Can you tell by the title that I wrote this post at Christmas??
I was pretty chuffed that Prim got to 13 months without being ill. There were a snotty few days when she was two months old and the inevitable teething snot and nasty nappies, but that was it. In November, we made up for it with two days of a tummy bug that somehow segued into a cold and cough before ending with an ear infection. Of course, I had no idea about the ear infection until both ear drums burst. Coupled with the protracted arrival of a lower molar and developmental ‘Leap 9’, which I’ve recently seen referred to a ‘purgatory’, and you have the recipe for a pretty crappy few weeks. I was ill too, which helped not a bit!
How to deal with these winter colds?
**Please visit your GP/Call 111 if your baby is under 3m and has a temperature of <38°, is over 3m and has a temperature of <39°, if you think it has spread to their chest or if you sense that something just isn’t ‘right’: You know your baby better than anyone.**
This can feel like a tricky time as most products on the market are only to be used on babies over 3 months. It’s also utterly frustrating that babies and small children cannot blow their noses! When Prim was snotty at two months, we squirted expressed milk up her nose (big up the women who have good enough aim to do it straight from the boob!). Saline sprays and drops can also be used at this age. Sterimar, Snufflebabe and Calpol all have their versions, as does Boots and various Supermarket brands are available. There are also instructions online for making your own.
Also useful (slightly gross but useful) are nasal aspirators. We used a bulb one, which did the trick, but many parents swear by the ones with a tube, which you suck (don’t worry, snot will categorically NOT go into your mouth):
A humidifier (Or bowl of water on a radiator) helps keep the air slightly damp and stops little mouths drying out when they can’t breathe through their nose. Be sure to air rooms each day, and clean out humidifiers, to stop the build-up of mould that can result from the moisture.
At this stage, no mentholated products such as Vicks, Snufflebabe or Baby Olbas Oil are safe to use; their airways are so narrow it can actually make them worse. Aromatherapy oils must also be used with caution – you may think that peppermint or eucalyptus are natural oils and, therefore, safe. On the contrary, eucalyptus and rosemary are not safe for children under ten and peppermint should not be used under the age of six. For further information, this is a useful page.
Colds at 3m+: As above, but Calpol and infant Nurofen can now be used to help with any fever or pain (Calpol from 2m, Nurofen from 3). I was reluctant to give either when Prim was tiny, for fear of masking something more serious, but it was good to know that it could be used.
Three months also marks the point when (some) vapour rubs can be used. Always check what age these are suitable from. We use Snufflebabe vapour rub on Prim’s chest, back and feet and the vapour oil in a humidifier. Previously, we have also used Mum & Me ‘Mild Menthol’ baby bath.
Wrapping them up warm and getting out into the fresh air each day can really help, though use your own instinct here as whether your little one is up to it (coughs, especially, may benefit from staying indoors in the warm). We also gave P a spoonful of honey a few times a day ONCE SHE WAS OVER TWELVE MONTHS, to help ease her coughing. More information is available here. NB: Never give honey to babies under 12 months!
These are brilliant for snotty noses when you’re on the go. They’re like wet wipes but with saline, so they draw out snot and soothe too:
Finally, it’s worth noting that over the counter cough medicines generally aren’t advised for children under 6 years and can actually make things worse. Further details are available here.
Jo, The Mother Side xx