Relieving Infant Cold, Cough or Congestion- What you need to know!

Cold, which is often manifested as cough, runny nose or congestion, is not uncommon among small children. It is a major milestone that every child will pass through, at some point. Colds are mostly caused by viruses which affect the mouth, nose and throat, and usually run their full circle within 10-14 days. Small children are very susceptible to colds because of their developing immune system and their exposure to adults or other older children who do not wash their hands frequently.

Runny nose is usually a great way for the body to get rid of germs, but this can lead to congestion when there is too much mucus build-up. Congestion is very uncomfortable, particularly for infants or babies, since they cannot blow their nose. They may find it hard to breathe, nurse or feed and may become very irritable…..so to relieve your baby, you would need to find a way to get the mucus out.It is always advisable to see a doctor or pediatrician the moment infants who are less than three months old catch a cold. This is because infants are very susceptible to dehydration, pneumonia, croup and other serious complications related to cold.

If your child has just a common cold, with no complications, the cold will usually go on its own after running its course, but below are a few home remedies to help relieve your child’s symptoms and discomfort during that time.

Increase your child’s fluid intakes:

To prevent dehydration, it is very important to make sure your baby gets enough fluids. You may offer your child breast milk, formula, or water, if your child is used to powdered formula or solids. Breast milk is particularly helpful to your child during such times because it contains antibodies that can help your child heal faster.

Boost your child’s  immune system with Probiotics:

Probiotics would help strengthen the immune system and maintain the healthy intestinal flora in your baby.

Saline Nasal Drops or Sprays:

These are made from saltwater solutions to help loosen or thin out mucus and keep your child’s nasal passages moist. The resultant loose mucus can be sucked out with a nasal aspirator or nasal bulb. Doing this is very helpful before your baby feeds or naps, but make sure not to overuse the drops or sprays, as they can have a rebound effect. It is advisable not to use drops or sprays beyond three to five consecutive days.

Nasal Aspirators or Bulbs:

Nasal aspirators or bulbs can be used to clear your baby’s stuffy nose, so that he can breathe better….but make sure to wash the aspirators or bulbs with soap and warm water after each use.

Baby Vapor Rub:

Baby vapor rub can be applied to your baby’s back or chest so your baby can breathe more easily. Applying this to a baby’s nostrils could restrict his ability to breath properly.

Humidifier, Vaporizer or Steamy Bathroom: 

Cool mist humidifiers or vaporizers can help add moisture to the air, shrink your child’s nasal passages, loosen his mucus, open up his airways or relieve his cough. Warm mist humidifiers should be avoided because they may cause nasal passages to swell and make breathing very difficult. Also make sure  to wash humidifiers or vaporizers regularly to prevent mold growth. You do not want your child inhaling mold infected mist or air because molds are proven to cause respiratory illnesses. Alternatively, if you cannot use a humidifier or vaporizer, you may hold your baby in a steamy bathroom, to create the same effect.

 Avoid Cold & Cough Syrups

Except for the use of fever or pain reducers to lower your child’s fever, aches or pain, it is advisable not to give Over-The-Counter medications, (OTCS ), to small children because of adverse reactions. Children’s fever reducers include Acetaminophens such as children’s Paracetamol and Tylenol, for babies older than 3 months; or Ibuprofens such as children’s Motrin and  Advil for babies older than 6 months.

Cold and cough medication should be avoided in children who are less than four years old. While most cold and cough syrups have been re-labeled for children four years and older, the US FDA specifically warns against giving cold and cough syrups to children who are less than two years old. This is because the use of such medications are proven to have no impact in a child’s recovery and may lead to convulsion, rapid heart rate or even death in small children.* Most importantly, remember to always check with your child’s pediatrician before giving your child any medication.

Pat Your Baby’s Back:

You may also pat your baby’s back , gently with cupped hands, while laying him across your knees, to help your baby loosen and cough out the mucus in his chest.

Please stay connected for our next post on How To Prevent Common Colds In Small Children!

Your comments are welcome….please feel free to share your experiences and tips with other moms!

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