When the colder weather hits, it’s normal for your baby to catch their first cold. Here’s how to help your little one get better soon.
Although your baby is born with some of your immunity to illness, they’re not completely protected against viruses that cause infections. So, when your baby gets ill, it can be difficult to tell if it is a common cold or something more serious. But don’t worry, it’s easy to figure out once you know the signs.
Colds are infections of the mouth, nose and throat, and are usually spread when someone with a cold sneezes or coughs, releasing a virus into the air that is then inhaled by whoever is around. Babies tend to get a lot of colds because their immune systems are still developing.
‘On average, a child under seven years gets seven to 10 colds per year, each lasting one to two weeks,’ says Sister Lilian, Parenting and Pampers® Institute Expert.
If your baby has a common cold, they may have:
- a cough
- a sore throat
- a stuffy, runny nose
- a loss of appetite
- irritability and restlessness
- swollen lymph nodes (feel under the armpits, on the neck and the back of the head)
- difficulty breathing through the nose
Treat it at home
A cold takes about three to four days to clear. As a mom, it may seem too long and your natural instinct is to want to try anything to give your little one relief. However, experts agree that most over-the-counter medicines are not safe or effective. Do this instead:
- Clear out the mucus. Try saline (salt water) drops, which you can find at your chemist or clinic. Make your own solution by mixing a pinch of salt (no more than ¼ teaspoon) with a cup of boiled water. Let it cool. Then, take a plastic eyedropper and squirt about two drops into your baby’s nostrils. Use a facecloth to remove any mucus.
- Keep your baby’s head slightly raised while sleeping.
- Reduce mucus-producing foods like dairy. Rather give your baby water and/or rooibos tea.
- Continue breast-feeding and give lots of love and attention to your little one – this is the basis of happiness and leads to strong immunity.
Take your baby to the clinic or a doctor if they have trouble breathing, or a fever of 38°C or more, or cannot keep foods or liquids down.
Influenza, commonly known as flu, is very contagious, takes about a week to pass and fever is more likely.
It’s easy to confuse flu with a cold because they share the same symptoms. However, flu is a lot more serious than a cold because it may lead to another serious illness, like bronchitis or pneumonia, if left untreated. Sister Lilian advises you take baby to the clinic if they have the following symptoms:
- not responding to any of the self-help tips
- a nasty cough
- difficulty breathing
- temperature or fever of 38.5°C
- a purple skin rash
- not drinking enough fluids
- diarrhoea – a watery bowel movement every one to two hours for more than eight hours
- very sleepy or tired
- if your gut tells you your baby has more than the common cold.
Read more: All about jaundice
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