As you can probably imagine based on my last post, I’ve been doing some research on babies and colds over the past few days. What I’ve found hasn’t really been all that surprising – THERE IS NO CURE. Well, as someone who gets 5 or 6 colds a year, I could have told you that. I did learn a few things however. When I get sick, I generally progress through the following steps over the course of a week or ten days:

1. Think to myself that my throat is sore.
2. Whine to my wife that I am getting sick.
3. Act like a baby for one day at the peak of the cold.
4. Return to the real world with boxes of DayQuil/NyQuil Value Packs (or Tylenol Cold & Sinus!)
5. Gradually get better and then forget I was ever sick.

It has become obvious that Nick isn’t able to follow most of these steps, what with him not being able to talk and everything. So more had to be done.

First, what is the common cold? An infection of your upper respiratory tract. Colds are spread by a wide variety of viruses, and you generally become immune to that virus after beating a cold. Since the viruses are constantly mutating however, it doesn’t really matter, as the same cold virus will never hit you a second time. The common cold is spread by contact, especially by objects such as door handles, telephones, and especially for kids – toys. Once you get the virus on your hands and touch your eyes, ears, mouth, or nose, you have been exposed to the virus, and you get sick. As kids play together, with their runny noses and uncovered coughs, colds are passed around a lot. According to Mayoclinic.com it is not uncommon for kids to get as many as 10 colds in a year – yikes. You can help prevent the spread of colds by washing the child’s hands and toys regularly, especially if he or she has recently had a playdate.

How To Treat The Cold
As I mentioned above, there is no cure. That means there is no medicine that will make the cold go away, or go away faster, so you really are limited to treating the symptoms. There have been many recent studies involving children and cold medicines, and they show that medications aren’t effective in young children, and they often overdose the child which, well isn’t good. Follow these steps instead:

First – Take your child’s temperature regularly, and monitor it often.

Second – Call your Doctor with this information. Even if your child doesn’t seem to be having a fever, call your GP or Pediatrician and let them know the age and weight and details of your child and ask for recommendations. Colds can rapidly turn into ear infections in children, and babies are so small it is never worth taking a chance.

Third – keep wiping their noses regularly. If the mucus is free flowing, it will be easy to remember to do this. Nick starts flailing around as soon as he sees a Kleenex come towards his face, and he usually ends up burying his face in my shoulder, wiping the snot all over my shirt. Mission accomplished. I wipe up my shirt and move on. If the nose is kind of dry and crusty, saline drops are available to help break up the mucus. You can then get a suction bulb to suck up the boogers. My success with the suction bulb is similiar to my success with the Kleenex, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Interestingly, our Doctor wasn’t big on the suction bulb, she suggested that it (the snot) will all come out in the end, and to not worry about it. She also said it does no harm. Most webpages and books seem to like the suction bulb, and you probably have one anyway, so use your parental intuition or your own Doctor’s advice.

Fourth – Keep the baby well hydrated and fed. Because babies are so small they dehydrate really quickly, and it is important to keep fluids in them. Nick really lost his appetite for a day or so, but he really kept sucking back liquids. His appetite returned, and now all is well.

Fifth – Run a vaporizer. If you have one, these things are great for everybody in the family. They moisten the air which helps to clear out the sinuses. If you don’t have one, you can sit in the bathroom (on the floor or on the toilet) while running hot water in the shower. The steam generated by the shower can do the same thing. Don’t actually get in the shower with your baby.

NEVER – apply menthol, campor, peppermint, or any product with these ingredients anywhere on your baby. Studies show they can be harmful.

NEVER – give your baby any medicine not specifically prescribed by a Doctor. This includes any cold medicines labelled for infants. There is no proof that they work, and they are often quite harmful. Here are a few links to convince you not to do this:

No Cold Medicine for Infants or Toddlers

FDA – Recommendations for OTC Cough and Cold Products

Here is a great link to the Mayoclinic.com that talks specifically about babies and colds:

MayoClinic.com – Babies and The Common Cold

Finally, please remember that I am a concerned parent, and not a Doctor or medical professional. Do your own research, use your own parental intuition, and most importantly, contact your own Doctor whenever your baby is sick.