Working your way through your baby’s first cold can be quite a challenge for all concerned. Not only is it horrible to see somebody so small and helpless feel so poorly, but they can become irritable, tired and fractious, struggling to settle down to sleep and leaving all of you feeling pretty exhausted. Watery eyes, snotty noses, sniffs, snuffles, sneezes and congestion can make your little one feel pretty rubbish, but there are some small steps you can take to try and alleviate (or at least reduce) the symptoms.
Here are my hints and tips to help your baby through their first cold:
- Give your baby lots of fluids – When your baby has a cold it is important to ensure that they stay as hydrated as possible. Feeding them in the upright position (and ideally keeping them upright for a short while afterwards too) will help avoid congestion and make it easier for them to breathe.
- If your baby has a really blocked nose and is really struggling, a small amount of saline nasal drops can help clear their airways, as will an application of vapour rub on their chest. As always, please ensure you check the individual packaging for suitability of these products based on your baby’s age.
- Elevate their head – When you have a cold, lying down can inevitably make the symptoms worse, so you may find that nap times and bedtime becomes a bit of a struggle, with baby waking lots of refusing to sleep at all. Lifting or raising the head of the cot or using a crib wedge to elevate their head slightly can help them breathe more easily, and makes it far easier for them to settle down and stay asleep.
- Keep an eye on their temperature. Whist most common colds get better without requiring medicine, if your baby has an extremely high fever, this could be a sign of something more serious and may require a visit to a doctor. The touch free or ear-based thermometers are ideal for checking your baby’s temperature without causing any distress or discomfort.
- Let them sleep – When your baby has a cold, you need to accept that your baby’s normal sleep and nap routines may go out the window. Sleep is a healer, so if they want to sleep for longer than normal, let them.
- Breastfeed on demand – If you are breastfeeding, continue to do so as often as your baby asks. You may find they want to feed more often than normal, particularly if their throat is sore as the milk will feel soothing and familiar. Incredibly, your exposure to the same cold (even if you haven’t fully succumbed to it yourself) can encourage your body to start creating antibodies to fight the infection, and these will be passed on through the milk as an immunity boost to your baby. How amazing is that?!
- Wear your baby – If your baby is struggling to settle down to sleep consider wearing your baby. Carrying your baby in a wrap or baby carrier will not only help them settle by being close and comforted by their Mom, but being upright will keep their airways as open as possible. It also means you look after your baby and still get some stuff done whilst they sleep.
- Warm bath before bed – A warm bath before bed (with lots of bubbles) can really help ease the symptoms of a cold. The vapour in the air of a warm bathroom can help clear their sinuses before they settle down to bed, and help them feel more calm and relaxed. Combined with a nice snuggly cuddle in a towel, it can be just the reassurance they need when they’re feeling a little out of sorts!
- Offer lots of reassurance and cuddles – their first cold can be a pretty confusing time, and your baby is likely to want lots of comfort from loved ones. Sit on the sofa and snuggle – this is a great opportunity to watch that boxset you’ve been meaning to catch up on!
- Ride it out. Your baby’s first cold can be a challenging time, but sadly colds in babies and toddlers are very common as their immune system grows and develops. The good news is that the worst of the symptoms should resolve after a few days, and they’ll soon be back to their normal happy little self!