Doesn’t your heart just break? Here you are with your little baby that depends on you for EVERYTHING and she gets sick much to your dismay. She can’t tell you what is wrong and you really can’t give her anything. You have tried your hardest to protect her with natural antibodies from breast milk and by shielding from the common cold by asking guests to please wash their hands and asking snotty nosed kids to stay out of her face and yet here you are. You took her at the beginning of the flu season to get her flu shot (both flu shots because babies receive the flu shot in two separate shots a month apart), and it appears she has something. She is stuffed up, coughing, can’t sleep because her congestion and cough is waking her up. She is carrying a low grade fever and isn’t happy at all. As a matter of fact, she is downright, itchy-eyed, runny-nosed, chapped-cheeks SICK.
That was me with my poor little Mattelyn. Not just once, but THREE TIMES in the month of December – so let’s just say the entire month of December. First and foremost, I am just like all other first time moms. I take her to the doctor whenever it is recommended and call them when she has a fever. Which is what we’re supposed to do. But doctors don’t want to give a baby antibiotics unless they absolutely feel it is necessary. We also can’t give baby cold and flu over the counter medication. And all I want is to make her more comfortable!
So I thought I would share what we did the month of December to help her out – make her more comfortable. And since we were open to everything because it was absolutely miserable watching her go through it over and over again, we tried quite a few things! Most of this is par for the course and what you would likely think to do. But sometimes as first time moms and dads, when we are told there really isn’t much we can do, our minds go blank. That’s what happened to us, anyway! So these I feel are worth the share or reminder:
1. HUMIDIFIER – The air is SO DRY in our house because we keep it extra warm when Mattelyn is sick. It dries out their nose and their skin. It is AMAZING the difference when we run the humidifier all night. She sleeps so much better and when she wakes up, she isn’t as congested. Without the humidifier, she was waking up coughing and couldn’t breathe. We especially LOVE the Vicks VapoPads that you can put into the humidifier and the vapor is diffused into the air. It is amazing and makes it so much more comfortable in there.
2. CHAMOIS SHEET – these sheets are phenomenal. And lets be honest – it doesn’t have to chamois from Pottery Barn! I am just making a point – a comfy, snuggly warm sheet – chamois or flannel – is much more soothing to a sick baby with chapped cheeks than a cold, uncomfortable cotton or polyester sheet.
3. NOSE ASPIRATOR & SIMPLY SALINE SPRAY – My recommendation?? TRY IT ON YOURSELF FIRST. Once you use the nose aspirator on YOURSELF or your partner, you will realize that it is an odd feeling but it DOESN’T HURT and it isn’t even that uncomfortable! That will make the struggle that is about to ensue much easier to handle. Honestly, my husband thought I was crazy when I told him I was going to try it – but I didn’t want to do something to her that would hurt her. So I did it myself and of course, it isn’t a big deal. Hold them down and GET IT OUT (ask your partner to help). The more you remove for them – (the BEST TIME is RIGHT AFTER A BATH and before bed) – the better off they are. The last thing you want is for it to get into their chest. If you are adamant about it and do it several times (more if you can) a day, it will cut the length of their cold down. They can’t get it out by blowing their nose. They will vehemently disapprove and scream and carry on but they are okay and you can be sure you are doing them a favor.
The Simply Saline by Arm & Hammer is really a great design and shoots the saline into the nasal passage much more easily than the brands that come in packaging that forces you to lie baby on their back and drop into their nose cavities. It will break up the congestion and get the blockage moving. If you do this PRIOR to the nose aspirator, it will get the fluids moving and make it easier to get more out. Our little Mattelyn actually got to where my husband could show it to her and as though it was a game, she would stick her little nose out to him and ACTUALLY allow him to spray it in both nostrils! (She of course never let me do it, but hey, as long as it was getting done!)
4. BOOGIE WIPES – These are small tissue-like wipes that have saline (and only saline) in them. This makes the consistent, constant wiping of the nose more bearable as everything is chapped and sore. We have a canister or a small package of Boogie Wipes next to her playroom, in her nursery, on the couch, at the table where I feed her, in the car, in the diaper bag – wherever you are is where these need to be…
5. MUSTELA HYDRA-STICK and VICKS BABY RUB – The Mustela Hydra-stick is a MIRACLE for chapped cheeks. Her cheeks got so red and chapped that her skin actually looks scaly, so sad! This hydra-stick is non-greasy and has no scent. It cleared her little pink cheeks over night. Baby’s skin is so very NEW and THIN that it is ten times as sensitive as ours. It’s so important to lotion them and to pay special attention to their skin especially in the dry, winter air – both outside and inside. I began using it every day and especially after a bath and before bed. The Hydra-stick is on the expensive side ($9.99 available among other retailers, at Babies R Us) but given the lotions that are also recommended for chapped skin, it is only about $2-3 more and the performance is worth the extra spend. The Vicks BabyRub we used at the end of her cold. We rubbed a tiny amount on her chest and there is a rumor that putting it on the bottoms of their feet help as well.
6. ANTIBACTERIAL WET ONES – they touch everything (and put it in their mouth) and everything carries a germ. While their immune system is already compromised, it can be even more alarming when you are out and they touch things. Carry antibacterial wipes at all times! And wipe those handies! Also – wipe other kids hands or offer a wipe to them, especially other runny-nosed kids. Try to keep them out of the same area as baby. Encourage all visitors that come into your house to wash their hands with antibacterial soap as well. My husband works downtown in a high-rise with 5,000 other people breathing in recirculated flu-infected air everyday. And, he is on a commuter train for an hour to work and an hour home everyday with another 1,000 people. When he gets home, he takes his shirt off and washes his hands and face – religiously. We made that something he began doing when she was really little and just kept doing it. He is in contact with SO MUCH everyday that it is a no-brainer if she is going to be affected by anything, it would probably come from daddy!
7. Vaseline – 100% Pure Petroleum Jelly – use liberally on chapped cheeks and nose before going out into the cold. This stuff is cheap and easy to carry three or four with you – in your diaper bag, in the car, in the camera bag. This is a perfect barrier on the skin to moisture and cold air that will further inflame an already sensitive area of baby’s skin.
8. The BrAun ThermoScan Baby Thermometer for the Ear – It is worth the money and peace of mind to have this! It is so very accurate and will put your mind at ease. ESPECIALLY at 3am when they wake up screaming. We spent more than the cost of this thermometer buying the not so expensive ones that are pacifiers, or the digital under the tongue thermometers. The batteries never last, it’s impossible to get a baby to suck for the amount of time necessary to get an accurate reading from the pacifier thermometer – if they can’t breathe – how are they going to keep their mouths shut to suck on a pacifier? This will make such a difference in your life and the well-being of your little one. AND, it’s SO EASY and QUICK!
9. VICKS VAPOPADS for the Humidifier – as I described above, these are wonderful. They fill the air with breathable Vicks soothing sleepy time comfort. They can be pricey as each pad lasts for only 8 hours. But in the height of their misery, this is worth the coin.
10. 100% JUICE – my doctor has told me that he doesn’t want me to give Mattelyn juice for the simple fact that all benefits of juice she will get from her food and, he believes that juice (and other sugary drinks) are one of the leading causes of obesity in children. 100% juice has natural sugars – however, sugar is sugar and will be processed/metabolized the same way and can lead to stored fat. That said, he did recommend giving Mattelyn watered-down juice while she is sick because the more fluids in, the more fluids out and she needs her little system FLUSHED.
11. Johnson’s Soothing Vapor Baby Bath – Still the No More Tears formula, this is just that, another way to soothe a baby’s congestion while giving them a bath. This aids in their breathing while they take a bath and is safe to use. I particular liked giving her a bath and using it AFTER sitting in the bathroom while a hot shower was run for 15 minutes.
12. Steam from a hot shower – It is SO BENEFICIAL to bring baby into a bathroom and let the hot shower steam up the room while they play on the floor with a waterproof toy. When they are miserable and nothing seems to be helping them, allowing the steam to enter their nasal passages and their pores in their skin is incredibly effective. Their chest opens up and their bronchial tubes clear, relaxing because they are warm and stimulated rather than constricted. TRY THIS.
13. Infants’ Advil – Our pediatrician recommended either Infants’ Motrin or Infants’ Advil. We tried both. And again, I TRIED THEM TOO and would recommend you do as well. I took the same amount that they recommend for baby so that I knew what it was going to taste like for her. The baby Motrin was really distasteful. She let us know, too. She would refuse to take it and when she would, she would hold it in her mouth and then spit it out. I thought the after taste was even worse on the back of my tongue. Not believing there would be much difference, I tried the Infants’ Advil. This was much different. The flavor was more pleasant and the after taste was non-existent. She took it with ease and I never had a problem again. My recommendation – buy the Infants’ Advil – baby will thank you for it!
14. Allow baby to sleep sitting up for a nap during the day against your chest. You are home with sick baby anyway and right now is the time to cuddle your little sick baby! She wants your extra love and attention and if you have the time, do her a favor and let her sleep on your chest while you are sitting on the couch to take her nap. She will benefit from your warmth, love and comfort and being elevated will help her with congestion and drainage. This can be very beneficial and assist with bonding.
15. Lastly, continue with all of the fruits and vegetables in their diet that are high in Vitamin C among other nutrients and vitamins. Make sure that your baby continues to eat even if he doesn’t act as interested.
Baby needs loves, hugs and kisses right now and you’re the one to shower them with them!
Love and luck and I hope this is helpful in bringing comfort to your little one!
XO ~ Stephanie