What do you do if your baby has a cough or cold?
The experts now advise that a fever may help your child heal, as long as the temperature doesn’t climb too high. And cough medicines were recently pulled from the shelf because it is too easy to accidentally administer an overdose.
So, when your little one can’t get any rest–and neither can you–what’s a parent to do?
1. Clear Congestion: Many coughs are due to post nasal drip. The best way to clear up the cough is to clear out the mucus. Use saline nasal drops and an aspirator to keep that nose clear. At night when mucus settles, you may find that the cough worsens. Try slightly elevating the head of the bed or crib by raising the cribs legs or placing folded fabric under the mattress. (Do not place pillows in the crib with babies; make sure that the sleep surface is still safe and free of loose objects.)
Product recommendation: Three out of three Mamanista babies prefer the battery-operated Nasal Clear ($25) over bulb aspirators. The suction is more effective (you can see how well it works) and the aspirator is easy to clean. Well worth the money to keep an already sick baby from throwing a tantrum while you clear her nose.
2. Keep Air Moist: Humidity reduces irritation and loosens up mucus. Run a humidifier in your child’s bedroom. An inexpensive way to make your child more comfortable is to bring your child into the bathroom with you when you take a warm shower.
Product recommendation: If you want to go for a humidifier but are concerned about mold growth, check out the Germ Free Warm Mist Humidifier ($119.95), which destroys 99.999% of harmful germs, using an ultraviolet light germicidal chamber. We didn’t review this item but it sounds like a great solution for people who regularly use a humidifier.
3. Encourage Relaxation: Make sure your child’s favorite lovey is clean, keep the room temperature just right, and diffuse relaxing scents, like lavender. A nice massage, an oatmeal bath, or a favorite DVD can also work wonders.
Product recommendation: The Vapor-Eze Waterless Vaporizer with Aromatherapy ($25) gives you the benefits of a humidifier without using water–no need to worry about spills or mold. Plus, the pads come with calming natural oils like Lavender, which always helps me get some rest. I love this calming, inexpensive alternative to the humidifier.
4. Keep Track of Symptoms: Talk with your doctor about what symptoms are cause for serious concern and ask if there is a nurse’s on-call line for after hours questions. You are often the best judge of whether or not your child needs a doctor’s appointment. Any sudden change in behavior is more concerning than a low-grade temperature.
Product recommendations: Spot ear infections at home with the Ear Check ($70), which monitors for fluid in the middle ear using acoustic reflectometry. You’ll get a reading of “Fluid Unlikely,” “Monitor” or “Consult Doctor.” Ear Check will give you peace of mind and save you unnecessary visits to the doctor. Taking a fussy baby or squirmy toddler’s temperature is a challenge. We’ve had success in the past with a Pacifier Thermometer ($8 or try your local drugstore) and now we use the Exergen Temporal Scanner, which is non-invasive, quick, and accurate. You can buy the Exergen Temporal Scanner online at Drugstore.com ($49) or get it at Costco for $30.
5. Use Natural Remedies: Fluids keep your child hydrated. For babies, that means lots of breastmilk or formula. For older children, encourage them to drink water or natural juice without added sweetener. And don’t forget the chicken soup! For children age one year and older, honey is one of the best medicines. Remember, no honey under one year due to the risk of botulism. To relieve congestion in babies 6 months’ and older, try an all-natural chest rub with eucalyptus menthol.
Tip: Put the chest rub on the feet and put on socks–the heat will diffuse the natural vapors.
Product recommendation: Any honey from your local store will help relieve scratchy throats. For a chest rub, try Nature’s Baby Ah-Choo! Chest Rub ($11): award-winning, all-natural, and no petroleum or parabens. It’s a safer alternative to Vicks Vaporub, which can irritate skin and cause respiratory distress when inappropriately applied under the nose.
6. Stay Healthy: The top tip for avoiding illnesses in the first place is to wash hands thoroughly after playing and before eating (try singing a song to ensure a long enough cleaning) . If someone in the household is sick, wash hands more frequently, get lots of rest, and eat extra healthy to boost the immune system.
Product recommendations: You can’t avoid all germs, and some exposure may even boost the immune system. However, you don’t want your infant chewing on something his sick sibling or friend just slobbered all over. The Germ Guardian Nursery Sanitizer ($60) sanitizes small toys, teethers, pacifiers and bottles using dry heat. It’s particularly handy for cleaning the tiny stuffed animals my son insists on carrying around. Keep colds from spreading throughout the whole family by using Boogie Wipes ($3.99) for quick, gentle mucus cleanup. More gentle on the skin than tissues, Boogie Wipes clean up sticky mucus and moisturize little noses using a gentle saline (salt & water) solution as well as aloe, chamomile, and vitamin E.
One Step Ahead Coupon Code: Most of these items are available through One Step Ahead. Click here to save 15% Off Orders $100+ with Coupon Code: BABY15P or view our most recent One Step Ahead Coupon Codes.