parenting · toddler life · wellness


Below, some simple ideas for what to do when your little babe comes down with a cold…

It always seems like whenever significant shifts in weather patterns occur, our immune systems get all confused and disoriented.  A nor’easter blows through and suddenly your little one’s nose is a leaky spigot.

I’m no expert on colds, but the straight truth is that there is no magic fix or cure.  The other truth is that no matter how careful you are, your child will get sick occasionally.  Preventative measures are wonderful, of course–hand washing and steering clear of other families when their kids are sick, but you have to live life.  I try to think of colds as the body’s way of telling us to slow down and rest.  Maybe we weren’t listening closely enough, so our bodies have to really hammer it home.  

Felix is currently in the throes of the third cold of his life.  Three colds in about 17 months…I actually have no idea if that number is good or bad, but I’m guessing it is pretty average.  Here are some items and ideas I use:

Felix is giving Oscar the Grouch some saline spray…makes sense!

Saline Spray. Babies and young toddlers aren’t able to blow their noses on command, but infection can occur when discharge is continually sniffled back up the nose.  A few swift shots of saline can hydrate, cleanse and sometimes even trigger a really good sneeze.  Saline drops work better for tiny babies, and we used to rely on the NoseFrida to clear Felix’s nasal passages when he was younger.  Now that he’s older, it has become part of our routine to use saline before bed (and more frequently when he is actually sick).  Our apartment is terribly dry, so this has helped a lot.  If your instinct is to skip this because your child reacted violently to your efforts, take heart! Felix also acted like I was slicing off his toe.  I began pretending to give myself the saline first, and used funny faces.  He loved that, and very quickly stopped fearing or resisting.  Now he actually will bring me the can if he wants some. (Weird, I know…!)

Humidifiers.  Dry air can add to the discomfort brought on by a cold.  We already had a large humidifier for the open space we all sleep in, but when I added a little Vicks humidifier closer to Felix’s sleep area, it seemed to make a real difference for him.  I believe humidity levels should not exceed 60 or so, and that’s the level we aim for.  Without a humidifier, our home’s level is somewhere around 30.

Mattress Propping.  Last night, Felix slept deeply from 9:00pm until a little after midnight without even rolling over.  This is rare for my boy!  I think the propped mattress really helps with a stuffy nose.  It isn’t a miracle worker, but nothing is in the world of cold cures.  I just folded a few spare blankies beneath his mattress.

Salve.  Before bed, I like to rub some salve on Felix’s chest.  There are loads of kinds out there, we just use the Vicks Baby Rub.  I like the ones that use herbs or naturally calming scents, too.

Drinking coffee while nursing my son.

Liquids.  We all know that drinking more liquids can help our body fight a cold.  It is important for us as parents to remember to push liquids when our kids are sick.  I have only been nursing Felix when he requests it, but while he is sick I try to make sure he has milk more frequently.

Get that mug of coffee ready, and remember how loved you are!

Coffee For Mama (and Dada!).  Having a sick kid just stinks, bottom line.  I run better if I take a moment to accept and acknowledge that for a few days, my sleep will be even more compromised.  I get a game plan for how I will tackle those rough hours, and then I throw said game plan away when at 1:00am, the cozy armchair I planned for us to sleep in becomes an exciting spot for my kid to view the intensely bright moon.  Coffee.  Coffee and more coffee!  I am a firm believer in night time parenting, and I think it is important to be there for my child when he is having trouble sleeping.  This doesn’t mean I can’t lay down the law a bit…if he is well and truly up and wanting to hum the Sesame Street theme in my ear after I’ve been tending to him for a good while, I will probably issue a harshly whispered “GO TO SLEEP!”  It even works, sometimes…

I share these small tips just to maybe help another parent out there.  As our seasons slowly shift, colds are bound to enter into our homes.  I would love to hear anything you’ve found helpful when tending to a small child’s cold!   


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