Please note that this post contains Affiliate Links. You can learn more about those here.
I would like to start out by saying that I am not a doctor or health care professional. The testimonials described below are strictly mine and should in no way be used to diagnose or treat a child. Always consult a health care professional with concerns regarding your child’s well being and cold symptoms.
It’s that moment that every first time parent fears. Your baby spikes a fever. And it’s higher than you’re comfortable with. Do you go to the ER? Do you call the after hours nurse? Are you being a helicopter parent and over reacting beause this is the first time this has ever happened and you don’t know what the ‘normal’ thing to do would be?
These were all the questions that raced through my mind when my little one had her first fever. She had had a runny nose and congestion for a few days, and had been sleeping just a little more than usual. When I got done nursing her around 6pm one evening, she just felt hot. So we went upstairs and I took her temperature.
The First Fever
It was 102.0 and with her being 3 and a half months old, it was concerningly high but not high enough to immediately rush to the ER. We called grandma, who is a retired nurse, and texted the pediatrician – both of whom suggested waiting to see how she does overnight and call to set an appointment during office hours the following morning.
At two hour intervals, her temperature slowly came down and by the following morning it was back to normal. Relieved, but still vigilant, we took her to grandma’s to spend the day instead of daycare. We figured it’d be quieter, less germs, and she’d get much more TLC!
We waited another day before scheduling a doctors appointment. Part of me hoped that now that the fever was gone, she’d turn the corner and start to get better. I also feared that if she were seen too soon, they’d miss the whole picture – in case she continued to get worse as the days progressed. But by the second morning, I felt she needed to go in. It’s that mom’s instinct.
So I called promptly at 8am and got an appointment for later that afternoon. I was so thankful I did because when I went to get her from grandma’s en route to the doctor’s office, she had started to have discharge from her eyes. They had this thick, glassy look to them.
Sharing Isn’t Always Caring
I don’t think there is a more helpless feeling than holding your 12lb baby in your arms and feeling the congestion rattling in their chest as they cough. You hope they know that this is just temporary, that they’re a strong little person and that mom is here no matter what and will do everything she can to make them better.
I knew when we began daycare that my daughter would get sick. ‘Prepare for the constant runny nose’ I was told. ‘They’ve gotta build their immunity up!’ family warned. But, friends! No one expresses how sick YOU will be when your little one starts daycare. How YOUR immunity, that has served you well for all these years, suddenly gets sucker punched and doesn’t know what’s going on! Good grief! We haven’t even been enrolled in daycare for a month yet and my husband and I both came down with a stomach bug, he now has a respiratory infection, I have a sinus infection and our little girl is a total hot mess. We’ve been at a war against germs for the better part of two weeks. I feel a need to raise a white flag and schedule a HazMat team to come treat my home!
Thankfully the doctor reported no RSV (which has been running rampant in all daycares in our area), no Influenza (HUGE relief) and no ear infections. Just your run of the mill virus. Unfortunately with viruses, there is nothing you can do but let it run its course. So we are now just taking care of our little munchkin as best we can and praying that this blows over quickly.
Here are some tips & tricks we’ve employed to help ease our baby’s cold symptoms:
Diffuse Essential Oils
I have many friends that swear by the effectiveness of essential oils. While I haven’t been invested in them long enough to make that same testament, I figured it certainly couldn’t hurt to employ them in our fight against these viruses. The molecules of Essential Oils are able to cross into the bloodstream, when chemicals in western medicine cannot, which leads to quicker and more effective absorption by us. Their healing effects are then seen nearly immediately when prescriptions can take a day or two to go into effect. These oils can aid in congestion, fevers, upset tummys.
The list goes on…but I suggest doing some homework to confirm their safety in use around little ones before deploying! When our little one began daycare, I would diffuse Young Living Essential Oil’s ‘Thieves’ blend, as that is said to help support your immune system. Now that we are dealing with upper respiratory issues, I use a mix of eucalyptus, rosemary, peppermint & tea tree essential oils at night to help us breathe a little easier. I do dilute this down more than I normally would since our little girl still sleeps in our bedroom and I don’t want it too strong for her.
Keep Them Hydrated
This is critically important. When your baby is not feeling well, s/he may not be up for eating. It may be difficult to nurse or drink from a bottle being so congested. Their stomach may be feeling off due to a tummy bug. But it is extremely important to pay attention to how much they are eating & drinking and how often. It’s easy for infants to get dehydrated if they have gone for extended periods of time (6-8 hrs) with minimal nourishment (1-2 ounces). Their little bodies are fighting overtime to get them well again, and even more effort is extended if they are running a fever.
My doctor advised that if my little one is eating about 70-80% of what she normally would, that’s enough to sustain her and keep her safe. Check to their diapers – make sure they are still wetting them. Also, pay attention to tears when they cry. A lack of tears when crying is a sign of dehydration. So keep an eye on this and if you have any concerns – call your doctor’s office. Always trust that momma gut-instinct!
Continue to Nurse
If you’re breastfeeding, continue to do so even though it may require more effort from your little one and a little more patience from you. Our bodies do amazing things, and one of those things is gathering feedback from the saliva you baby leaves when nursing. Your body will adjust the composition of breastmilk, adding more water, more fat, more antibodies as needed to provide exactly what s/he needs during the cold. How amazing is that?! Now, they may take longer to nurse, since their airways are restricted from mucus and they may need to cough a time or two, but it will be such a benefit for them to continue to receive breastmillk from you during this period.
Elevate Baby’s Upper Torso
It shouldn’t be surprising to hear that when we lay our babies flat on their backs to sleep at night, all that gunk just settles in their nasal cavities, making it difficult to breathe and creating a sore throat. I know I like to prop another pillow under my head when I’m sick to help my head drain. By elevating baby’s head ever so slightly, you can promote drainage and ease their breathing during the night time hours. You can purchase a crib wedge like this one or just place a few thick blankets under the mattress on one side of the crib/bassinet.
Remember – place these wedges & blankets UNDER the mattress, as you don’t want any lose bedding or ways for baby’s breathing paths to become obstructed. The first night we elevated her, there was a noticeable difference in the length of time she was able to sleep before needing her nose cleared out – like 6-7 hours instead of the 3ish hours before! We also utilized the bouncer seat that we got with her Pack N Play, like this one, that keeps her at a slight incline. It’s also small and portable so we can prop it right next to my side of the bed.
Friends! When I was pregnant, everyone – and I mean everyone – preached about the wonders of the NoseFrida. I know of some who are put off by the thought of sucking snot out of your little one’s nose – with your mouth. But fear not. There is a foam filter that WILL prevent any gunk from making it’s way to you. These things are awesome and SO much better than the bulb syringe they give you at the hospital. It provides a longer suction period (however long you can suck in air) than those bulbs, which is like half a second, to pull more gunk than ever from little one’s sinuses. I mean, you don’t want to suck so hard it feels like you’re sucking out their brain!
My little one will fight her snot sucker but as soon as we’re done, she takes a deep breath and is immediately calm like nothing ever happened. There’s also a sense of satisfaction in seeing all the stuff you were able to clean out of munchkin’s head. Giving them some relief and allowing them to breath a little better! So, if you haven’t invested in one yet – this is one thing I will swear by!
Use A Humidifier
Especially during these cold, dry months in the midwest, we cannot live without our humidifier. A Cool Mist humidifier, like this one, is great for adding moisture to the room. This keeps all the junk in their head from drying out and their throat from getting dry and sore. We use one with distilled water each night (yes, in addition to the essential oils diffuser) in our bedroom when we sleep. It also has a nice white noise effect that lulls all of us off to sleep. During the day, we may run it in her room when she naps, or next to swing in the living room. She loves to watch the mist come out of that little machine!
Smaller, More Frequent Meals
I find that when my daughter isn’t feeling well, she nurses for about half the time she normally would but more frequently. Instead of having three to four hours between feedings, I’m nursing her every two and a half. I think part of this plays into the congestion and it taking more energy out of her to breathe while she eats because she’s typically exhausted and ready for a nap when she’s done. While we’ll never know because babies can’t communicate this sophisticated with us, I suspect they may just not have that much of an appetite and only eat what the feel is absolutely necessary.
Sleep. Lots & Lots of Sleep.
Our doctors always tell us to rest when we’re under the weather, and it plays an even bigger role in the ability for our littles to get better. We are fortunate enough to have our parents near us, and retired, so they’ve been able to take care of the little Peanut this past week. Keeping stimulation to a minimum, giving lots of snuggles – skin to skin contact goes a long way! – and encouraging rest, whether its in an extra nap or extended sleep at night, will help your baby get better faster.
Stock Up on Vitamin C
This is more for us parents. Like I mentioned earlier, our babies will be exposed to numerous germs and bugs early on in their lives and will have the sniffles and a cough multiple times as their bodies build up their defense systems. While us parents have many years and exposure to germs on our side, we will also get hit with new strands and versions of the common cold. Trust me, when your baby coughs directly into your mouth – you’re gonna catch whatever they’ve got!
To help support your body’s defense, take a multivitamin daily, be sure you’re eating a diet heavy with fruits and vegetables to get all those great vitamins and I also recommend taking a daily dose or two of Vitamin C gummies like these. I take 3 in the morning & three in the evening. If I start to feel a cold coming on, I’ll add one more dose in around noon. I, personally, believe this helps hold a cold at bay or helps me get over one faster than if I went without.
This cold and flu season has been particularly bad, with many people fighting off this awful Influenza. I hope some of these tips will help in dealing with the colds your family comes across & wish you and your family a healthy 2018!