Young babies are highly prone to cold. On average, it is normal for the babies under 3 years of age catching a cold (annually) around 8 times. Sometimes, depending on several factors, the number can increase to 12. Though cold is not a life-threatening illness, without any doubt, it will be very troublesome for you to watch your little one going through the discomforts that cold brings about.
Why Does My Baby Catch Cold So Frequently?
The immune system of the infants is not fully developed. This makes them more prone to infections. Only once they get an infection, they can be immune to that infection-inducing virus. Do you know that there are more than 200 types of cold-causing viruses? The child can develop immunity to cold only when he develops resistance to all types of these viruses (which is impossible as the viruses continuously undergo mutation). Anyway, eventually, they become immune to most of them. Still, until they turn 5 years, they will catch a cold easily.
Here are some interesting facts regarding common cold in children:
- A child who catches a cold frequently during the pre-school time, catches lesser colds during the school years
- Babies who experience more than one bouts of cold before their first birthday have less chance to develop asthma by the age of 7. Trust it or not, a runny nose can be something worth being thankful for. It is the body’s method for disposing off germs
Are Cold Medicines Or Over-The-Counter Medicines Safe For Treating Cold In Babies?
The answer is no. Actually, no medicines can clear the cold before the normal course of time. The cold medicines are used to ease the symptoms of the cold rather than getting rid of it.
- Antibiotics are not a remedy because the cold is a viral infection, not bacterial
- FDA’s is not encouraging antihistamines and decongestants to be given to kids under age two. If possible, it is better to avoid giving children cold medication until age three or four. Know more on medicines that you should never give your baby
- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) informs that over-the-counter medications are not successful in treating cold and cough for children below 6 years. Over and above, it can cause harmful side effects on kids below 6 years
In spite of these facts, it is important to take some measures to ease the baby. Babies are not capable of blowing their noses. Therefore, too much mucus in the nose makes the breathing and even drinking milk or eating food a difficult chore for them.
How Can I Ease The Symptoms Of Cold For My Baby?
The cold will take its own course of time to disappear (which is around 8 to 10 days). We don’t want our child to be in distress that long! Here are some alternatives for counter-top cold medicines. This will help to soothe the baby’s cold symptoms and make him feel better without taking a chance with his health:
- Try using a humidifier: Moisture in the air helps to breathe easier. So, keep a humidifier in the bedroom during the night-time. The moist air will prevent the mucus in the nose from drying out. Remember to use distilled water and cool mist models of the humidifier, which are risk-free than those producing steam
- Steaming: Making the baby sit for a while in a steamy room is very effective. It will help to loosen the mucus in the nasal passage. A warm bath in a steamy bathroom is highly beneficial. After getting the bathtub ready, turn on the hot shower and close the bathroom door for a couple of minutes. The vapor will fill the bathroom. Now, turn the shower off. You can even place a few drops of eucalyptus oil in a small bowl and keep it in the bathroom near the baby’s tub. Now let the baby play in the warm tub for some time. If the baby is not yet old enough to sit in the bathtub, you sit in the bathroom for ten to fifteen minutes by holding the baby in your hand or by putting him in your lap. See, it is very easy to give your little one a healthy steam bath
- Increase fluid intake throughout the day: Increase the baby’s fluid intake if he is experiencing cold. Additional fluids help in thinning the mucus and flushing it from the baby’s system and keeps the baby well hydrated. Any fluids like milk, water, juice, etc. are fine with older babies. However, babies under 6 months should only drink breast milk or formula milk. Just increase the frequency of feeding. If you give water to babies less than 6 months old, the ability of the baby’s body to take up the nutrients in the breast milk or formula milk will get interfered
- Give the child warm food and drink: Give older babies warm food and warm drinks when they are experiencing cold. Warm liquids like soups, warmed apple juice, etc. will help to relieve the baby’s cold symptoms like body aches, congestion, fever, tiredness, etc.
- Always give easy to swallow food: Feed the older babies soft and smooth food that can be swallowed more easily as the blocked nose always interferes with feeding
- Saline drops and bulb syringe: When your kid’s nose is stuffy, he may experience difficulty breathing, dozing, and eating. Put a couple of drops of saline solution into each nostril of the baby. Saline nasal drops will melt off the mucus that is stuffed inside the nose. You can use it two or three times per day. (Not more than that as the frequent usage could make the baby’s nose sore). Once the mucus is thinner, you can easily remove the thinned mucus by means of a bulb syringe. You can purchase both from a medical store. However, the “bulb syringe” part works best for babies below 6 months old. Older the babies will be more stubborn against using the bulb syringe. In that case, you can omit that part. Using saline drops and the bulb syringe (if possible) 15 minutes before feeding will make breastfeeding/bottle feeding/mealtime of the baby more trouble-free
- Let the baby take plenty of rest: The baby requires more energy to fight the infection, which makes him more tired. When your child takes plenty of rest, consider he is healing. Therefore, find a comfortable place for your child to rest and a quiet game or activity to occupy him. Relaxation makes the restoring energy and health faster
- Elevate the child’s head: Just like adults, elevating the head a little while sleeping will help the babies too to sleep well as it makes the breathing effective and easier for them. Therefore, put a small cushion or fold a towel under your child’s head, preferably under his mattress, while sleeping(putting a pillow directly on the crib or mattress can be dangerous). This elevated position of the head can provide him a good night’s sleep
Not each stuffy, runny nose needs treatment. As long as it is not disturbing your child, you don’t need to do anything. If your baby is active, eats, and drinks without any issues, it is fine to wait and watch before thinking of any treatment.