We all know how miserable colds can be, but imagine how much worse it would be as a baby. No way to communicate your specific discomfort or needs. No understanding of what's going on. No capacity to even do something as simple as blowing your nose. Poor baby!
Statistics show infants (especially those in day care) have an average of 6-10 colds a year. Add in the flu and you're looking at a couple months of sick days every year! Before you build a sterile bubble for your family to live in, try these easy tips for preventing and treating infant colds.
1. Keep your hands clean. Frequent hand washing is the most effective way to cut down on colds and flus, and unless you’re an germaphobe, you should probably be washing your hands more—and better. Use a simple, safe hand soap (antibacterials are unnecessary and actually pose their own risks) and rub hands vigorously for 15-20 seconds. An easy way to ensure you’re doing it long enough is to sing the ABCs a couple times—now it’s a learning moment for your baby, too. And, speaking of your baby, wash her hands as well. Think of how often those little mitts end up in her mouth! When you can’t get to a sink, use a safe hand sanitizer—something plant-based without toxic additives or synthetic questionables. (Note: Hand sanitizers are only effective on relatively clean hands, they can’t cut through dirt. Use baby wipes to rub off any dirt first.)
2. Keep your house clean. Don’t worry, you don’t need to sterilize every surface. According to pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene, “In a number of different fascinating studies, researchers have carefully cultured every imaginable surface of typical homes to find where the disease-causing germs live. It turns out that the kitchen harbors more germs than any other room in the home — yes, more than the bathroom. The greatest concentration is found in the moist germ havens we call kitchen sponges and dishcloths.” Greene says microwaving these items for 2 minutes is the most effective way at sterilizing them and it will go a long way towards preventing infections. For most other surfaces, cleaning as usual should suffice (choose natural, non-toxic cleaners to create the safest home for your baby!)
3. Make some steam. Dr. Sears recommends “steam cleaning.” He says, “Give your child steam, steam, and more steam. For infants and young children, turn the bathroom into a steam room with the door closed and the shower on full hot. Sit in there for 10 or 15 minutes.” Steam helps loosen congestion and relieve some of the discomfort of colds.
4. Make some saline. Saline drops help dilute mucous which helps keep your child’s nasal passage clear. For homemade saline drops, dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water. (Discard within 24 hours to avoid bacterial contamination.) Put 2-3 drops in each nostril and use a bulb syringe or a BabyComfyNose Nasal Aspirator to suction out the saline and mucous. (Note: Don't suction more than a few times a day or you might irritate the lining of the nose. Don't use saline drops for more than four days in a row.)
5. Cuddle and rest and cuddle some more. Being sick is miserable and extra love and attention are the perfect prescription to distract your child from the discomfort of aches and stuffiness. Cuddling also helps your baby relax and rest, which is imperative to healing. Try reading books, listening to quiet music, and maybe even a little baby massage with some soothing, natural body oil.
How do you treat colds in your home?
Discuss in the comments below!
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Before undertaking any course of treatment, you should seek the advice of your physician or other health care provider.