All moms know how tough it is to put a baby to sleep, but that doesn’t compare to putting a sick baby to sleep. When your little one has a cold, you can’t blame them for overreacting because it’s probably their first time experiencing such a thing. Having a sensitive immune system myself, I had a feeling my baby would pick up after me, so I was always extra careful about keeping the house clean. But, of course, a cold is something mostly out of your control. My baby and I caught a cold together once, thankfully I could take medicine to get better, but my poor baby couldn’t and had an extra hard time sleeping and handling his first cold. I remember how hard the first two nights were for both of us because neither of us could sleep. With this post, I want to offer my help to all the new mothers out there, who are having a hard time putting their baby with a cold to bed. I’ve tried answering all your questions, along with a bunch of tips to calm your baby down. I’m sure this will help!
Colds are typical for adults but not normal for babies because of their new and fragile immune systems. This is why even a common cold can take a toll on them. Most medicine available in the store are not meant for babies, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t help them at all. Most pediatricians recommend parents using natural cold remedies at this stage, as they have proven to be the most effective cure for your little one. For your baby suffering from a cold, you would want to keep nursing your baby so that they stay hydrated, and also because your milk is going to help your baby’s immune system fight those cold-causing bacteria. You can also use a syringe (bulb) to get that mucus out of your baby’s stuffy nose. Sometimes a steamy bathroom can also help with the cold, for the steam will get your baby’s nose runny, loosen the mucus within the throat, and make it easier to cough. Keeping a humidifier in your baby’s room during winters can lower the chances of future colds because it keeps moisture going during the dry winter air, and help to relieve the cough and congestion. The American Academy of Pediatricians suggests avoiding using any kind of antibiotics unless the congestion leads to an ear infection or pneumonia. They also suggest waiting for a few days for the cold to disappear, but if it doesn’t and the symptoms start to worsen then you must take your baby to see a doctor.
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Why do babies get colds?
Colds occur when viruses cause infection in the upper respiratory system of your baby. These viruses are easily transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, cough and sneeze droplets, and anything that’s contaminated with the virus. So if you had any contact with a sick person, then the chances are that you are going to be the carrier of this cold.
Another reason why colds are so common and can’t be prevented is that there are over 200 viruses responsible for cold. For adults, surviving a cold depends entirely upon their immune system but for babies, this cold can be harsh due to their developing immunities and less resistance.
Though colds can be rough and painful for your baby they do not do them any harm. In fact, these viruses are helping your little one in developing immunity against future colds.
How to spot a cold in your baby
Though colds have clear symptoms yet they can be hard to differentiate from other illnesses, like an allergy. So if your baby has all the following symptoms then consider it a cold:
- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion
- Dry cough
- Mild temperature
- Loss of appetite
Keep in mind that the COVID-19 has almost the same symptoms in babies, so make sure that you get your baby tested for COVID as well.
How long does a cold last in babies?
A normal cold has an incubation period between 1-4 days, and it may last up to 10 days. Colds are most contagious during the first 2 days before the symptoms start to appear, but they can still pass along in the middle.
Colds become less contagious when the runny nose begins to dry up. If the symptoms start to worsen after 3 days, it could be an indication of something serious so get your baby checked by a professional if that happens.
How to prevent cold in your baby?
The cold might seem unrestrainable but they can be avoided if you take certain precautions. The first and most effective way to avoid contracting a cold is to keep you, and your baby’s hands clean. If you have other kids around the house then make sure that they clean their hands as well before touching their baby sibling.
Hand sanitizers and wipes can also be used if you do not have a sink around, but keep in mind that washing hands is far effective than sanitizers, in washing away germs.
Moreover, keep your baby away from family members who have a cold. Use the disinfectant solution to clean the house and things that might have germs on them. Lastly, feed your baby breast milk for it’s the best remedy against any disease.
How to treat your baby’s cold?
Do not opt for medication when your baby gets a cold, because they are not only unsafe for babies but are also ineffective. Using antibiotics for a mere cold can lead to other severe problems like rashes, diarrhea, stomach pain, an allergic reaction, and in rare cases seizures.
Antibiotics can also kill the healthy bacteria in the gut of your baby, so consult your doctor before using any kind of medication. To help relieve your baby’s pain during a cold, use the following tips:
- To help your baby breathe easily, you need to take that mucus out of their nose. To do that you simply need to use a suction bulb to extract that excess mucus blocking your baby’s nostrils. You can also use saline nose drops to soften the mucus.
- Use a humidifier in the room for it can moist the dry air, and reduce the congestion.
- To prevent red skin, soreness, and chapping apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly under the nose.
- Keep your baby hydrated or keep them feeding breast milk to make up for the fluids lost through fever or runny nose. Breast milk also has the right ingredients to treat your baby’s cold, so do not hesitate to feed.
- If your baby is 2 months or older and you want to give him a medicine then go for Tylenol. Ibuprofen, however, is safe for babies who are 6 months or older but do not forget to consult your doctor beforehand.
Symptoms and cure for summer colds
Colds are more common during winters because rhinoviruses, that are responsible for their cause, have better chances of survival in cold weather. Summer colds, though unpopular, can still be contracted by your baby because they are caused by a different type of virus. These viruses can infect your baby’s eyes, nose, and digestive system. Some of the common symptoms of summer colds are:
- 101 to 104 °F fever
- Sore throat
- Muscle ache
Like winter colds, summer colds also disappear in a week, and you can use the same treatment and preventive measures for this cold, as you would for the winter cold.
When to consult a doctor for your baby’s cold?
Colds are common among babies as in adults and do not need you to visit a pediatrician, but call your doctor if your little one
- Had his first cold and does not seem to handle it well
- Seems to be very restless and has trouble sleeping
- Does not feed
- Has a fever over 100.4 °F
- Is breathing abnormally fast
- Has a greenish-yellow, stinking nasal or cough discharge
- Seems to have swollen neck glands
- Is pulling on his ear
- Does not seem to be getting better even after 10 days
Some colds if prolonged can cause ear infection, pneumonia, or can be a sign of an allergy. Hence, keep the timeline in mind and if the cold exceeds the timeline, then visit your pediatrician for a proper checkup.
Colds are not fatal for your baby at all, but if it’s the first time then your baby might react more extremely towards it. All you can do for your baby during colds is use remedies to soothe their cough and congestion.
Do not try to treat this cold like an adult’s cold and avoid medications of any sort. If your baby is getting sicker and does not seem to be recovering after 3 days, then consult your doctor for a proper diagnosis.
Let me know your way of handling your baby’s cold in the comments below!
Hajira is a certified editor, an experienced and thoughtful writer, and a mother of two. Her deliberate passion for writing convinced her to become a writer along with her mom duties. Driven by her passion for writing, she takes pride in providing the best possible. She aims to incite and provoke enthusiasm in her readers.