Your baby’s first cold will be a less than pleasant milestone. A new baby can catch a cold at any age or time of year. Your baby can get as many as 8-10 colds a year for their first 2 years. Fussiness, coughing, trouble falling and staying asleep, and trouble breastfeeding are all the perfect cocktail for a miserable few days for both you and baby!
Babies can get colds because their immune system is still fully developing – making them not ready to fight off the many viruses that cause these infections. The cold virus is particular contagious as it is airborne when one sneezes or coughs, and can land on any surface such as your baby’s toys or bottle. Many young children pick up colds at daycare as well – being around older children makes them more susceptible to more bacteria!
Babies typically show signs of a cold a couple days into the infection. Symptoms can range from mild to severe but usually include:
- Stuffy and runny nose
- Fatigue (often coupled with being unable to sleep due to congested nose)
- Reduced appetite
- Vomiting or diarrhea
While these symptoms might make you extremely nervous to see, your baby should start to feel better in around a week. However, if your child’s fever or vomiting/ diarrhea seems severe, see your primary care physician at once. For infants up to 3 months, any fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit warrants calling the doctor right away.
While there are no clear treatments available for the common cold, there are some things you can do to help your baby feel more at ease.
Clear out mucus
Your baby’s stuffed nose will make it difficult for him/her to nurse, sleep, and even breathe. Try using a mucus dislodging bulb – you can purchase one at your local pharmacy. Squeeze the head of the bulb to release the air inside and insert it into your baby’s nose. Although your baby may cry from discomfort, this will not hurt your baby if done gently. Tilt the tip of the end of the syringe portion of the bulb down so that it is perpendicular to the face and release the pressure to remove it from the nose.
Hydration is key
Staying hydrated when you have a cold is one of the most important aspects of cold treatment. This is even more important for your baby as he/she cannot tell you when they are thirsty or need more moisture. Encourage your baby to nurse or take a bottle as much as possible even when they refuse. If your baby doesn’t drink you can consult your doctor about an electrolyte solution so they don’t become dehydrated. You can also try feeding your baby in an upright position to alleviate congestion and mucus from interfering with feeding.
Humidify, humidify, humidify…
Placing a cool mist humidifier where your baby sleeps during naps and nighttime can help alleviate their discomfort and aid sleeping. Humidifiers moisten the air and relieve coughing and congestion. Make sure to fill the humidifier with fresh water everyday so it doesn’t get moldy. Alternatively, if you don’t have a humidifier taking your baby into a room with a running shower may help alleviate the congestion as well. However, make sure to monitor your baby’s comfort level and make sure he/she is not too hot.