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How to Treat Colds in Babies and Newborns

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Tips and tricks for how to treat colds in babies and newborns. Natural baby cold remedies and everything you need to know for surviving your baby’s first cold.

It’s inevitable that every baby will eventually get their first cold. When your baby does get their first cold you might feel worried, helpless, or not know what to do.

Our son was in daycare and started there during the fall. He got his first cold shortly after he started and he was sick every few weeks after that. My second son didn’t catch his first cold until he was almost a year old (partly because he wasn’t attending daycare, and partly luck!).

Your baby’s first cold could mean a stuffy or runny noise, fever, cough, or just overall bad feeling as their little bodies battle their first cold virus. Make sure to give lots of extra cuddles, extra sleep, and extra fluids if possible to help them get over their first sickness. There are also a few tools and medications that you can give your little one to help ease their cold symptoms or clear their airways.

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Baby Cold Medications

Unfortunately, there are not many prescription or over the counter medications you can give to your baby to help with their cold. Babies should not be given decongestants or other common cold medicines like older children or adults.

Always consult with your doctor to get their opinion and the most up-to-date information, but in general your best and only option is to treat your baby’s cold with more natural remedies.

For fevers, generally acetaminophen can be used after 2 months of age and ibuprofen only after 6 months of age.

How to Treat Colds in Babies

The below tools and natural remedies will help you treat your baby’s cold, clear their airways, and make them feel more comfortable during the duration of their cold.

Baby Cold Tip #1: Give Extra Fluids

Your baby may not want to feed as often when they are sick, but it’s important to encourage fluids to avoid dehydration. They may need extra feedings if they are not eating much at one time, and after 6 months you can gives sips of water to encourage staying well-hydrated as well. Avoid juice unless over 12 months or recommended by your doctor.

Baby Cold Remedy #2: Use a Steam Room (Steam Shower)

To help relieve some of your baby’s congestion, bring them into a steam room (run the shower in your bathroom for a few minutes until it steams up). This will help loosen mucus and help drain their sinuses, plus the warm moist air will help soothe their airways and help them feel more relaxed.

This can be great any time of the day, but especially overnight if your baby is having a hard time sleeping.

How to Treat Colds in Babies #3: Use Saline Mist

Mommy’s Bliss Saline Drops/Spray

Another way to help loosen mucus is by using saline drops or spray. Choose a saline that can be used as both drops and spray and use to your baby’s preference or transition as they get old. Drops are normally good for newborns (hold the bottle upside down and gently squeeze into your baby’s nose) or hold the bottle upright and firmly squeeze to spray saline mist.

Saline spray will help soothe, clean, and moisturize your baby’s nasal passages and can help break up mucus. Choose a brand (like Mommy’s Bliss Saline Drops/Spray) that is non-medicated to use on newborns and young babies.

Baby Cold Tip #4: Get a Nasal Aspirator

NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator

Babies cannot blow their nose to get rid of mucus (that likely wont come later until the toddler or preschool years). You can help ease some of your baby’s congestion by clearing their nose with a nasal aspirator.

After you take your baby in a steam room or use saline mist, use a nasal aspirator to help remove some of the mucus. You will likely want to do the above two steps if you can to make this process easier. We love the NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator because it sits outside of your baby’s nose (unlike some bulb versions), it comes with disposable filters, and its extremely easy to clean.

Baby Cold Tip #5: Use a Cool Mist Humidifier

Fridababy 3-in-1 Humidifier

Get a cool mist humidifier for your baby’s room and run it during all naps and overnight. A humidifier can help loosen mucus, clear congestion, relieve coughs, and soothe dry airways or dry skin.

It can be especially helpful during the winter months when air is especially dry. Always use a cool-mist humidifier for babies and young children, as a warm-mist one can be a safety hazard.

Tips for Babies First Cold #6: Saline Wipes

Unscented Boogie Wipes

Babies tend to have gentle and sensitive skin and normal tissues can cause further irritation to your little one’s nose. We love saline wipes to wipe off dried snot or boogers that come along with your baby’s first cold. During cold season I love to keep these in our diaper bag and keep a pack near our diaper changing station as well.

Baby Cold Tip #7: Have a Thermometer

Braun Digital Ear Thermometer

FridaBaby Quick-Read Digital Rectal Thermometer

Keep a thermometer on hand so that you can take your baby’s temperature and check for fevers. A rectal thermometer is the most accurate for taking your baby’s temperature, but with an unhappy baby we often opt for our digital ear thermometer. Contact your baby’s doctor if you are concerned or especially if their fever is over 103 degrees F.

Always consult with your doctor to get their opinion and the most up-to-date information. Acetaminophen can generally be used after 2 months of age and ibuprofen only after 6 months of age to help reduce fevers.

Sick Baby Tip #8: Use a Baby Medicine Dispenser

MediFrida Medicine Dispenser

If you do need to dispense liquid medication to your baby, keep this on hand to make it so much easier! It’s like a pacifier but there is a hole for a syringe to insert the medicine. Your baby hardly knows what is going on.

Baby Sick Tip #9: Ditch The Schedule

Finally, when your baby is sick, if you are currently following a daily schedule be prepared to throw the schedule out the window. Your baby will likely want to sleep more and may not be able to stay awake for their normal lengths of time.

Even if they normally thrive on a schedule, be extra lenient when they are sick and give extra sleep opportunities and snuggles to help them feel better.

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Summary of Baby Sick Tips

Here is a quick breakdown of our 9 tips for how to treat colds in babies and newborns:

  1. Give extra fluids
  2. Use a steam room
  3. Use saline mist
  4. Get a nasal aspirator
  5. Utilize a cool mist humidifer
  6. Use saline wipes
  7. Have a thermometer
  8. Use a baby medicine dispenser
  9. Ditch the schedule

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