Spring has sprung, and summer is sneaking in the back door, the days are warm and the flowers are blooming! Time for your baby to catch a cold, or show the sings of seasonal allergies. After you have gone to the Dr. and have been told that your baby is okay, and that in a few days everything will return to normal you are left returning home with a miserable baby. Fortunately there are a few things you can do to make things easier on your baby. Keep in mind that these tips are not intended to diagnose or treat the underlying cause of your babies discomfort. These tips are only designed to alleviate the symptoms of infant colds and seasonal allergy-type sensitivities. If at any time you notice a change in the symptoms your baby is exhibiting contact your Pediatrician to receive a professional diagnosis.
1. Place your baby in a bouncy-seat for naps, and even night-sleep.
The bouncy-seat should not be bounced, but the incline can be very beneficial to your baby. When a baby has a stuffy head, laying flat can be very uncomfortable. Runny noses can become a post-nasal drip and cause a sore throat as well when a baby is placed flat on their back. I would recommend placing the bouncy-seat in the nursery, or near where your infant sleeps regularly, in order to keep as much continuity in the sleep routine as possible.
2. Use saline drops and bulb to clear nasal passage ways before you lay your baby down to sleep, and before feeding times.
If your babies nose is running, just using the bulb will generally be effective in clearing your babies airway. However, if your baby is congested but their nose is not running, saline drops will help break up the mucus for easier removal with the bulb. I personally have used breast milk in the place of saline drops to great effect, but stop short or actually recommending that others do so because of a lack of widespread medical support of the practice (though many babies spit up through their noses on a fairly regular basis with no negative side effects). It is important to do this before feeding time to reduce the amount of mucus your baby swallows, as that can result in an upset stomach. Also, if your baby can breath easily while eating, they will be able to eat more, and it will be less of an effort for them. Sleeping is also much easier with cleared nasal passages, though you will probably need to re-clear them a couple of times a night.
3. To sooth itchy eyes use a couple of drops of breast milk.
Breast milk has been shown to be an effective remedy for conjunctivitis, and safe for application to your babies eyes. Use a sterile dropper, and just drop one or two drops in each eye a few times a day if your babies eyes seem red and swollen. This should be soothing and calming for your babies eye tissue, if the redness doesn't decrease or increases, discontinue this treatment.
4. Use a humidifier in your babies room or near where your baby sleeps.
Air with a little moisture in it can sooth the breathing passages for your baby and keep them from having dried out mucus irritate their sensitive noses and throats. Keeping the air moist is very good for your babies resistance to reinfection as well. Dry mucus membranes can develop small cracks that render your baby more susceptible to viruses. Adding a couple drops of tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil or lavender oil to the water in your humidifier will also be a bit more soothing for your baby.
5. Dab a small amount of Water based lubricant around your babies nose to reduce friction from nose-wiping.
Aquaphor and Aqueous Cream are a couple of my favorite types of baby safe water based lubricants, safe for babies nose, and easy on the environment. They seal in the moisture of your baby's skin and seal out the bacteria and germs in the mucus. If your baby is drooling a lot you can also rub some Aquaphor on their chin and neck to help prevent chafing and acne.
Trick: Some breastfeeding mothers swear by the practice of eating a lot of garlic while their baby is sick, to pass the beneficial properties through their milk. You can also try this with vitamin C, and zinc, though always check with your Pediatrician before making any major changes to your diet while breastfeeding.