Surviving Your Baby’s First Cold

Surviving Babys First Cold

Fleece / Jeans / Faux Fur Blanket / Shelves / Play Mat

Everyone warned me that as soon as Amalia started daycare, she’d be sick pretty much constantly through the spring. In theory, Anel and I were on board with that because we were told by so many people (including our pediatrician) that it would help to build up her immunity. But then she got sick last week for the first time and I finally understood what people meant when they said your baby’s first cold is the hardest.

For her it started as a cough that then turned into a much worse cough with a seriously runny nose. Although I was traveling, yesterday was her first day of acting like herself again, laughing and chatting up a storm, after almost a full week of being sick.

A cold is a cold is a cold… But when it’s your baby who looks so small and vulnerable and you can’t explain what is going on to her, it can feel like the end of the world in the moment.

The worst of it was Friday morning when she was coughing uncontrollably. I thought for sure it was RSV or Croup. Her breathing was very labored so I rushed to the pediatrician for their drop in hours, arriving just in time.  The doctor assured me that there was no infection in her lungs, no ear infection, and that I did the right thing by coming in. She gave me clues as to what to look for (wheezing, a cough that sounds like a bark, and even more shortness of breath) before getting worried.

Despite her assurance, it was still scary to hear this tiny little thing coughing so hard and clearly not feeling well.

But I’m happy to say we survived what all parents have been surviving for ages with a few tricks that I learned from our doctor, my mama friends, and a lot of you on Instagram! Here are the ones that worked best for us:

The NoseFrida: I used it to suck out her boogers multiple times everyday (That’s a sentence I never thought I’d write). The doc warned us that she would scream and hate it, but apparently my child is into boogers because she thought it was hilarious.

– Hot steam showers: After many recs from you guys on Instagram, we tried sitting with her in the bathroom twice a day for 10-15 minutes with a hot shower running. It would clear up some of her mucus and break up her cough. Just make sure to bring a few toys or books in with you so that your baby doesn’t get bored. I learned that after our first go-round!

Matys Baby Chest Rub: We discovered Matys through a friend and are now serious fans of the brand. They make baby-friendly wellness products like this chest rub that’s filled with delicious smelling essential oils. It’s a great alternative to Vicks. We put it on the bottom of her feet a few times a day and on her chest before getting into the bath so that she could breathe it in.

– Humidifier: We kept it running during all of her naps and overnight. On the one night when I forgot to turn it on, she woke up coughing way more than the other nights, so I think this really made a big difference too.

– Elevating her while she slept: A lot of people suggested putting a few books under her mattress to keep her a little more elevated while she slept. I don’t know if it made a difference or not but it definitely didn’t hurt.

– Hydration: One thing that her doctor was adamant about was that Amalia needed to get enough fluids when she was sick. She never wanted a full feed and would often turn her head away or get fussy when I came to her with a bottle. Instead, I listened really closely to her cues and would give her a few ounces at a time, whenever she showed any remote interest in food. This meant ditching her normal schedule and routine, but she seems to be getting back on track already.

On her worst day, she hardly ate at all so I took some water in a dropper and literally dropped it into her mouth to see if it would work. She was loving it, so I gave her as much as I could until she was over it. I did that a few times throughout the day with water and formula and it made me feel way less scared about dehydration

– Patience: At the end of the day, there isn’t a whole lot you can do for a baby with a cold and/or cough. We just had to be patient and make her as comfortable as possible while she was sick.

What are your tricks for baby colds and coughs? I want to go into our next one more prepared!

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  1. Marisol said:

    I don’t understand the whole building up the immunity thing. So many people mention it. Does this mean when she’s like 5 and in Kindergarten she won’t get sick? It feels strange to me to have mothers be on maternity leave, go back to work, send their kid to daycare to then have to miss 29288282 days of work (after already being out on maternity leave) because their kid is always sick.

    1.24.18 · Reply
    • I don’t 100% get it either but apparently when they’re exposed to germs earlier, their bodies learn how to fight them earlier so once they hit Kindergarten, she won’t be sick as much. But who knows, this is my first rodeo so I’m learning as I go!

      1.24.18 · Reply
      • Meghan G said:

        Immunity by definition means being resistent to something, like your body building antibodies to a virus by being exposed to it. There are hundreds of strands of the common cold that people are exposed to over their lifetime. So if children are exposed to them at a younger age and build the antibodies to them they won’t get sick by the same virus years later. That is how our pediatrician explained it to us. So not to say kids in daycare won’t ever get sick in kindergarten (and beyond) but they may have immunity to viruses they were previously exposed to. And it’s why kids seem like they are sick all of the time vs. adults – because we have built the immunity. PS – my daughter missed 3 days of daycare her first year! Not 10000000 as said above 😉

        1.24.18 · Reply
    • Kristin said:

      As a mother who was on maternity leave for 3mos, went back to work full-time and started sending my daughter to daycare, I don’t have another choice than to miss a few days of work when she gets sick. She’s been at daycare full-time for about 9mos now and I’ve probably missed 3 or 4 days total due to sickness….not 29288282 as you suggest. Most of those days were due to ear infections, not actual sickness, but she can’t be at daycare while on antibiotics. When they’re exposed to germs at a young age, versus being kept at home with minimal exposure to germs, their bodies start to build up immunity. Just like when you get a flu shot, you’re given a light strain of the flu so your body builds up antibodies to better fight off the more serious strains. In the long run, it will make a big difference!

      1.24.18 · Reply
    • Carolyn Zezima said:

      Here’s a somewhat medical-speak study from the NIH about the development of a baby, child, adult and elder immune systems. Key sources of protections along the way are the placenta, the innate immune system, breastfeeding/mother’s milk, exposure/early infections and our adaptive immune system, good bacteria and other flora in soil, gut bacteria, animals, environment/emotional development, etc., and vaccines. Then it’s all downhill as we enter old age and our body has just been bombarded over a lifetime with antigens and our reduced microbiota/bacterial diversity that we had when we were younger. But that last stage is natural and somewhat unavoidable–the key is getting your child exposed enough bacteria to develop a fully-effective immune system in early childhood to avoid later auto-immune problems as much as possible. E.g., let them dig and eat soil, lol.

      1.25.18 · Reply
  2. Kelsey said:

    I’m so glad Amalia is feeling better!! I’ve been using the nose frida on my little one after baths each night (even when she’s not sick) and she thinks it’s hysterical too, haha. I’m going to order Maty’s so we have it for when my sweet girl gets her first cold. Thank you for all the great tips! 🙂

    1.24.18 · Reply
  3. Whitney said:

    Do you ever try baby Tylenol or any other type of medicinal cough/mucus suppresant? That’s typically the first thing I reach for when my daughter has a cold and nips it in the bud usually in just a few days.

    1.24.18 · Reply
    • We ended up trying Tylenol on her worst night and she ended up so hyper and crazy and wouldn’t go to sleep. I think she had the opposite reaction of most babies haha.

      1.24.18 · Reply
  4. May I suggest that you try a mindset that she will be healthy in daycare? My son is two and has been in daycare since he was 12 weeks and barely had colds and has never been too sick to attend. I have the mindset that he’s going to be healthy and he is. I know you were more looking for tips but that’s all I’ve got! I’m not looking to start a breastfeeding debate at all but will add I breastfed my son until a few months ago so that certainly wasn’t hurting anything in the immunity department for him.

    1.24.18 · Reply
    • I love that! The power of positive thinking is always a good idea. Thank you for the idea 🙂

      1.24.18 · Reply
  5. I feel you! My daughter had RSV at four months and we wound up in the hospital overnight because of her labored breathing. So scary, especially for this first time mom!

    When we brought her home, we kept her elevated and had TWO humidifiers going at all times. We keep one in her room now and always have it going at night. I hope she feels better!

    1.24.18 · Reply
  6. Sarah said:

    So sad seeing your baby sick…glad she’s feeling better! We’ve had a few colds since my son started daycare and I definitely agree with all of your tips. Off topic, but what do you think of the play mat that you have? I’ve been looking at those ones and was actually thinking of getting one of the heirloom ones instead of a rug in our family room because our rug is a mess with a 10 month old. Obviously it won’t be the same as a rug, but do you like the looks of it? I can’t tell if it will be okay in a family room or if it will look weird. Thanks!

    1.24.18 · Reply
  7. Terri said:

    Parents should definitely talk to their doctor before elevating or doing anything with a crib/mattress! SIDS is so scary.

    1.24.18 · Reply
  8. Jenn B. said:

    I would try a diffuser at night with a mix of lemon, lavender and peppermint oil in it. Works like a charm to help with coughing at night!

    1.24.18 · Reply
  9. Jeanie Marie said:

    I have had great success with everything you tried! Lately I have added RC essential oil, it has wiped out my little boys coughs at night!

    1.24.18 · Reply
  10. Col said:

    Former daycare mom here. Daycare is an intense environment– little kids are disease vectors, and they bring this stuff with them and share it around constantly. I think it gets better after about age 3– fewer colds, and the colds bother them less. My kids are school-age now, and they rarely get whatever nasty bug is going around school. They just don’t get sick much.

    1.29.18 · Reply