7 Ways to Survive Your Baby's First Cold

baby noseIt's become frighteningly clear to me that making comments like, "My babies have never been sick," as I did in my last blog post on formula-feeding, are surefire ways to tempt fate and get a swift karmic kick in the ass. Yep, just a few days later, my 8-month-old boys got sick with fevers and colds, the works. (With that in mind, I should mention that I've never won the lottery. No big jackpot here, nope, never, not me.)

Anyway, while I thought I was pretty well prepared for my babies to get sick -- you know, armed with the infant care kit I got when I was still pregnant -- I really wasn't. Our medicine cabinet was lacking, my general knowledge was lacking, and I emotionally was not at all ready to watch my babies cry and snarf and sneeze their way through their first real colds. It taught me a few things, that's for sure...



If your babies have already gotten sick, then this is all probably old, obvious information to you. But for those of you who have yet to deal with your first whimpering sniffles, here's what I learned:

  1. Know the right medicine dosage: As soon as my little guy's fever spiked, I called the pediatrician to find out what I should do. Since it was early afternoon, I was able to reach him and find out what medicine to give, how often, what amount, and other ways to bring my baby's fever down. Had his 103 temp hit in the middle of the night though, I wouldn't have been totally confident about how much medicine to give him, if I even should, if I needed to keep him warm or cool. And, yes, although I do write for the Internet, I refuse to rely on it as a medical source. Since a baby's fever tends to spike in the late afternoon and evening, you may not be able to reach your doctor right away. So, it seems to me that the safest bet is to keep acetaminophen on hand and ibuprofen (if your baby is over 6 months), and get a dosing chart or guidance from your doctor when your baby is still well. Our doctor believes it's best to treat a baby's fever, but many pediatricians think if it's under a certain degree, you should let the fever run its course. It's good to know ahead of time where your doctor stands on that, and gauge your own feelings about it when you're not holding your poor, sick, miserable baby in your arms.
  2. Have a reliable thermometer on hand: When I could feel the heat coming off of my poor boy's cheeks and forehead, I grabbed the digital thermometer from aforementioned infant care kit. What a piece of crap! The numbers were all over the place, my guy would not hold still as I tried to stick it under his arm, and it turned out, with the underarm reading, I had to assume his temperature was a whole degree higher. Yes, I could have gone the, er, rectal route, but if the little guy wouldn't let that thing under his arm, then how was I going to get it up his butt? Besides, the damn thing was jumping around with every reading. Screw that, my baby was burning up. So I went out to the drugstore and spent $30 on one of those ear thermometers which gave me an instant reading, without all the squirming. Of course, it was so cool, I then became obsessed with it and was taking their temperature like every hour.
  3. Keep a cool mist humidifier clean and ready: We've had one since the little guys were born, but ours had been in the closet since before Christmas. So the filter was nasty, the inside needed a good cleaning -- it just wasn't ready for use. So, in the midst of my little guys shnookling and crying, I was replacing the filter and giving that thing a thorough scrubbing. It definitely is a lifesaver during the night when they're most miserable and congested.
  4. Try the Nose Frida: When my babies were about four months old, teething had them all mucuousy and stuffed up, so I tried the Nose Frida to clear them up. Basically, it's a tube with a filter that allows you to literally suck the snot out of your baby's nose. Yes, you do gross things for love. Unfortunately, these days, my little guys won't let me near their nostrils with that thing, but it works twenty times better than those nasal aspirators they might have given you at the hospital. So, I highly recommend at least giving it a try. If your baby will sit still, it's totally gratifying. If he won't, you can at least try to suck out some snot on the fly. I keep trying to pull fast ones on my guys -- something is better than nothing.
  5. Keep your baby hydrated: Fever or no fever, your baby may not want the breast, the bottle, or food. But, it's important that they at least get the milk they need to stay hydrated and nourished. When my guys weren't finishing their bottles, I'd wait a bit, and then offer them more later. Small doses seemed to do the trick.
  6. When all else fails, give your baby a bath: There were a couple of days there where both boys were just so uncomfortable and miserable, crying and wailing and both needing to be held. Unfortunately, I'm one Mommy with two babies, and in their sicky state, they didn't feel like sharing me. Not fun, people, not fun! Finally, I decided to put them in the one place (aside from Mommy's arms) that I know makes them happy: the bath! When they were feverish, I kept the bath water tepid and sponged them with the cooling water. But, when their fevers were gone and they were just all bummed out and shnookly, I'd first let the hot water run for a little bit beforehand to get a good steam going in the bathroom. Then, I'd get the water to a comfortable temperature, and put my little guys in. Seriously, it was a miracle! They went from sad little guys to baby mermen, splashing all around. And the high lasted for a good hour or so after -- sweet!
  7. Be prepared to be a bigger wussy than your babies. You think a cold is no big deal, and maybe can handle illness just fine when you're the sick one. But when your baby looks at you with his big, watery, sad, red eyes, and snot is coming out of his nose and he's rubbing his little fists furiously against his nose, with that face like, "Mommy, what's haaaaaaaappening?!" you can actually physically feel your heart breaking. No joke, I've had chest pains for almost two weeks. And, I think I've cried more in the last few days than they have. Hey, at least I didn't cry in front of them, right? Regardless, it's clear I need to buck up because this is certainly not the last time they're going to get sick, and we're going to likely see much worse than this. But, as my friends with older kids tell me, it's never, ever easy watching your little ones sick, no matter how old they are, whether it's their first cold or their 100th. So, I survived this rite of passage, a little tougher and better prepared for when the next cold or fever or flu hits.

What's your best advice for when your baby gets sick?


baby health


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MeAnd... MeAndTommyLee

Don't freak out!!!!  I did.  My first baby got sick for the first time at 14 months old with an upper resp. infection.  I was beside myself as she languished in her crib like a little rag doll!  I called my late mother, my friends with kids, practically called a townhall meeting.  Then I noticed with my tender loving care (and sitting next to the crib watching her day and night), the doctors prescription, a humidifier and carefully administered tylenol my little girl recovered.  The terror was over.  The kisses and hugs started again.  Her appetite returned and she wanted to PLAY.  I was so happy I cried and asked my mother to watch her for a few hours and I crashed into bed and slept.

Stacey. Stacey.

My daughter just turned one and still has not been sick. I am however dreading sending her to daycare, because I know sickness is inevitable.

prplecat prplecat

If you can't reach the pediatrician, call the pharmacist at the nearest 24-hour pharmacy.  Even if you're not coming in to buy, they will give reliable info on meds & dosages.

Todd Vrancic

I get what you mean.  My middle daughter is severely asthmatic and was hospitalized a few times for breathing issues and tests.  The universe did not listen to me when I offered to take her place, and I would have in a heartbeat if I could have.

nonmember avatar Nicole

I absolutely love the nose frida! The bulb would always irritate him and sometimes make him bleed which is worse. None of the snot ever touches you, it's really not gross at all and works wonders.

I also loved when I breastfed and my son got sick...nursing him seemed like a cure all, in the he was soothed by me, getting hydrated, and getting antibodies from me. It only sucked when he was too stuffed up to do so well.

Never used a humidifier, just hot showers and an incline, and very rarely use fever medication. I also believe you should let a fever run it's course, and also if you give a low grade fever medicine, you will not be able to tell if the fever is actually getting worse and emergency room worthy.

Torto... Tortoise77

my son hasnt been sick since he was born with the cold. He had a fever once and diarrhea twice but nothing serious or lengthy. He is 15 months old and I am still waiting for him to get sick. The more I wait it makes me think that when he does get sick its gonna be BAD! : / I take all precautions to avoid it but I know one of these days he'll catch a cold and I dont feel prepared at all! : (

Water... Water_geM

ive already surved colds..at month anda  half,my twins were hospitalised with rsv.

aplus6 aplus6

Being on baby #6 I have survived many colds which really do seem to be harder on me then them. The things that were really life savers for me were the thermometer you run across the forehead, extra long baths, a good humidifier and some baby vick's vapor rub.

Kmakk... Kmakksmom

Don't freak out.  And remember...a cold usually lasts 7 days or a week, whichever is longer.  **My mom has always said that to me.  It's basically saying that a cold lasts that long**

nonmember avatar Sarah

This is a great post. I too love the nonosefrida and found warm baths really helped. My baby is five months and a quarter teaspoon of baby Advil also helped a lot to calm her down. It is heartbreaking because they have no idea why they can't breathe. I do think the humidifier helps too. Thanks for the encouragement!!

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