By Kate Tietje, Lead Writer
Contributing Writer: Rustina
I remember when my kids had their first colds! They were not too thrilled. It’s so sad and hard when tiny ones are sick, because there’s not much you can do to help them.
Or is there?
It’s true that you should not give any sort of cold medicine to such young babies (nor, in my opinion, ever, if we are talking about OTC drugs). But there are other ways you can ease the baby’s misery and help everyone feel better fast.
How to Help Young Babies
(Almost) All of these suggestions can work — some with minor modifications — with older children and adults, too.
1. Breastfeed Often
Breastmilk is pretty awesome. Every time your baby breastfeeds, s/he will transfer the germs currently making him/her sick to you through the skin, and your body will produce antibodies specific to the illness and transfer them to the baby via your milk. This helps the baby fight the infection. Breastmilk also helps to break up the mucus – so it can help clear baby’s throat.
If you have time to pump during your little one’s illness, you can label the breastmilk with the illness or symptoms to help use next time you notice an illness starting!
2. Breastmilk in the Nose
You can use saline for older people, but breastmilk is best. It’s the gentlest on babies, and it can help to break up the mucus. In some cases, you may not even need to suction the baby. It may simply break up the congestion and baby will swallow the whole mess, breathing better. Baby won’t like this, but it’s better than continuing to struggle to breathe or getting suctioned! (Though, suction if needed!)
Don’t buy the store-bought ones. Make your own at home and spread it on baby’s feet. It’s much safer and it can help baby to breathe better. If you are low on time or don’t have the ingredients, check out Earthley’s Breathe Well.
4. Take a Warm Bath
Put the baby into a warm baby bath tub, or take a warm bath with your baby. Put a few drops of rosemary and/or eucalyptus essential oil to ease congestion, and/or lavender for relaxation. Be sure to read about How to Use Essential Oils Safely in Children under 1 to learn how to use EOs in a bath without burning their delicate skin!
5. Cod Liver Oil
If your baby is on formula or is older, give it directly to the baby. If your baby is exclusively breastfed, you should take a larger dose and it will get to the baby through you. Cod Liver Oil is a huge immune booster. If you prefer to use apply it topically, there is Vitamin D Cream available as well.
6. Essential Oils on Clothes
When Jacob had a really hard time (even minor congestion, especially if it’s in his throat, seems to really bother him), I put 1 drop of each rosemary and eucalyptus essential oils on the front of his clothes, then snuggle him, nurse if he will, and he usually settled down, falling asleep pretty quickly. For older kids, I usually put a couple drops of each on their pillows at night.
Babies with a cough will benefit from a warm mist humidifier to keep the air moist and reduce coughing. You can also let the bathroom fill with steam. And of course, extra breastfeeding helps the mucous membranes from drying out, too. 🙂
Keep baby close to you, wear your baby in a wrap or other carrier so you can keep your hands free and still get stuff done. Babies usually breathe better and are calmer when they are held closely anyway, and they often sleep a lot, which is good when they are sick!
There are lots of ways you can help even tiny babies to feel better! It’s nice to know that there is something you can do when your baby isn’t feeling his or her best.
There are many more herbal remedies for the family in The Ultimate Collection of Natural Remedies.
Disclaimer: This post is not intended as medical advice. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and nothing in this post is intended to diagnose, treat, or cure anything. If you have questions, please do your own research or seek advice from a health professional.