It’s that time of year. (Sniff, cough.) We’re all walking around armed with a pocket full of tissues and throat lozenges, if we’re not completely bed-ridden thanks to an especially bad cold. And if we feel lousy, just think about how bad it’s got to be for babies, who can’t talk to tell us what’s wrong and can’t watch bad reality TV to take their minds off their congested little chests and pink runny noses.
You should contact your pediatrician if your baby has a fever of 101 or higher—and if it’s above 103 or the baby is younger than 6 weeks, you need to go to the emergency room ASAP. For those not-so-serious situations, though, there are many home remedies and over-the-counter options that will help baby start feeling good again.
Don’t want to get baby hooked on drugs before his first birthday? We don’t blame you! Homeopathic remedies are 100% natural. Hyland’s Baby Tiny Cold Tablets are designed to relieve the symptoms of a runny nose and sneezing. Another good homeopathic option is NatraBio Children’s Cold and Flu Relief, which has a naturally sweet taste but is complete free of sugar, alcohol and drugs.
Your baby will breathe easier—and so will you—if you use saline drops and a nasal aspirator to help remove mucus. This is a time-tested and drug-free technique for freeing up the breathing passageways. Little Noses packages both these items together in a Stuffy Nose Kit. Many moms also are fans of Ayr Baby’s saline drops, which also have the added benefit of moisturizing and soothing the fragile, chapped skin around the nostrils.
Comfort your baby with your soothing touch and the marvel that is aromatherapy. Use Little Colds Baby Rub ointment, which contains eucalyptus, rosemary and lavender, or try Earth’s Best Organic Cold Relief Vapor Ointment, which is powered by natural camphor to soothe cold symptoms so baby can sleep better. (For children younger than 2, make sure your pediatrician approves.)
If your baby has a low-grade fever or appears to be in pain, you can try Advil Infants Concentrated Drops—the 50 mg of ibuprofen will drive the discomfort away and the temperature down. Bubblegum-flavored acetaminophen from PediaCare is appropriate for newborn babies up to age 36 months and can be used to treat pain due to the common cold or flu as well as teething.
If your baby seems clingier than usual when he’s sick, that’s because he really does need more TLC than usual. Give him extra snuggles, nurse him more often if you’re breastfeeding, and hold him or wear him in a sling until he’s feeling better. And be sure to take some Emergen-C or Airborne immune support in between snuggles to try to stave off the ickies yourself!
Jorie Mark is the Creative Director of Vitacost.com and mother to three children, ages 2 to 9.