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What to Do When Your Baby Has a Cold

New mother/mom/postpartum doula taking care of newborn baby with a cold.
Me with my newborn :)

As a new parent, any sign of sickness in your newborn can be stressful and scary. With the unimaginable love you have for your child, any threat to their health can cause your emotions to run wild. Being unable to communicate with the child directly to understand what they are experiencing makes it even more stressful. As a mother in 2020, I intimately know the struggle that new parents experience when they are holding a sick baby and trying to help them in any way possible.

I remember when my daughter had her first cold. I was a mess! I felt so helpless and super frustrated because I could not make her feel better. Was she too cold? Too hot? She was so congested, I used to stay up at night to make sure she was breathing. She could barely drink her milk because each time she tried to suck from her bottle she had to hold her breath.

With new and inexperienced immune systems, babies often catch a common cold, and most of the time, it is nothing to worry about. Babies have been known to get as many as eight colds their first year of life.

Following these steps will help you stay calm and help your baby recover when they catch their first, second, or even tenth cold. Remember, the most important thing is to keep the baby comfortable.

Fluids, fluids, and more fluids

Our babies are like adults in more ways than we realize. Just like a sick adult needs to keep hydrated with fluids, a sick baby needs the same. Of course, it’s a little more challenging that your little one can’t drink on their own yet. If your baby has a cold, offer breast milk and formula as much as possible. Breastmilk provides extra protection for a baby’s immune system, which can help them in the present and the future.

Combat the sniffles

When we have colds, we blow our noses to clear our sinuses. Babies, of course, cannot blow their noses, so many parents struggle to find a solution to help their children with the sniffles. For a baby’s runny nose, you can utilize saline nose drops to thin out mucus, which makes it easier to remove. Run a cold air humidifier to keep your baby’s nose from drying out. You can also use a suction bulb to remove mucus from your baby’s nose. Lastly, find the smallest bathroom you have with a tub/shower. Run the water on the hottest setting. Shut the door and if possible, strip your baby down to a onesie or diaper so they don’t run hot. Sit in the bathroom and hold baby upright for as long as you and baby can stand it. This was my go-to remedy. Water is so calming, and we both enjoyed being in the steam.

Rest together

It will probably be challenging to get your baby to rest comfortably when they are suffering from a cold, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Rest is important for a human’s recovery, regardless of age. A warm bath with a parent, calming music, and a relaxing environment will encourage that necessary rest for even the fussiest newborn.

Only use medicine with direction

Cold medicine is tempting because it’s so effective at curing our adult colds, but it shouldn’t be your first line of defense in the case of your baby especially if your baby is less than 3 months old. Only give medications that are suggested by your pediatrician.

When is it time to seek help?

Sometimes, a cold can escalate to the point where you need to take your baby in for medical attention. If your baby is seriously struggling to breath call 911. See a doctor if your baby is wheezing, having trouble swallowing, or has a fever over 104 degrees.

Once you’re through that first cold, you’ll be ready for the next one and be there as a resource to help other parents with the first case of the sniffles.

Disclaimer: This material is for general information purposes only and is not to be interpreted as medical advice in any way! You should always communicate with and discuss care and the choice you are considering with your medical care provider before choosing to pursue or not pursue any course of action.

Here at Doudoukare Perinatal Services, we offer support and consultations for new parents while specializing in doula services in Central Massachusetts. Reach out to us to find out how we can support your journey.


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