6 Tips for Making It Through Baby's First Flu or Cold

Things we’ve learned from being in the Mommy trenches during cold & flu season

Cold and flu season is upon us and unfortunately little babies are especially susceptible to getting sick, as their immune systems aren’t quite as robust as bigger kids. It can be difficult to diagnose a flu in a small baby but some telltale signs are:

  • A fever of 38 degrees Celsius or higher
  • Fatigue
  • Chills
  • Runny nose
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Muscle or head aches

If you suspect that a flu has hit your home you will want to be prepared with fluids, baby Tylenol or ibuprofen (but not aspirin unless recommend by your paediatrician), tissues or wipes and a lot of love. 

Cough & cold medicine is not recommended for children under the age of 2 and honey is not recommended for children under the age of one.

The following are a few tips we’ve learned from being in the Mommy trenches during cold & flu season.

1. Tie Your Hair Up

If you have long hair, you might find it is a good idea to make sure you pull it up and away from your face, neck and shoulders as you play nurse to your tiny patient. The reason for this is kind of gross but simple: During a long night of rubbing backs, singing lullabies and holding Baby through vomiting spells, loose hair runs the risk of getting vomit all over it. Not only is that yucky for mom but the smell will linger, possibly creating more of the same problem and you may find that you don’t have much time to jump in the shower to wash it out. Take precautions (and advice from this mom who has learned this lesson the hard way) and just tie it up.

2. Dress Baby in a Zippered or Button Up Sleeper

This is vomit-related too. If Baby gets sick all over him or herself the last thing you’ll want to do is try to wrestle a pull-over shirt covered in sick up over your child’s head. While you’re at it, grab a spare button up for yourself so that you don’t have to drag a sick covered pyjama top over your own head (see Tip 1).

3. Breastfeed As Much As Possible

If you breastfeed, continue to do so during baby’s illness. Mother’s milk is filled with the specific anti-bodies that Baby will need to fight off the virus.

Fun Fact: Whatever is going on with baby’s health is communicated to the Mother’s body through Baby’s saliva. Mama’s body “reads” the saliva via the areola and determines what anti-bodies Baby needs then serves them up.

If Baby is throwing up or has diarrhea you need to keep him or her hydrated, and breast milk is convenient, ready to go and full of goodness. It should be the first go-to for fluids. You’ll probably also find that Baby nurses more often but takes in less. This is normal and a great opportunity for enjoying some comforting snuggle time.

Watch for signs of dehydration: These include crying without tears (for babies over 3 weeks old), dry lips and a dry mouth, a decrease in the number of wet diapers, extreme fatigue and dark urine. If Baby is exhibiting these signs, it’s worth a call to the doctor.

4. Invest in a Steam Vaporizer or Cool Mist Humidifier

Either of these products will help out if Baby is very congested. Another option is to sit with him or her in an upright position in the bathroom with the shower running hot water. You can also use a bulb syringe or a product like the Nose Frida which makes clearing Baby’s nose a breeze.

5.  Elevate Baby’s Head

Encouraging rest is important for a quick recovery, but if Baby is having a hard time sleeping due to a persistent cough, try to elevate his or her head. You can do this by rolling up a towel or pillow to use as a prop, just be sure to place it underneath the crib mattress so as to avoid suffocation dangers.

6.  Rest As Much As You Can

It is really easy to forget about taking care of yourself when your baby needs you. However, you won’t be as much use to Baby if you can barely hold your own head up. Make sure that you sleep when Baby is sleeping, rest when Baby is snuggling and drink plenty of fluids and wash your hands regularly.

Caring for an infant with a flu or a nasty cold can be tough; no mother wants to see her baby suffer. Stay calm, stay vigilant and watch for signs of dehydration. Your baby will be back to normal in no time flat.