Cough And Colds For Baby

When your child next has a cough or cold, you could try these gentle, effective and safe home remedies. Although none of them will get rid of your child’s illness, they will help soothe her symptoms so that she feels much better.

1. Lots of rest (all ages)

It takes energy to fight an infection, and that can wear a child out. Resting helps your child get back her energy and to heal.

Stress can sometimes play a role in illness too. If your child is under pressure, perhaps because of school or friends, or something happening at home, giving her a break may be just what she needs to fight off her symptoms.

If your child doesn’t want to rest in bed all day, a change of scenery can be helpful. If the weather is good, you could set up a comfortable place in the balcony, verandah or your garden for your child to rest. However, don’t leave her unattended.

Indoors, make something more fun than her bed, like a tent in a snug area near you. Or perhaps, she may enjoy some time in an indoor swing or a rocking chair.

If your child finds it hard to rest, help her by cuddling up with some books. Teach her some nursery rhymes or read her a story.

2. Steamy air (all ages)

Breathing moist or humid air helps loosen the mucus in the nose. A warm bath will also relax your child.

To moisten the air, you can get a humidifier, steamer or a cool-mist vapourise. Although humidifiers are becoming more popular, they are still hard to find in some areas. You may have to buy it online or in a specialised store.

If you use a humidifier, be sure to clean it often (every three days) and according to the manufacturer’s directions. Humidifiers can build up mould, which they then spray into the air if they’re not kept very clean. Steamers to fit all budgets are easily available in the market and online. Even facial steamers will do the trick.

All you need to do is leave the humidifier, cool-mist vapouriser or steamer on in the room where your child is sleeping, resting, or playing. As the air gets humid, your child will breathe easier.

If you do not have any of these items at home, a quick-fix solution is letting your child breath in steamy air in the bathroom. Let the hot water tap run and close the door to the bathroom. Block any gap under the door with an old towel, and sit in the steamy room with your child for about 15 minutes. You may as well bring a couple of toys or waterproof bath books to make it more fun for both of you.

You can also give your child a warm bath in a steamy bathroom. If she’s old enough, let her play in the bathtub for some time with you watching her always. The steam will help to ease her congestion.

Adding no more than one or two drops of eucalyptus, or pine essential oil to the bath water (or vapouriser/steamer) occasionally may also help. These oils are available at most supermarkets or chemists.

Cautions:
If you keep your child in a steamy bathroom, her clothes might get damp, so it is best to change them immediately after to stop her from feeling cold.

If you use a steamer, facial steamer or humidifier, make sure your child does not come close to the steam. Steam burns just as badly if not worse than hot water. Always keep the moistening device well out of your child’s reach but also in a place that will allow the steam to circulate in the room.

3. A bulb syringe (best for babies) and nasal saline drops

A bulb syringe clears the nose of babies who are too young to blow their own nose. It is helpful if a stuffy nose gets in the way of your baby’s breastfeeding or bottle-feeding. Try using it about 15 minutes before feeding your child.

Using a bulb syringe works best for young babies, but if your older baby or child doesn’t mind it, there’s no reason not to do it.

You can get a bulb syringe and sterile saline nose drops at a chemist store. You can even make saline water at home. Dissolve about half a teaspoon of salt in one cup of boiled and cooled water. Make a fresh batch each day and store it in a clean covered glass jar, to prevent germs from entering.

To use the bulb syringe, tip your baby’s head back, and squeeze two to three drops of saline solution into each nostril to thin and loosen the mucus. Try to keep her head still afterwards for about 10 seconds.

Once the saline drops have loosened the mucus, use the bulb syringe to suck it out. Squeeze the bulb of the syringe, and then gently insert the tip into your baby’s nostril. Then slowly release the bulb to collect the mucus. Before using the syringe in the other nostril, remove the mucus from the bulb by squeezing it in a sink or tissue. Clean it in a bowl of cool, boiled water before using it on the other nostril.

If your baby gets upset by the syringe, use the saline drops and then gently wipe the lower part of her nostrils with a cotton swab or napkin. If the mucus is dried up on the outer rim of your baby’s nose, try putting a drop of baby oil or petroleum jelly on a cotton swab or soft muslin square, and gently wipe it clean. Take care not to put any oil, cream or any other nasal drops inside your baby’s nose without first checking with her doctor.

Cautions:
If you’d like to try this method, speak to your child’s paediatrician first. She will show you how to use the bulb syringe correctly so that it doesn’t cause any injuries or trauma to your child’s nasal cavity.

Sucking out mucus from your baby’s nose more than a few times a day might irritate the lining of her nose, so it is best not to do it too often. Check with your doctor about how often and for how many days you need to use saline drops.

Nasal decongestant sprays shouldn’t be used unless specifically prescribed by your baby’s doctor.

4. Extra fluids (six months and up)

Studies show that warm liquids are soothing and relieve cold symptoms like aches, fatigue, congestion and fever. Drinking plenty of fluids also helps prevent dehydration, which can happen easily with a cold. It also flushes and thins your child’s nasal mucus.

Traditionally, mothers prefer to give warm liquids such as soups, Holy basil and ginger tea (tulsi aur adrak ki chai), besan ka sheeradal soup and so on.

Many mothers also find that cool liquids are just as helpful and comforting for their child, especially in the summer. You may like to try home made fresh juices, nimbu pani, fruit smoothies, lassi and ice lollies made from juice.

Cautions:
Stick to breastmilk for babies younger than six months old. Breastfed babies don’t need extra water even in hot weather. Just offer frequent breastfeeds to quench your baby’s thirst and to keep her hydrated.

Formula-fed babies and babies on solids can have extra water. Don’t give your baby fruit juices or carbonated drinks, particularly if your baby’s dehydrated because of diarrhoea and vomiting.

5. Honey (12 months and up)

Honey coats and soothes the throat and helps tame a cough. Evidence suggests that honey can be effective at easing coughs and may help children sleep better overnight. Your child must be at least a year old to try this remedy.

Some people mix honey with hot water and add a squeeze of lemon, which provides a little vitamin C along with the soothing honey. Another popular traditional remedy for colds (especially a sore throat) includes mixing honey with a bit of ginger juice and a dash of black pepper.

Because honey is a form of sugar, it can be damaging to your child’s teeth. It’s important that your child brushes her teeth after she takes it, especially if you give it to her at bedtime.

Depending on the weather in your part of the country, honey can get hard at room temperature. To soften it, boil some water in a pan and remove it from the stove. Set the honey jar in the pan with the hot water for five or ten minutes. The honey will melt to the desired consistency.

Cautions:
Don’t give honey to a child before her first birthday. It can cause a very rare and occasionally fatal illness in babies called infant botulism.

6. Elevating the head (12 months and up)

Raising your child’s head while she rests can help her breathe more comfortably. You can raise her mattress with the help of towels or pillows.

If your child sleeps in a cot, place the towels or slim pillow between the mattress and the cot. Don’t try to raise the legs of her bed or cot by placing bricks or boards as it could make the cot unstable.

If your child sleeps in a big bed, say your family bed, an extra pillow under her head might do the trick. But, if she twists and turns while she sleeps, it’s better to raise the head of the mattress instead. This also creates a more gradual, comfortable slope than extra pillows under her head.

Cautions:
Be careful to not overcrowd the cot or bed with pillows. Keep checking on your child. If your child is a restless sleeper, she might flip around so that her feet are higher than her head, defeating the purpose.

Remember pillows are not recommended for babies under the age of one. Any kind of pillow, soft object and loose bedding can obstruct the infant airway and pose a suffocation risk. These have also been linked to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) also known as cot death.

7. Vapour rubs (two years and up)

Vapour rubs may ease cough and cold symptoms and help some children sleep better at night. Research suggests that their ingredients actually have no effect on nasal congestion, but they make the cold sufferer feel as though she’s breathing better by producing a cooling sensation in the nose.

However, keep in mind that paediatricians do not recommend using vapour rub on babies and toddlers younger than two years as it can cause irritation and make babies uncomfortable.

If you’re still keen to use vapour rub for your older toddler, speak to your child’s doctor. She may be able to recommend vapour rub products made especially for young children. These products contain petrolatum, oils, and eucalyptus (but no camphor or menthol).

If you prefer to use products without petroleum or paraben, then you could consider using natural vapour balms. These are available at ayurvedic stores or online. These balms are typically made with aloe, herbs, oils and essential oils. Even so use any natural products only after checking with your doctor as some with strong smells can worsen wheezing.

Cautions:
You should always speak to your doctor before using vapour rub for your toddler. When you have the go-ahead, follow her instructions. Don’t apply vapour rub anywhere on your child’s face, including her mouth, nose, inside the nostrils or around her eyes. Only apply it on the chest and back. Also, don’t put it on broken or sensitive skin as it may irritate the skin.

8. Nose blowing (two years and up)

Clearing the nose of mucus helps your child breathe and sleep more easily, and generally makes her feel more comfortable. Many children don’t master this skill until after age four, but some are able to by age two.

Tips for teaching nose blowing:

  • Let your child copy you. For some children, that’s all it takes.
  • Explain that blowing your nose is “backward smelling.”
  • Have your child hold one nostril shut and practice gently blowing air out one side. A mirror or a little piece of tissue under the nose will help her see her breath.
  • Teach her to blow gently. Blowing too hard can hurt her ears.
  • Give your child her own little packet of disposable tissues. Teach her to throw away used tissues in a covered dustbin and to wash her hands after blowing her nose.
  • If your child’s nose is sore from all the sniffling and blowing, you can rub a little petroleum jelly or other child-safe ointment around the outside rim of her nostrils.

Cautions:
It’s best to use disposable tissues that can be thrown away easily in a covered bin.

If you choose to use a handkerchief, teach your child how to fold it and use a clean area when she needs to blow her nose. You will need to replace and wash a dirty handkerchief frequently.

Also, teach your child to throw away a used handkerchief in a separate small bucket with a lid. It is still important for her to wash her hands every time she blows her nose to stop the transfer on infections.

9. A neti pot, also known as a jala neti pot (4 years and up)

neti pot flushes a mild saline solution through the nostrils. It moisturises the area and thins, loosens, and rinses away mucus. This is a popular yoga nasal cleansing technique also known as ‘jala neti’. Roughly translated, it means cleansing with water. Some researchers have found that saline nasal wash solutions help to relieve cold symptoms.

neti pot looks like a very small watering can or teapot, and is typically ceramic or metal. Neti pots are available at several chemist shops, ayurvedic stores and online.

Fill the pot with warm saline water. Tilt your child’s head sideways over the sink, and placing the spout of the pot in the top nostril. The water will flow gently through the top nostril and out the other nostril. Tell your child to breathe through her mouth through the procedure. This takes a little practice, but it’s easy once you get the hang of it. Once it works one side, repeat on the other side.

If you’d like to learn from a professional, then many yoga instructors are qualified to teach Jala neti. Try practising on yourself before teaching your child to use a neti pot. Let your child watch you use it. If she agrees to try it, help her to use it.

You’ll need your child to be cooperative. Using a neti pot isn’t painful, but does feel strange at first. It’s definitely not for babies or young toddlers, and older children (and adults) might not agree to use it.

Cautions:
Don’t force a child who’s not interested. This needs to be a very gentle procedure, or else your child may get upset and her nasal passage damaged.

10. Gargling with salt water (4 years and up)

Gargling with salt water is a time-honoured way to soothe a sore throat the world over. It also helps clear mucus from the throat and ease nasal congestion. While scientists haven’t found out exactly why it works, studies have shown that the remedy is effective.

It is also a very simple remedy. Put half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and stir. If your child doesn’t mind the taste, a squirt or two of fresh lemon juice can be a soothing addition.
Your child must be old enough to learn to gargle. That usually means school age or older. But some children can manage it sooner.

A few tips for teaching your child to gargle:

  • Practise with plain water.
  • Ask your child to tilt her head up and try to hold the water in the back of her throat without swallowing it.
  • Once she’s comfortable doing that, have her try to make sounds with her throat. Show her what that looks and sounds like.
  • Teach her to spit out the water rather than swallow it.

Aim for gargling three or four times a day while your child is sick.

Cautions:
Always check the temperature of the water, especially if you have heated it in a microwave. The cup may appear cooler outside but the water can be hot enough to cause burns. Always use filtered, warm water for gargles.

How Long Does Baby Cough and Cold Last

Although babies are born with some of their birth parent’s immunity to illness, which can be enhanced by breastfeeding, that doesn’t completely protect them against the ever-changing collection of viruses that cause upper respiratory infections like the common cold. Colds aren’t all bad news, though—most babies will come down with several colds in their first year of life, and the illnesses will help them build their immunity.

So what does a baby cold look like? It usually comes on slowly and lasts about nine days. Some parents find it helpful to break the infection cycle into three distinct stages: three days coming, three days here, and three days going.

Three days coming

During the first three days, when your child is contagious, they may seem fussier than usual, have a slightly decreased appetite, and run a fever. Call your pediatrician’s office immediately for advice and instructions if they’re under 3 months old and their rectal temperature is above 100.4 degrees F. (Some good news: Once your child is a preschooler, a cold usually causes only a slight increase in temperature.) Usually, a runny nose appears on the second or third day, signaling that your child’s immune system is fighting back. During this stage, the mucus is clear and thin and runs constantly.

 What to Do When Your Baby Has a Fever

Three days here

During the middle phase of a cold, the fever usually goes away, and your baby might be less fussy and eat better. The mucus will thicken a bit and may turn light yellow. At this stage, babies develop the classic “stuffy and runny nose.”

This is also the time when they may develop a cough. That’s because when a baby lies on their back, mucus drips down the nasal passages to the back of the throat and sets off a cough response to keep the fluid out of the lungs. Inevitably, this can make it difficult for your child (and you!) to sleep.

Three days going

Like a houseguest who stays too long, colds can linger in babies. In the final three days, the mucus thickens even more and becomes crusty. Babies generally act normal in most ways at this stage, eating well and resuming activity.

How to Prevent a Cold in Babies

While colds are generally not severe, many parents worry about a cold developing into something more serious. It’s a legitimate concern, especially for young babies. While you can’t always prevent viral infections, there are steps you can take to lessen the likelihood that your baby will get seriously sick.

“Until your baby has their first round of shots at 2 months old, you should be extra cautious,” says Mary Ian McAteer, M.D., a pediatrician in Indianapolis. Also, newborns should avoid crowds, so keep them home as much as possible. After those first two months, here are more ways to prevent your baby from getting a cold.

Keep your baby close

When you venture out, stay 6 feet from anyone showing signs of illness like coughing or sneezing. To keep your baby extra close, consider wearing them in a carrier. Strangers are less likely to touch your baby’s hands and face when your baby is attached to you. If they’re in a stroller, keeping the canopy down and covering it with a light, breathable blanket can also deter well-meaning strangers.

Mind the company your family keeps

Ask guests who have been sick to hold off on visiting until they no longer have symptoms and have been fever-free (without using a fever-reducing medication) for at least 24 hours. Since little kids have less practiced hygiene skills, allow younger kids to look at the baby but not touch them, especially near places like their face and hands.

 TikToker Offers Rules for Visiting Newborns and People Are Loving It

Wash your hands often

“A lot of germs are carried on your hands,” Dr. Zaoutis says. So scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds—sing “Happy Birthday” twice to time it—every time you come in from a public place, use the bathroom, eat, or change a diaper. Stool is full of bacteria, and if it makes its way to your infant’s mouth, it can cause diarrhea and vomiting.

It’s also a good idea to stash alcohol-based hand sanitizer in your bag, next to the changing table, and by the front door. Be sure to keep some out for guests as well. It’s convenient and almost as effective as hand-washing unless your hands are visibly soiled, Dr. Jackson says.

Keep your baby well-nourished

Studies show that serious colds and ear and throat infections are reduced by 63% in infants who breastfeed exclusively for six months. So, if you can breastfeed, continue to do so while a baby is ill to give them extra antibodies and an immune boost.

That said, not everyone can or chooses to breastfeed. So, no matter how you feed your baby, keep them hydrated and well-fed to give them essential nutrition and comfort when they have a cold.

Disinfect surfaces

Germs can live for hours on things like shopping carts and door handles, so keep a package of sanitizing wipes in your diaper bag for when you are out and about. At home, germs can live a long time on high-touch surfaces, like doorknobs, light switches, and countertops. So, consider running over these items with a sanitizing wipe occasionally during cold season, especially when someone in the household has been sick.

 9 Seriously Germy Places—And How to Protect Your Child

Take precautions at the pediatrician’s office

Babies see their pediatrician a lot during the first year. Dr. Jackson says that even if your doctor’s office has separate sick and well rooms, waiting rooms are filled with germs. Consider requesting the first or last slot of the day when you’re less likely to be met with a crowd of coughing kids. Or ask to sit in your car or an exam room while you wait, rather than in the waiting area.

Don’t delay or skip any of your baby’s vaccines

Following the vaccine schedule is the best way to prevent illnesses like measles, meningitis, and chicken pox,” Dr. McAteer says. “Because we don’t see these illnesses frequently, parents think we don’t need these vaccines, but no—that’s the proof that they’re doing their job.”

If you’re wondering whether it’s safe to give so many shots so close together, the answer is yes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Get your shots, too

In particular, parents and parents-to-be should get the flu and pertussis (whooping cough) vaccines. Dr. Jackson says that getting the flu shot when pregnant passes antibodies on to your fetus that should last for about six months. (Babies don’t get the flu vaccine until they are at least 6 months old.)

Flu can be deadly in newborns, making any side effects you may experience from the jab (such as low-grade fever and nausea) minor in comparison. In addition, the CDC recommends that pregnant people also get vaccinated against whooping cough between 27 and 36 weeks, so they don’t pass the illness to their unvaccinated newborn. In short, everyone in your baby’s circle, including older siblings, should be immunized.

 Adult Vaccine Schedule for Parents and Grandparents

Boost your immunity

It’s hard to get enough sleep when you have a newborn who’s up every two hours (or more), but do what you can to get shut-eye, even if that means napping during the day. Make sure you eat well too. Keeping your body fueled will help you fight off illnesses you could otherwise pass to your little one.

 7 Ways to Boost Your Child’s Immunity

Treating Your Baby’s Cold

The simple truth is there’s no quick fix for a cold or flu. Antibiotics aren’t effective against viruses, and most antiviral drugs aren’t approved for babies. In addition, a growing body of research suggests that decongestants and combination decongestant-antihistamine products, which can cause side effects such as jitteriness or difficulty sleeping in babies and kids, aren’t very effective in children either.

As a result, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises against giving these medications to children under 2. Instead, your best bet is to use some natural remedies to fight colds in babies, like suctioning mucus, keeping them hydrated, and keeping the air moist.

 5 Baby Cold Remedies for Cough and Congestion

When to Call the Doctor

Whether your baby has a cold or another illness, you should call the doctor in the following scenarios:

  • If your baby is listless, not reacting to you, has poor color, or if you feel something isn’t right
  • If their cough is worsening or your child is having difficulty breathing
  • If your baby is crying more than usual, tugging on their ear, or refusing the breast or bottle
  • If you suspect your infant has the flu, especially if they have a high fever and cough that persists for more than three days
  • If your infant is under 3 months old and has a fever (rectal temperature of 100.4 or greater)
  • If your older child has a high fever for more than five days, a worsening cough (with or without chest pain), a headache for more than five days, or a headache that is getting worse or is accompanied by a stiff neck

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