Your baby’s first cold is always heart-breaking with the baby struggling hard to breathe with a blocked and running nose. The baby will cry due to the discomfort and have difficulty while being breastfed.
Let’s understand what causes colds. These are upper respiratory tract infections of the mouth, nose and throat caused by viruses. Babies will be quite susceptible to colds as their immune systems are still developing and finding strength.
The easiest way to catch a cold is by being in the company of another person with a cold who sneezes and coughs viruses in the same air and through hand-to-hand contact with an afflicted person. It is always advised to cover one’s mouth when coughing and sneezing due to cold and maintaining strict hand-hygiene after blowing and clearing the nose.
It is likely that your baby has a common cold if you notice fever, cough, reddened eyes, sore throat, stuffy nose, runny nose, and difficulty in breastfeeding, loss of appetite, is easily irritable and restless, has trouble breathing through the nose and has swollen lymph nodes under the armpits, neck and back of the head.
As parents and caregivers, you should do your best to soothe and comfort your baby at such a time.
- Be aware that babies can’t blow their own noses. So from time to time, we should help clear the mucus that gets collected or anything stuck in the nose .Be ready to stay awake during the night to clear the stuffy nose, dab some moisturiser or petroleum jelly to reduce skin irritation and comfort them back to sleep.
- Make sure the baby gets plenty of rest and feed to stay hydrated and beat the fever if there is one. Breastfed babies recover faster thanks to the antibodies from the milk. Medications to relieve fever [on medical advice only] and nasal saline drops can be used to clear the blocked noses.
- Vapour rubs and steam may ease and relieve the process of breathing.
- No over-the-counter medicines should be given without the doctor’s permission.
- See the doctor immediately at the first sign of illness, if the baby is less than 3 months old, or the cold has not improved beyond 5 days, fever is constant and lingering, baby has trouble breathing, has a nagging cough, irritable and rubs ears which could be an ear infection or has a running nose or cough with green, yellow or brown mucus.
- Extra strict hand-hygiene of washing hands with disinfectant soap/liquid after contact with anyone with a cold is essential.
- Avoid smokers and smoking zones. Babies exposed to smoke have colds lasting longer than usual.
Worry not, it is called the common cold for a reason – the baby can have up to 8 colds by the first birthday. It is not a serious condition except for the number of tissues and sleepless nights. It is indeed a part of growing up.