When my daughter was born, I spent the first week wearing a mask because I had an itchy throat and nose. By the time I found out it was just an allergy, I had drained myself with anxiety and effort not to give my newborn what I thought was a cold. I remember washing my hands 100 times a day, making sure I breathe far from her face, and stressing over whether she could catch a cold from breastfeeding. Newborns are so small and fragile that you would literally blame yourself if anything happened to them. You spend your time telling visitors to wash their hands, remove their shoes, washing your own hands, and avoiding large crowds. But what if the most dreaded thing for every new parent happened? What if YOU suddenly had a cold and newborn baby?
In most cases, new moms, and especially breastfeeding ones, cannot isolate themselves from their newborn and let someone else take care of everything. Unless you have a full-time nanny, a non-working partner, or a mom who lives close by, you’ll have to continue taking care of your newborn despite your cold. Colds are actually common in newborns and they can catch them from anyone. A newborn who is breastfed can also catch a cold, despite the fact that his immunity is higher than formula-fed newborns. Most of the time, the common cold, even if caught by a newborn, is not dangerous, but it is important not to let it escalate into something else that is – like pneumonia or acute bronchiolitis. There are many ways like hygiene habits and avoiding airborne transmission, to prevent giving your newborn your cold and for this to pass without any complications. This article will take you through everything you need to know if you have a cold and a newborn baby.
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Can a newborn catch a cold, and how do we know he has it?
It is quite common for a newborn to have mild nasal congestion. It happens frequently as their immunity is not well-developed yet and they are prone to catching viruses, especially when visitors are frequently coming over to congratulate new parents.
Breastfed babies have more immunity as breastfeeding gives your baby antibodies, white blood cells and enzymes, protecting them more from infection than formula-fed babies. But it doesn’t mean they are entirely protected of the common cold, so better be careful with all newborns. We will talk about how you can prevent that below!
How do I know my newborn has a cold?
The first symptom to observe to know if your newborn has a common cold is his stuffed nose. Newborns having a stuffed nose is quite a common situation and it’s likely he has caught a small cold. The main symptoms to watch out for are:
- Runny or stuffed nose
- Low appetite – turning away from the bottle or the breast
- Noisy breathing
- Waking up frequently and fussing
- Fever and coughing
- Watery eyes
Most of the time, it is nothing to worry about, and patience is key, it can take up to 7 to 10 days to disappear. What you can do to ease your newborn’s common cold symptoms is:
- Suction the excess mucus with saline nasal drops and a bulb syringe to prevent it from dropping down in your newborn’s chest.
- Moisturize the air in his room with an air humidifier.
- Give him plenty of milk (breastfeeding or formula) to keep him hydrated.
- Give him warm baths and steam sessions. This will allow the mucus to go out of the nose and allow him to breathe better.
- Rub natural oils on your baby’s chest and give him a small massage. This can be quite soothing for your little human.
Should symptoms get worse, it is best to contact your doctor immediately. It could be acute bronchiolitis, pneumonia, or flu, which is most of the time accompanied by a high fever and a cough.
I have a cold and a newborn baby! What do I do?
As most moms are breastfeeding, and newborns need their mothers the most, it is the most difficult thing to catch a cold while caring for your little one. If you’re a first-time mom, this is even more difficult. I remember all of my friends warning me about my newborn catching a cold and the major consequences it could have should the symptoms get worse. I was terrified!
If I heard my daughter chuckle, I panicked and thought it was pneumonia. But it turns out, most of the time there is nothing to panic about. There are many ways to prevent your newborn from catching a common cold.
- Minimize contact by asking for assistance if it’s possible. We know it’s difficult, but if you have a cold, it’s better to reduce your contact with your baby for a few days if someone can help. If you’re breastfeeding, pumping and freezing can be a huge help.
- If you don’t have help and are your baby’s only caregiver, try to prevent airborne transmission. Try not to breathe directly into your baby’s face and place a blanket between you and your newborn when you breastfeed.
- Keep healthy habits, such as washing your hands frequently, and drink plenty of fluids.
- Wipe all surfaces constantly to avoid germs from spreading between family members.
- Resist kissing your baby to avoid germs getting on their skin and around their face.
Can my baby get ill if I breastfeed with a cold?
New moms tend to think that breastfeeding their baby while they are sick will harm their newborn. But research states that even if you are ill, you can continue breastfeeding because breast milk will give your newborn the immunity he needs to fight viruses better.
To make it easier for you to not feel bad about it, think that your baby was exposed to the virus before you showed the symptoms. Breastmilk will not transfer the virus to your baby and only give him more comfort and immunity.
Be careful when it comes to the medicine you’re taking though, as some can be harmful to your milk supply and the quality of your milk. Check with your doctor or lactation consultant first.
Milk supply will surely drop but continuing breastfeeding and pumping will help maintain it. Finally, getting a lot of rest, and drinking lots of fluid is vital to keep you going.
Are newborns prone to catching Herpes Simplex Viruses?
Newborns catching the HSP-1 infection from someone kissing them or getting in close contact with them is rare, but can happen. The reason for that is that carriers of the virus can transmit it to others, with or without cold sores.
Should I take my baby to the doctor’s for a cold?
It is always best for a doctor to examine a newborn with a cold, especially if they show signs of fever and a cough. This will help prevent the cold from transforming into a more serious illness.
Taking care of your newborn baby is already something that requires all of your energy and attention. Between the breastfeeding, meticulous care they need, attention, and affection, adding a cold on top of it all does not make things easy.
Keeping good hygiene habits, taking care of yourself with plenty of fluids and rest, as well as asking for help from family members or friends can go a long way. It will pass by in a flash if you’re careful your newborn does not catch it and gets more serious symptoms.
Keep on breastfeeding as it will give your child the antibodies and therefore the immunity he needs to fight off viruses.
Leave us a comment if you’ve had this experience, or if you’d like to share any tips!