When you have a toddler, I don’t think that anything is worse than flu season. The first winter that my kid was in daycare I think he honestly spent more time at home than he did in school. This meant that I had to work from home a lot – I’m very fortunate in the sense that I have a job that allows me this flexibility, a lot of parents do not and have to take days off.
Way worse than missing work is seeing my little baby sick and not being able to make the hurt go away. Aside from Tylenol and Advil for fever management, there really aren’t any medications available for kids under 2 years of age. Lucky for me, my mom is like an encyclopedia of home cold and flu remedies.
Honey and Lemon
This is only an option if your baby is over 1yr of age, and your pediatrician has said it’s safe to introduce honey into his diet.
My pediatrician actually recommended honey to soothe a sore throat the last time we went to her while my little one was sick. Adding lemon helps boost the immune system and kill unwanted bacteria. I usually do a ratio of 1 full lemon, squeezed, to ½ cup of honey. I combine the lemon juice and honey, and give my kid a table spoon 3 times a day. Works wonders to soothe the throat.
Heat on the Sinuses
When I was little and we were sick my mother used to boil an egg, and then while it was still hot, wrap it in a paper towel and apply the heat to our sinuses (so on either side of the nose). Applying heat to sinuses helps to loosen all the crap that’s congested in your nose. The reason my mom used an egg to apply heat is because it retains heat for longer than say a wet washcloth warmed up in the microwave.
When you’ve got a stubborn cough and phlegm stuck in your throat the best remedy is breathing in steam, often the easiest way to get this done for a baby is to take a hot shower with them. What we typically do is get in the shower with our son, close the door/curtain, turn the water on as hot as it will go, and sit well away from the spray. Eventually the shower steams up and you’re breathing steam. Now if you can take a snot sucker with you in there, then even better because soon his nose will start running and you definitely want to clear all that out so he doesn’t end up with it back in his nose, congested.
On the note of breathing steam, make sure your baby’s room isn’t too dry, especially during the winter months when we turn our heat on and the air tends to get dryer. I know my kid wakes up more often during a cold, especially because he’s having difficulty breathing. A vaporizer on at night can significantly soothe cough caused by dryness. I add a few drops of Eucalyptus oil to the water in mine to help open up his nasal passages. I personally prefer the cool-mist humidifier for safety reasons – I don’t want my toddler getting up at night and accidentally knocking over scalding hot water inside a warm mist vaporizer.
There are plenty of cold and cough salves out there that are safe for babies under the age of 2. They’re great to apply to the chest, bottom of the feet, neck, and my personal favourite just under the nose. They’ll help baby breathe better, and under the nose can even help soothe skin that’s become irritated from wiping too often.
Elevate Your Head
Elevating your head helps with nasal congestion, especially if lying down just increases the phlegm in your throat. Same principle applies to our littles. I got this great mattress wedge from Jolly Jumper that I just put under my son’s mattress, it creates an incline that helps him sleep better at night because the mucus from his nose isn’t dripping down the back of his throat so he can breathe easier (adorable picture to paint, I know).
If you’re against giving your little one Tylenol or Advil to manage their fever, and would rather attempt a more natural method first, there are quite a few things you can do. Less is more in terms of clothing, their body temperature is running high, so bundling them up is not a good idea – this is the perfect time to let them lie around (or run around, depending on your baby’s age) naked.
A cool wet cloth applied to forehead, neck, and cheeks can help soothe a fever as well – or if that doesn’t work then try a lukewarm bath for 20 minutes (before the water gets too cold).
Finally, there is always the vinegar trick – mixing water and vinegar and wetting your baby’s hands and feet can help to reduce fever.
Whether your baby has had a fever or not, the number one rule of a cold or the flu is to stay hydrated. Make sure your baby is getting enough fluids, whether it be water, or breast milk, etc. If you can get some warm fluids in there, then that’s even better. I try to make sure that my toddler gets some warm chicken broth. The warmth soothes the inflamed membranes that line the nose and throat, and the chicken broth gets some much-needed vitamins into him to help boost his immune system.
My munchkin is currently battling a cold, he’s been gracious enough to pass the germs along to both my husband and myself – he really took the whole “sharing is caring” mentality they’re teaching in daycare to heart. We’ll all be partaking in the above-mentioned remedies, wallowing in our own misery thank you very much. Wish me luck.