Colds are extremely common, especially in babies and young children who’ll suffer an average of five to ten colds a year. While sleeping and feeding can be difficult times on any given day, when your baby has a cold it can be truly challenging for both you and baby.
We all know a cold is not much fun and when your baby has one, you’ll certainly know that he or she isn’t having much fun either.
Common symptoms include a blocked or runny nose, sneezing, reduced appetite, irritability and trouble sleeping and these symptoms will last around 10 days.
Your baby may have a slight fever but shouldn’t have shaking chills, aches and pains, lethargy and headaches, though – these are more characteristic of the flu.
A blocked nose and reduced appetite add up to feeding time mayhem. However, it’s important to stay hydrated during a cold, so offer baby more breast feeds or bottles and, if they are old enough, offer drinks of boiled water in between feeds. Good hydration not only helps recovery but can loosen the congestion that is adding to the feeding difficulties.
If your baby is on solid food, smaller, frequent feeds are the order of the day during a bout of the cold.
Other ways to help ease congestion include inhaling steam from a shower and using paediatric saline or nasal drops. If you need to use the drops for more than a couple of days, see your doctor. Bulb suction can also be used for infants.
Although your baby may be fussy, extra sleep will help with recovery. Offer plenty of cuddles and reassurance at sleep times to help with settling. Some parents also use a vaporiser in the room at night, which can help ease congestion.
Don’t be surprised, though, if you’re all getting less sleep – colds can definitely interfere with baby’s sleep pattern, which means the rest of the family is also likely to be getting less sleep.
Although it’s difficult, try to stay on top of your own healthy eating and sleep habits during these rough patches. And rest assured that baby’s own immune system is battling the cold, and your efforts to keep the feeding and sleep cycle on track during this time are also helping.
Of course, if your baby shows any of the symptoms below, you should seek medical attention straight away:
And if you’re simply worried, you can always visit a doctor for reassurance.
Take it one feed and sleep at a time, and soon enough the cold will lift and everyone will be happier.