All Natural Ways To Treat Your Baby's Cold

Almost all babies get a cold before their first birthday. Does your baby have a cold? Many parents are hesitant to give their children decongestants, antihistamines, or other drugs. Here's a look at natural ways to treat your baby's sniffles and sneezes.

All of us have been inconvenienced at one time or another by the common cold. Colds aren't usually serious, but they certainly can be annoying, even for the strongest immune systems. But the common cold can be more than an annoyance for infants and their parents. The average infant has eight to ten colds before his or her second birthday, which means four to five times a year your precious little baby will suffer through the sneezes and sniffles, coughs and fever, and aches and pains that are associated with the common cold. And you, as a parent, will suffer the worries, fears, and feelings of helplessness that arise whenever your little angel isn't feeling well.

There is no cure or vaccine for the common cold, which makes catching a cold an inevitable part of growing up. Many parents prefer to use natural methods to relieve their child's cold symptoms, rather than use medications such as decongestants and expectorants. Most over-the-counter medications are unsuitable for use in very young children anyway, except for very severe symptoms, and should only be used on your doctor's recommendation, and under his or her supervision.

PREVENTION

To reduce your baby's risk of getting a cold:

*Breastfeed your baby if possible, as long as possible. Breast milk provides your baby with antibodies, which are important for fighting infection and strengthening baby's immune system.

*Wash your hands. Make sure everyone in the household washes their hands frequently. If small children are unable to wash their own hands, do it for them. Use plenty of soap and water, and dry thoroughly to prevent chapping.

*Avoid second-hand smoke, which can increase susceptibility to illness, aggravate cold symptoms, and damage lungs.

*Avoid contact with people who are sick, and wash hands thoroughly after any exposure.

CONGESTION

*Let your shower run on hot to create your own steam room. Sit in the bathroom with your baby for 10-15 minutes, three to four time a day. Do not put baby in the shower, and do not leave baby unattended in the bathroom. Be sure to keep the bathroom door closed to keep the steam in. This will help loosen baby's congestion. After you're done, you may need to wipe baby's nose, or use a bulb syringe to gently suction secretions from baby's nose.

*Saline (salt and water) nose drops are good for thick, dry nasal secretions. There are brands made specifically for infants. Tilt baby's head back and instill 2-3 drops in each nostril. The saline will loosen secretions and make them easier to blow or suction out. Saline gel, which is fairly new, is good for dry, chapped noses. Spread a little of the gel around the outside, and just inside, both nostrils.

*Keep baby in an upright or semi-upright position to encourage nasal drainage. If possible, put a pillow UNDER the head end of baby's crib mattress. NEVER put a pillow in the crib with baby.

*Use a cool mist humidifier in baby's room at night to keep the air moist. This will help prevent secretions from drying out. Use distilled or filtered water in the humidifier. Tap water will cause particle build-up in the humidifier, and will also leave a filmy dust over everything.

*Give your baby plenty of fluids to help thin secretions and prevent dehydration, especially when diarrhea is present.

CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF:

-Your baby has drainage from one or both ears, tugs at one or both ears, or complains of ear pain.



-Your baby is having trouble breathing.

COUGH

*Use a cool mist humidifier and make sure baby is drinking plenty of fluids. This helps to thin mucus and makes it easier for baby to expel secretions.

*For older babies not breastfeeding or on formula, limit dairy products for a few days. Milk and other dairy products can cause very thick mucus, which can be difficult for baby to clear.

*For children over one year, make your own cough remedy: 1 part lemon juice to 2 parts honey mixed in a small amount of warm water makes an effective, soothing drink for irritated throats.

*Keep baby's head elevated to make it easier to cough. Keep your baby sitting up as much as possible and/or put a pillow under the head of the crib mattress (NEVER on top of the mattress).

CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF:

-Your baby is coughing up thick green, bloody, or rust-colored mucus.

-Your baby develops a very sore throat that is bright red.

-Your baby's cough is severe, or lasts for more than 10 days.

-Your baby is having a very difficult time clearing secretions.

FEVER

Fever is a sign of illness and can be very serious in infants.

CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF:

-Your baby is under four months old and has a fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

-Your baby is between four months and three years old and has a fever of 101-104 degrees Fahrenheit that lasts for 24 hours, and doesn't respond to home remedies or acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). Give these medications only under the direction of your doctor.

*For mild fever, try sponging your baby with warm water, or giving baby a cool bath.

*A cool (not cold) washcloth on the forehead or back of baby's neck helps to cool and soothe. Be careful not to over-chill baby while attempting to bring baby's fever down.

CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF:

-Fever is accompanied by:

*vomiting

*stiff neck

*rash

*difficulty breathing

*confusion

ACHES AND PAINS

Body aches and pains are common during a cold. A nice warm bath followed by a gentle all-over body massage can help soothe an achy little body. This is also an excellent technique to relax baby, sick or not. For baby's massage, use soft, light touches. Using baby oil or lotion for the massage works very well. The bottle of oil or lotion can be gently heated in a cup of hot water before the massage.

CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF:

-Your baby seems to have a great deal of pain, especially in the abdominal area.

Colds are an inevitable, unavoidable part of childhood. Natural remedies and techniques can help your baby get through his or her cold with a minimum of discomfort while avoiding the side effects associated with decongestants and over-the-counter cold medicines.

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