How to Handle An Infant’s Cold
With the arrival of the winter season, babies are even more susceptible to catching a cold this time of the year. Although looking after a sick child can be tough for parents, there are ways to identity when baby has a cold, and how they can help to alleviate discomfort.
Causes & Symptoms
As babies grow and develop, so do their immune systems. During this time, they are less able to fight of viruses present in the air or on surfaces that have been spread by a sick person coughing or sneezing. Babies often pick up such viruses at day care, or from siblings who bring the virus home from school.
Babies begin to display signs of a cold around 1 to 3 days after being infected. Symptoms include a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing and coughing, fussiness, tiredness, lack of appetite, trouble sleeping, fever, vomiting or diarrhea.
Handling Your Baby’s Cold
Colds do not need to be treated as they usually go away on their own after a few days. Avoid using antibiotics as these only kill bacteria, not viruses, or drugstore cough and cold medicines as these do not work well in infants and can cause severe side effects.
If you do wish to bring down a fever to make your child more comfortable, WebMD advises the use of acetaminophen (Children's Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Children's Motrin or Advil) for those over 6 months old. Read the package to make sure you give the proper dosage. Never give a child aspirin as it has been linked to the rare but serious disease called Reye's syndrome.
If your baby gets hot and flushed, and you suspect a fever, first measure his or her temperature to confirm it before administering medicine. Note that a baby’s body temperature fluctuates between 97 degrees Fahrenheit up to 100.3 degrees Fahrenheit, and is only considered to have a fever at 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
Taking a temperature can be done easily with a thermometer like the one from Little Martin’s Drawer (to be released in January 2017). The set includes a range of thermometers specifically designed for babies and younger children, and allows parents to take an accurate reading with 5 different methods.
Other ways to help alleviate your baby's discomfort when having a cold include:
Give Extra Fluids
Prevent dehydration by trying to nurse your baby more often. For children over 6 months, you can also give water and 100% fruit juice to keep the mouth moist.
Help your baby breathe easy by clearing out nasal congestion with an aspirator like the Little Martin’s Baby Nasal Aspirator, which uses battery-powered suction to effectively and gently remove mucus without harming your baby’s delicate sinus. For stubborn mucus it also helps to use a drop of saline to break it down before using the aspirator.
Use A Humidifier
Cool mist humidifiers will help prevent your baby’s nose from drying out by keeping the air moist. It does not need to be in close proximity with your baby to be effective. Make sure to inspect and clean out the humidifier after each use to prevent mold or bacteria from growing.
Although it is difficult to prevent your child from catching a cold, especially in the winter, there are some precautions you can take to reduce the risk. Keeping your children away from crowded areas, and cleaning his or her toys, cups and utensils, can decrease the likelihood of coming into contact with germs.
Call your doctor if your baby doesn't recover after a week or so, if the symptoms appear to worsen, or if other unusual symptoms occur.
- Agnes Yoon