As a parent, when your little one is suffering from a cold, you feel miserable too. It’s especially frustrating when your baby is preverbal and can’t tell you exactly what is wrong. However, you can probably recognize the telltale signs of a cold, such as coughing, sneezing, and a runny nose.
What to do for your baby when he or she has a cold? The answer can be tricky. Doctors advise against administering cold medication for children under the age of two, so you shouldn’t give your baby any pharmaceuticals that haven’t been prescribed or recommended by your pediatrician.
However, that doesn’t mean that your hands are tied and your child is doomed to struggle through until the virus runs its course. There are preventative steps you can take before your child comes down with a cold to help improve his or her chances of staying healthy. Then, once the inevitable happens and your child does come down with a cold, there are natural remedies you can use to ease his or her suffering.
Even the Odds by Boosting Your Baby’s Immunity
When it comes to your baby versus cold viruses, the germs have a major advantage. They outnumber your baby, there are so many varieties that they can’t be vaccinated against, and there are many means by which they can enter your baby’s body and cause infection. However, there are steps that you can take to even the score by boosting your baby’s immunity and making it less likely that he or she will come down with a cold in the first place.
There are four ways to boost your baby’s immunity:
Vitamin D supplements are common for babies because they also help prevent a condition called rickets that can cause your baby to become bowlegged due to softening bones. Ask your doctor about supplementing with probiotics if he or she doesn’t suggest it.
Breast milk naturally contains disease-fighting chemicals called antibodies that help protect your baby from infection. In addition, breastfeeding your baby and wearing him or her in a carrier provide prolonged periods of touch that promote immune health by keeping your baby’s level of the stress hormone cortisol low.
Natural Cold Remedies for Babies
Despite your best efforts, sooner or later your baby will come down with a cold. Fortunately, there are things you can do to ease the suffering and help him or her recover more quickly.
1. Encourage Sleep
While it’s harder for your baby to sleep when he or she has a cold, getting plenty of rest can help the recovery efforts. Use what you know about when your baby is most likely to sleep and do your best to replicate those conditions. If that means taking more naps during the day or going for rides in the car, do whatever it takes.
2. Use a Humidifier or Vaporizer
The air tends to get drier in the winter, a normal atmospheric condition that is exacerbated by the use of central heating inside your home. Nasal mucus tends to thicken and build up when the air is dry, but you can use either a cool air humidifier or warm air vaporizer to restore some of the moisture in the air and help relieve your baby’s stuffiness. Be aware that a warm air vaporizer can pose a burn hazard, so keep it out of baby’s reach.
3. Elevate the Head of the Bed
Raising the head of your baby’s bed so that he or she sleeps on an incline can help drain the mucus by the force of gravity, allowing your baby to breathe better. Don’t use pillows to prop up your baby’s head, as this can increase risk of SIDS, but you can buy a crib wedge for the purpose, or you can place a rolled-up towel or a few books under the mattress of the crib.
4. Use Suction and Saline
Your baby won’t be able to blow his or her nose, even with your help, until at least age 2, so you have to clear your baby’s nose another way. There are nasal aspirators available that allow you to suck the snot right out of your baby’s nose. You can also loosen up mucus with saline drops or mist.
When your baby eventually catches a cold, the most important thing to remember is that this, too, shall pass. If you have questions or concerns about your baby’s symptoms, it’s never a bad idea to consult with your doctor.