Q: My 4-month-old is sick with a cold and miserable. My husband wants to give her a tiny dose of cold medicine to relieve her congestion, but I say no — my doctor told me that babies can’t have over-the-counter cold medications. My doctor also says it could take seven to 10 days for the cold to clear her system. Is there anything I can do to help her be more comfortable?
A: I know exactly how you feel. My son came home from the hospital when he was born with a sore throat and congestion, which the nurses told me had something to do with the suction they had to use to clear his throat after he was born. I felt terrible that I couldn’t make him feel any better, but after speaking to my pediatrician and to other moms, I found some natural ways to give him some relief and I have used them ever since.
It’s a good thing you didn’t give him any cold or cough medicine. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against giving any child under the age of 2 any over-the-counter cold medicines and says these medications are not effective in children up to the age of 6, and can even be harmful to your child. So tell your husband ix-nay on the Dimetapp! Meanwhile, it’s good to know that when your child is experiencing cold symptoms, it may be uncomfortable for him, but it is not dangerous.
Here is what you can do to give him some relief.
Put a cool-mist humidifier in his room when he sleeps. The extra humidity will help open his nasal passages and make it easier for him to breathe. Why cool mist, you ask? Because water or steam from a warm-mist humidifier can burn your child if he gets too close. Ouch!
Use a saline nasal spray, and then a bulb syringe.Though sometimes jarring to your little one, this combo is like no other when it comes to relieving congestion. Think about it: Unlike you and me, your baby cannot blow his nose and therefore cannot clear out all that mucus. Just spray a squirt or two in each nostril and then use the bulb syringe to clear out the boogies. My daughter absolutely hates this, so we reserve it for worst-case scenarios. It works like a charm, though.
Put a wedge in his crib. You know how you sometimes sleep on two pillows instead of one if you have a cold? This helps all the mucus in your nose drain downward instead of making you more congested when you lie on your back. A wedge essentially does the same thing as sleeping on an extra pillow except that it’s safer for kids in cribs. The wedge goes underneath your child’s sheet (check out this one). My son loved his wedge so much that we leave it in his crib all the time, even when he’s not sick (and it sure beats struggling to fit the crib sheet over it each time he needs it.)
Take your child with you into a steam shower. It’s 3 a.m., your child is crying, and you’ve tried everything — the crib wedge, the humidifier and even the bulb syringe. Now what? Try stripping him down and taking him with you into the bathroom. Turn on a warm shower, have a seat with him on the toilet with one of his favorite teething toys, close the door, and presto. You’ve got your own personal sauna. (You might want to strip down too before you do this.) The steam from the shower will help clear the congestion in your child’s nose — just make sure you wrap him nice and tight when you come out because he’ll be a bit chilly.
Finally, try a good cuddle on the rocking chair. There’s no proof this actually helps relieve any cold symptoms, but in a dark room in the middle of the night, it sure feels good for both of you. Hope your little one feels better soon.
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