Max has only been sick once so far: When he turned one month old, his grandparents held a Red Egg and Ginger Party (a Chinese tradition celebrating a baby’s one month old birthday), at a restaurant, with lots of guests, in December.
In hindsight, not the wisest decision I’ve made so far as a parent.
So anyway, he caught a cold shortly thereafter. Having a newborn who is sick is really tough. I will not get into what it must be like to be a parent who has to spend time with their child in the ICU, whose child has a debilitating disease, or basically a child with anything worse than a cough and a fever.
This is just me talking about my baby who had a cold. So yeah, it’s hard because you know your baby is suffering and you wish that you could have whatever your baby has one hundredfold if that meant he/she doesn’t have to experience any pain or discomfort. Ever.
We are currently battling one of the worst flu seasons in years. As such, I thought it would be helpful to share the natural methods I used when Max was dealing with an mild (in retrospect) cold.
1. Clear congestion by sitting in a steamy bathroom with baby for as long as you can stand.
Find the smallest bathroom you have with a tub/shower. Run the water on the hottest setting. Shut the door. Strip baby down to a onesie or diaper. Sit in the bathroom while holding baby upright for as long as you and baby can stand it.
Max enjoyed being in the steam and I found that this really helped him to breathe better.
2. Clear congestion by sucking the snot out.
The NoseFrida is basically an ingenious device where you put an applicator up to the baby’s nostril and suck through a tube as hard as you can. Yes, it is as gross as it sounds. But, don’t worry, the snot will NOT get in your mouth.
I really can’t describe how immensely satisfying it is to suck out large globs of snot from Max’s nose. This product is really a lifesaver and a must-have!
Note: I wouldn’t recommend using a nasal bulb because the applicator is inserted inside the baby’s nostril. A sick and twitching baby with something stuck up his/her nose = recipe for disaster.
3. Clear congestion by keeping baby upright whenever possible.
So far, all of these tips in helping baby are really to help with congestion. A baby who can breathe will be a significantly happier baby. Am I right?
My husband gets to claim the glory for this one. He basically held or wore Max, so that he was always in an upright position, while sleeping/napping. Am I advocating the safest sleep habits right now? Absolutely not. This is just what we did as distraught, sleep-deprived, first-time parents.
4. Use a digital ear thermometer to measure temperature.
There are many ways to measure a baby’s temperature: With an oral, temporal (forehead), armpit, rectal, or ear thermometer. While a rectal thermometer is the most accurate, the last thing I want to do is to stick something in Max’s butt when he’s sick. Or anytime, for that matter.
Oral thermometers are the next most accurate but… well, you know, good luck with that.
Temporal and armpit may be easier methods but are also less accurate ways to measure temperature.
That leaves me with the digital ear thermometer which, I think, has the best combination of accuracy, ease-of-use, and minimal intrusiveness. I like the Braun Ear Thermometer which delivers FAST results (about 3 seconds) with barely any protest. With this device, I could easily take Max’s temperature multiple times a day.
Even now, if Max seems to be running too warm, I just pop in the thermometer for a quick read.
5. Breastfeed. Non-stop.
Ok, so this only applies to moms who are breastfeeding (obviously), but this is one area where breastfeeding women have a HUGE advantage. I’m not starting a formula vs. breast is best debate as I did both. I’m just stating facts: Breastmilk contains antibodies that are tailored made for baby. When a baby gets sick and a breastfeeding mother is exposed to those pathogens, her body will produce antibodies in the breastmilk to fight those pathogens. It’s actually pretty cool stuff when you think about it.
6. Call your pediatrician but don’t go in unless you have to.
Your pediatrician will ask you a series of questions to assess the extent of your baby’s illness. The thing is, most colds and the flu are viral. What that means is there is no cure. The only thing a doctor can do is provide relief for the baby’s symptoms, e.g. prescribe Infant Tylenol or Advil.
Max’s pediatrician told us not to come in because it wasn’t worth taking my not-so-seriously-sick infant into a waiting room and expose him to potentially very-seriously-sick children.
What do you do when your baby is sick?
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