How to treat your baby or toddler’s cold
By Sara Keli
Colds are just a part of life, especially when you have young babies. And once they start child care, it’s a whole other ball game as they build their immunity to the hundreds of viruses in the community.
Usually colds hit at the worst possible time: when you have a deadline at work, or you’re about to head off on a much-needed family holiday. Unfortunately we can’t help with the timing, but we can help you make life a little more bearable – and make them a bit more comfortable – while they are sick.
For a baby runny nose, steam can help clear congestion so they can breathe easier. The best way to do it is to turn on the shower, close the bathroom door and sit in the room (but away from the hot water) while the steam builds. You will be able to feel for yourself how it clears the passages, even if you don’t have a cold.
A humidifier in the baby’s room at night can also help with clearing congestion.
Ask about baby cold medicine
If you aren’t sure what you can use for your baby or toddler, ask your doctor about what baby cold medicine is available and suitable for your child. There are so many baby medicine and vitamins on the market, but it’s always best to check if your child is able to use them.
You can also try a saline nasal spray – this can help thin the mucus to clear your child’s nose so they can breathe a little easier. Keep an eye out for options just for kids.
For a newborn cold you will be more limited with options than you will if you have an older child.
Keep up the fluids
It’s very easy for a baby or toddler to get dehydrated when they have a cold, so alongside any infant cold medicine you may be giving them, you need to ensure they keep up their fluids. If you’re breastfeeding, you can offer more regular feeds. You might find that your baby finds it harder to feed if they have a blocked nose, so shorter, more frequent feeds can be the way to go.
If you baby is drinking water, keep offering it – likewise with formula if you aren’t breastfeeding. Hydralyte can also be a good option, but always check the instructions and recommendations before giving it to your baby. If you are concerned about how much fluid your baby is taking in while they are sick, do speak to your doctor.
Be flexible with your routine
Every child is different, but generally speaking, when they are sick with a cold their sleep patterns and demeanour will be affected. This is where you need to practice some gentle patience and be flexible with your routine.
You may find that babywearing is the only way to get through a newborn cold, as babies do tend to become quite clingy when they are sick, so you can try a wrap, sling or carrier. If they fall asleep on you for their day sleeps, that can be a good thing, particularly if they are upright as this can help them with breathing. You might not be able to get anything done, but at least the baby is happy!
Prevent the spread to other family members
When you have a child hanging off you and sneezing in your face while you sleep, it can be hard to avoid the spread of whatever virus has made them sick. But there are a few things that might help.
If you have other children, try to keep them apart as much as possible while the baby is sick. Likewise, if your older children are sick, try to keep them away from the baby. Regular hand washing may also help prevent the spread of the virus.
With most common colds, your baby will be back to their normal self within a week. Remember that if you are concerned at any point you should always seek medical advice.