Anyone who has experienced a baby with a cold knows that it can really be miserable.
According to the NHS website, ‘while adults usually have two to four colds a year, children can catch as many as 8 to 12’ as they haven’t yet built up an immunity to all those bugs! JJ has just recovered from his third so he’s well on his way to his 8 to 12 this year! I just keep telling myself that he’s building an amazing immune system for the future.
So, having experienced three colds and two horrible vaccination reactions I feel quite familiar with the world of Calpol, poorly cuddles and cold remedies. I’ve spoken to a lot of friends about what has and hasn’t worked and thought it might be useful to share what I’ve learnt for those who are yet to experience your baby’s first cold.
JJ’s first two colds were particularly unpleasant. Babies don’t breathe through their mouths right away and I can’t even begin to imagine how horrible having a blocked nose must be when you breathe only through your nose. During JJ’s first cold there was one night where I was cuddling or feeding him all night and wasn’t able to put him down as he’d snort through his snotty nose and wake himself back up almost instantly! Eventually he fell asleep in the morning on my lap and I let him sleep for two hours despite being desperate for a wee! As he’s getting older, colds are getting ‘easier’ and I’ve learnt that there are lots of ways to cope.
Firstly, more milk and more cuddles work wonders. When I’m poorly I just want to snuggle up so I totally understand why JJ wants this! Same as for adults, the recommendation is lots of fluids and lots of rest. We tried to give JJ extra water too which he started drinking enthusiastically then got very cross when he realised it wasn’t milk! So, we ended up doing an extra feed (or little snacks of milk) on all the days he was particularly fragile instead.
Here are the extra bits I’ve learnt along the way…
To help breathing:
- Raising the head of the cot/moses basket by propping it up on books (or something similar)
- Using a towel or blanket to make baby sleep on their side
- Saline nose drops – I found best to give JJ just before a feed as he hated it and I could then distract him with milk. A friend of mine recommends doing it whilst feeding as then her baby doesn’t even notice!
- Calpol plug in (3+ months) – I had a cold too when we used this and found it really helped me too!
- Humidifier – we have a Vicks one which we now use most nights, you need to put a lot of towels around it to soak up the moisture but it definitely helps with JJ’s breathing so totally worth it! We went for cool mist rather than the warm, we figured it would be safer once he was moving around and trying to touch it! You can also put a Vicks scent pad in (like the calpol plug in).
- Snufflebabe vapour rub (I’m sure other brands are also good) – after a recommendation from a friend (and the internet!) we rubbed this on JJ’s feet before putting on his baby-gro. We chose not to put it on his chest incase he rubbed it and then put his hands in his mouth and eyes (which he frequently does!) You can also put it on a muslin and hang it in the room out of reach.
For a cough:
- Tixylix cough syrup – JJ had a horrible dry cough and I’m pretty sure his throat was sore as he was doing raspy soundless cries and this seemed to really soothe him.
And of course, there’s Calpol (way cheaper in a chemist/supermarket), the wonder medicine. JJ has had a temperature quite a few times and Calpol has really helped to bring it down.
I’m learning more and more that, as his Mum (same goes for Dad), I know JJ and I know if he’s ‘not right’. So, sometimes there will be times where we just know that he doesn’t feel well and Calpol, or cuddles, or an extra nap have really helped. So, trust yourself and trust your instincts. I don’t know whether you’re a ‘rush to the Doctor straight away’ or ‘wait and see if it gets better first’ type of person but the NHS website is really good for helping you figure out when to go if you’re not sure. And, as a midwife told me early on, they’d much rather you went in unnecessarily than didn’t go.
Here’s to getting through those colds and to our babies getting stronger immune systems!