s age.
With the common cold – which in most cases is what your child has – its just a matter of waiting it out and making sure it doesn’t develop into and infection (kids often have colds that turn into ear infections). All you can do is try to make your little one as comfortable as possible during this time and here are some cold and flu solutions that I have found quite helpful during my little guy’s times of need.
The worst part about cold and flu can be the nasal congestion which just seems to last forever! We know that blowing our noses will help but try telling that to babies and toddlers who haven’t figured out blowing and will run a mile when then tissue comes out… So the best we can do is help get some of that snot out for them. This is best done with a saline nasal spray/drops which loosens the mucus and an aspirator to suck out the snot… Sometimes as an alternative to the nasal spray I will run the shower hot for awhile to steam up the bathroom and take some toys into there with my little guy and let the steam work its magic loosening up the mucus… and then of course follow up with the aspirator.
I also like to put one of his soft baby bibs on him while he has a runny nose – I use it to wipe up the snot as it comes out – I find this easier that trying to chase him with a tissue and much softer on his little baby nose… Of course make sure to change them throughout the day and wash them well!
Vapor rub is amazing at opening up nasal passages and allowing little one to sleep better. The baby rub formulas use essential oils like eucalyptus and lavender to help clear up congestion. I use the Vicks baby rub on his chest and back and on the soles of his feet and it really does help! Check on the age that you can start putting the rub on chest and back (some people like to wait until baby is a bit older to put it there) but for some reason applying this rub to the soles of the feet is incredibly effective!
A humidifier. This just adds a bit of moisture in the air to help loosen mucus and help reduce congestion. This is key to helping little one sleep more comfortably. It also has a nice hum to it and a little white noise never hurts! Some humidifiers (like the ones by Vicks) have scented pads which release a vapor into the air to help clear nasal passages.
For those who can’t be bothered with cleaning and refilling a humidifier there are also waterless options now which will release vapors into the air to help little one breathe more easily.
Elevating their heads. We all know about gravity, well the best way to try to make sure all that fluid that builds up in our heads during a cold drains downward is to elevate it. For children that are old enough for pillows – perhaps putting an extra pillow under there head could help. For those not old enough – there is an amazing wedge which you can put under little one’s mattress so that they are on a slight incline which will help with drainage…
Another solution would be to put a books or magazines under the legs of little one’s crib just to create a couple inches of incline.
Finally, one of the best cold and flu solutions is giving your little one as much TLC as possible – lists of cuddles, kisses, patience and love will give him or her comfort through the misery and its never the worst thing to have extra snuggles….