If you’re like me you’ve been dreading your baby’s first cold. You’ve been avoiding situations where your little one could pick up a bug. And trying to protect your baby, keeping her happy and healthy for as long as possible.
But it’s inevitable. Our perfect little babies will succumb to a cold at some point.
Stuffy noses and sleepless nights can leave babies feeling anxious. And as already sleep deprived parents, they can push us to new limits as well.
The good news is that there’s a lot you can do to help your baby, naturally. And the silver lining is that this is a wonderful opportunity to connect more deeply with your little one during your mini-crisis, growing her trust in you that you’ll always be there whenever she needs you. So, here are eight tips that have helped me when my baby has a cold and a stuffy nose that I hope will help you too.
01. Breastfeed Your Baby, Often
Nurse, nurse, and nurse again. Breastfed babies tend to get fewer colds and recover faster with less severe symptoms. Breastmilk is chock full of powerful chemicals called antibodies. When a breastfeeding mother is exposed to a cold virus her body produces specific antibodies to the virus.
When she breastfeeds these antibodies are passed to her baby providing an immune boost to fight the virus and rid the infection quickly. Interestingly, the mother doesn’t need to get sick herself. Just being close to her baby will stimulate antibody production specific to the virus her baby is dealing with.
02. Carry Your Baby
Babywearing rocks. I wear my son every chance I get. There are countless benefits to babywearing, but for now, in relation to colds, the benefits I’ve experienced are:
- Babies feel better being in an upright position. It allows stuffy noses and nasal congestion to clear so that breathing becomes easier which promotes restful sleep. When my little man has a cold he naps in his carrier which is a godsend.
- Babywearing reduces the incidence of ear infections which can be a complication of colds. Wearing babies upright allows fluids to drain away from the ears naturally, reducing the chance of an ear infection taking hold.
- Wearing babies improves immunological protection. The sense of touch is critical in the healthy physical and emotional development of infants. Without regular and prolonged periods of touch babies produce the stress hormone, cortisol. High levels of cortisol reduce white blood cell production which are vital in combatting infections and keeping the immune system healthy.
I’ve created a page just for you outlining all you need to know about babywearing here – I cover stretchy wraps, soft structured carriers and backpacking carriers. At home, I use a Moby wrap and have done since my little man was a newborn. When out and about we use our Beco Soleil. And more recently we’ve splurged on a Tula Toddler – my favorite so far. And being winter we needed a warm, wind and waterproof cover – we love our Chimparoo!
03. Unblock Your Baby’s Stuffy Nose
Imagine having a cold and not being able to blow your nose. That’s how your baby feels. Until toddlers are around two years old they can’t clear their noses properly. So, they need your help!
A gentle saltwater mist which can be sprayed up baby’s nose is a must. It cleanses excessive mucous in the nasal passages and it will also encourage your baby to sneeze and expel more mucous. We’ve been using Hydrasense Ultra Gentle Mist for babies.
Have you heard of the Nose Frida Snot Sucker? It’s a unique nasal aspirator that forms a seal on the outside of your baby’s nostril as compared to a traditional aspirator that enters your baby’s nostril (way less comfortable). Often when our little guy can’t sleep and I can hear that he has a stuffy nose, I use the Nose Frida and then he peacefully drifts off. He doesn’t love it but it works!
04. Boost Your Baby’s Immunity
Vitamin D and probiotics can strengthen your baby’s immune system. Known as the sunshine vitamin; our bodies produce it naturally with exposure to the sun. Vitamin D is vital for the immune system to function properly.
Babies can become Vitamin D deficient as we try to protect them from the sun. In places like Canada with long dark winters supplementation becomes even more important. The standard recommendation for a breastfeeding infant is 400IU daily. It’s important to check with your doctor as this dose can vary based on individual factors including geography and age of your baby.
Probiotics are incredible and can help with conditions ranging from eczema to allergies to diarrhea. Over 80% of our immune systems are found in our digestive systems. This is why it’s vital to maintain a healthy gut in order to have a robust immune system. Giving probiotics to your baby will help ensure he has a healthy gut.
I give my little guy probiotics every day. The product we use is HMF Natogen Probiotic by Genestra. It has a great mix of the essential bacteria babies need including Bifidobacterium infantis. It comes as a powder and he loves taking it. I buy it from my naturopath but it’s also available online. Another brilliant product range is BioGaia available as liquid drops.
05. Elevate the Bed For Your Baby’s Sleep
What is the best sleeping position for a baby with a stuffy nose? Well, whether your baby sleeps in a crib or cosleeps with you (like us), inclining the head end of the bed can help clear congestion, which makes sleeping easier. Crib wedges can be placed under the fitted sheet in the crib or bed to help elevate babies heads.
06. Humidify The Air To Help Stuffy Noses
Dry air, which is made worse by central heating in winter, causes nasal mucus to thicken, build up and cause nasal congestion.
Using either a warm air vaporizer or a cool air humidifier helps clear nasal passages. Personally, I prefer warm air vaporizers but either will work. My vaporizer has a medicine well which I add eucalyptus to really help clear my baby’s airways. If you do use a warm air vaporizer be sure to keep it out of reach of your baby as they can pose a burn hazard.
07. Use Homeopathy to Help Ease Cold Symptoms
Homeopathic remedies are a safe alternative to standard cold and flu medications for babies and are my go to when it comes to home remedies for baby colds (and just about any health issue!). We have a family homeopath so when my baby got a cold I asked her which remedies would work best based on his individual symptoms.
Homeopathy is effective and also free from side effects. If you don’t have a family homeopath, you can find remedies at your local health store or pharmacy. Boiron produces excellent remedies for colds and also for teething and colic. Their product, Coryzalia provides relief from sneezing, nasal congestion and low grade fever. The remedy comes as a liquid in individual ampoules and they’re so easy to give.
08. Sleep and rest as much as possible
Sleep and rest are key to recovery from any illness. And when your baby has a cold she is more restless than ever. A baby who was sleeping at night may now wake hourly (as my little guy was with his first cold) and nap schedules go out the window. Accept that this is the way it is…and that it’s temporary.
In addition to the tips above do anything you can think of to get in those precious naps as they will speed up your baby’s recovery – go for a long drive if your baby sleeps well in the car for example. For me, babywearing is so helpful.
The start of my son’s first cold coincided with the first winter snow in Vancouver so I snuggled up in the middle of the day with my little guy to help him get more sleep – pure mummy bliss!
Take It Easy on Yourself, Mama
Hopefully, these tips help you with your baby’s first cold. And remember, what your baby needs most is Mum and Dad. She needs cuddles, reassurance, and a tone of TLC.
Although it was rough, my son’s first cold gave me the chance to connect with him on a deeper level.
It was an opportunity to pull out all my mummy know-how and it gave us the chance to curl up inside and watch our first snow together – not too bad after all.