Cough & Colds Survival Guide


3 weeks ago a work colleague and a good friend of mine gave birth to her first child. This week her daughter developed a terrible cold which led her to seek the help and support of her friends via Facebook. Naturally, I replied with some suggestions but, her plea reminded me how I felt when my son caught a cold and developed viral conjunctivitis at approximately the same age – I was distraught and at a loss as what to do,.. as every potion or lotion that you can buy over the counter is for three months plus. Looking back now, my husband & I wished we knew what we know now about how to treat babies and toddlers who have developed a cough and/or cold. At risk of patronising those that already know and those that are perhaps first time parents here are some of things that we do and have done to ease our two little ones discomfort.

Firstly, there is very little that a newborn baby can be given for a cold or a cough unfortunately but, if you are breast feeding then your baby may well recover much quicker due to the antibodies that you produce, which are then transported to your baby via breast milk – my daughter has certainly recovered more quickly from colds than my son who was mix fed. If your child is 2 months or over, weigh more than 4 kg and are not premature they can be given Calpol, Nurofen cannot be given until your child is 3 months plus.

2. Place them in the bathroom perhaps in a bouncer chair, when you have a shower the steam will help to clear their airways.

3. Vicks VapoRub is now only recommended from the age of two years – I remember my parents smothering my sisters and I in it whenever we had a cold when we were much younger! I have always used a very small dab of this on the chest, back and soles of the feet. However, there are rubs that Boots and Snuffle Baby sell that can be used on younger children. If you are breast feeding a small amount can be rubbed onto your chest – out of reach of the child – and this will help the child to breathe whilst feeding.

4. I also place a drop of Children’s Olbas Oil on a tissue and place this (out of reach) in their cots or a small amount can be placed either on a wet wipe or a flannel and placed upon the radiator – this will infuse the air the room – making it much easier for your child to breathe. A word of warning again this is quite potent stuff so use it sparingly  – it is recommended for use from the age of 3 months plus however, again I have used it with a younger child but, very little of it.

5. Calpol also produce a nasal spray is much easier to administer to very small babies than nasal drops. This must be sprayed into the nose whilst the child is up right and be careful to do so gently so as not to scare them! We usually do this before a feed and whenever our children seem abit bunged and snuffly.

6. Prop up child at night either using a rolled up blanket or towel under the crib or cot mattress  – this may help some what. Or place them on their side to sleep placing a wedge behind them to prevent them from rolling onto their back. For babies there is something called a ” side sleep positioner” which is can be used for several purposes such as Plagiocephaly as well as helping a baby who is struggling to breathing due to a cold. We used our son’s reflux wedge and a bump/back support wedge that I had bought when I was pregnant with J to help relieve back pain. If you place a baby on their side, they must be monitored.

7. Invest in an cool mist humidifier. Very recently, during the time of our “black death” experience a friend of mine suggested a humidifier to help those with colds and coughs breathe more clearly. Some people say that these are a must, I have however, only just invested in one of these and they certainly do increase the moisture in the air especially, when the heating has been on for two hours or so in the evening. We have just purchased the Prem-I-Air Mini Ultrasonic Humidifier from Amazon UK for £25.90 which contains a reservoir for essential oils, olbas oil etc. however, please note that when I used this item for the first time, I did add two drop of olbas oil to this reservoir but, I did not smell this as the humidifier was working – perhaps I needed to add more olbas oil. Vicks also produce their own warm and cool mist humidifiers which are slightly more expensive.

9. Invest in an accurate and reliable thermometer! On giving birth to J, we bough a hair and nail care grooming kit – by Tommee Tippee. This kit included a digital thermometer which could be used in the mouth or under the arm. If you have ever tried to place a thermometer in either of these places on a child – never mind about an ill child – you will understand why investing in a decent, digital thermometer is important! We eventuall invested in a Braun Thermoscan which is also used by our G.P and the nursery that J attends. It comes with a small pack of lens filters however, these can be purchased quite easily from Amazon etc.

10. If you have a toddler who has an awful cough, which is keeping them awake at night they can be given 2.5 mls of honey to help soothe their throat. If you have to give them cough mixture give them sugar free Calcough however, we discovered that our son liked the taste of honey much more than Calcough and there was no battle in trying to give it to him! We have given our son Rowse’ Mild Honey which he loves.

11. Keep the child well hydrated. Your child’s appetite is likely to be affected when ill – do not worry. Making sure that they keep their fluid intake up is far more important than eating during an illness – offer your child sips of water, milk etc. regularly as this will reduce their fever –  do not wait for them to ask you. Offer breast fed babies extra feeds.

12. Add a little Vasoline or Lansinoh to a child’s or baby’s nose as it may become sore from being wiped frequently.

If you are concerned or ever in doubt see your G.P, contact the out of hours service or ring emergency department at your local hospital especially, if a baby less than six months old has a high temperature which of 38 degrees or a temperature of 39 degrees or over in a baby older than three months requires medical attention. If any child has a high temperature of 38-39 degrees plus, other worrying symptoms seek the advice of a medical professional.

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