There might not be anything worse than hearing a little baby struggle with a stuffy nose and congestion. Those sounds likely make us as parents more uncomfortable than our little ones dealing with the congestion, but it’s still not fun. Luckily, there are a few tips and tricks out there to help the entire family help conquer cold season and prevent those symptoms from setting in.
IMPORTANT NOTE: “Parents should not ignore any respiratory symptoms or a fever in a child 12 weeks or younger. Babies that age rarely experience what we call a ‘cold.’ They simply do not have immunity built up and should be seen by a physician.” –Keith Frey, MD – Family Physician and Chief Medical Officer Dignity Health Arizona
Get out the humidifier and turn it to high
The very first thing that I do when I hear congestion of any sort with my kids is pull out our humidifiers. The humidity drops substantially in winter where we live. Adding humidity back into our bedrooms makes our breathing at night a little easier and assists in keeping our noses moist and clear. Humidifiers can be tedious to maintain, so when you use yours, make sure that you remember to clean it out and completely empty it according your humidifer’s directions. Otherwise, it can become unhelpful in any recovery and could also introduce mold spores in the air.
Stand in the bathroom and create a steam shower
My husband’s favorite trick that seems to always lead to relief during the cold season is a steam shower. He heats up the shower to the highest temperature it goes, closes the bathroom door, and stands in the room (not the shower) while it fills with warm steam. He’s held our babies in a warm steam room countless times now. It can also be helpful to move from the warm steam and into a cooler temperature room to help clear congestion.
Use a nasal aspirator with saline
Possibly every hospital sends a newborn home right along with a little bulb nasal aspirator, and there’s a reason. Those things are handy. There are many different types and models to find the perfect fit for you and your family, but having a nasal aspirator on hand can quickly resolve a congested nose. We keep saline drops and wipes on hand, and a sure-fire way to clear a stuffed up nose is by adding in a drop of saline, counting to three, and then using your nasal aspirator to clear away any blockages (AKA boogers). Another great option for adults is using a neti-pot to clear out those passages.
Explore child-safe aromatherapy
Something that many people are passionate about is aromatherapy. My family doesn’t go overboard on the oil trend and you don’t have to either, if that’s not your thing. But I also know that there are common products that utilize aromatherapy besides essential oils. You can find aromatherapy bubble baths, vapor rub, and more. And while the studies might vary on what’s effective or not, I think we all probably reach the point of “Well, if it doesn’t hurt, let’s try it!” when our kids are sick.
Wash all of the toys, surfaces, and hands
The best step for avoiding colds is remembering to frequently wash your hands and reminding the kids to wash their hands, too. Washing your hands frequently will keep germs from spreading. A great trick for washing a lot of toys that might have collected germs is by loading them up in the dishwasher (as long as they’re dish-wash safe). That tip works perfectly on toys like LEGO Duplos! Another step that I like to take besides washing surfaces is spraying doorknobs with a disinfectant. Stopping germs in their tracks is the best way to prevent a situation of the entire family catching a cold versus just one kid.
“Hand washing is essential and using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is acceptable for day to day hand cleansing. However, if you are coming in contact with your symptomatic child’s bodily fluid – blood, stool, nasal discharge, etc. – you should wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least sixty seconds.” –Keith Frey, MD – Family Physician and Chief Medical Officer Dignity Health Arizona
It can be exhausting caring for a child with a cold, especially when you’re under the weather, too. Remember to take care of yourself and always ask for help if you need it. Soon enough your little one will be feeling better and cold season will be over. Keep these practices in mind when congestion comes to your house, and hopefully it will be a bit easier on you. You got this, mama!