When your baby is sick, it can be a scary thing. for one, you don’t know what medicine is good or bad and you’re weary to give them anything the doctor doesn’t approve or instruct. however, as you become more seasoned in parenting, you learn about other ways to alleviate your child’s symptoms and help her feel more comfortable during their illness and the common cold or stomach flu doesn’t worry you as much. it’s the new sicknesses that you’ve never dealt with before that worry you.
The Common Cold
It’s pretty much a guarantee that when your child begins daycare, she’ll be sick most of the first year. Exposure to different viruses, while troublesome for you because you have to deal with a wakeful, miserable baby – is actually good for her because it helps build her immune system.
Symptoms of the common cold are what we experience – nasal congestion, sore throat, runny nose, cough, low-grade fever. the difference though, is that we can take medicine to relieve us of congestion and cough; babies under 2yrs cannot. So here’s my cold-fighting arsenal whenever Kayla gets sick:
It’s hell when babies can’t breathe because of a stuffy nose. They don’t quite know how to blow their nose and the congestion will keep them up at night and make them miserable. one of the more important things is to ensure that you flush out their nasal passages since they can’t blow their nose. Hydrasense Ultra Getle Mist for Baby is the best thing on the market; it causes no rebound congestion like other products can, moisturizes their nasal and sinus cavities while cleaning it out. when kayla is sick, i usually flush her out about 6 times/day as recommended by my doctor. the beauty of hydrasense is that you can use it as many times as needed and it won’t damage your baby’s gentle nasal membrane.
The design also prevents any contamination so all you need to do is rinse the nozzle with warm water and let dry. Be warned: babies will hate this at first so you can either sneak up on them and dole out 2 shots into each nostril or do what I do and tell kayla what i’m doing. I always tell her that we’re going to ‘do her nose’ and show her the bottle. When I first started using this, I would give it to her and she would hold it, take off the nozzle and look at it etc. Your baby will resist and scream and cry but if you keep at it and make it part of your daily routine, they learn to accept it. Kayla now just stands there and let’s me hydrasense her. If she’s really resistant for whatever reason, i will bargain with her, something like: “ok kayla, you can play with [insert toy here] after mommy cleans your nose”. Who knew i’d have to negotiate with a toddler.
This is the best $30 I’ve ever spent. Some friends told me about this product which i glared at because you attach it to your vacuum! i know, right? it’s crazy! but man, it works. It’s a scary thought – you think that the powerful suction of the vacuum will suck out your baby’s brain but there is a suction regulator (see Area A) that reduces the suction power to a very gentle suction. It’s actually better than that useless bulb aspirator which can damage the thin nasal membrane but the babyvac creates a gentle and constant pull that sucks up all the mucus out of your baby’s nose. Congestion often leads to ear infections (which are not fun) because the fluids builds up in the tubes leading to painful screams!
Area B is where all the yucky snot gets captured and Area C is where you insert into the tube of your vacuum. because it cleans so well, it can prevent ear infections! again, your baby will hate it and be scared of it at first but i always warn kayla before turning on the vacuum with a “ok kayla, big noise vroom! vroom!”. she’s not bothered by the vacuum – in fact, she loves it and laughs every time i turn it on but i say it anyway because i always have.
I always use a cool mist humidifier in kayla’s room at night regardless of the season but when she’s sick, i turn to a vaporizer. i don’t know if it makes a difference but apparently the steam helps calm the airways if baby is coughing. i called Telehealth Ontario and they advised me not to use the vicks inhalant for coughs because the menthol vapors can actually irritate the bronchial tubes. The vicks vaporizer look a bit rudimentary if you ask me and cleaning it is a bitch but if it works, then I will put in the extra time and clean it. the thing that sucks is that canada doesn’t sell the oil-free one – you actually have to pour the vicks inhalant oill into this little divot and it can get messy and gross. another thing that’s annoying is that it emits this bright green light which i don’t know what it’s for other than distracting a baby from sleep. it’s like putting a bullseye on the fucking thing that screams: stare at me all night instead of sleeping!! we had to cover that light with electrical tape. obviously, the folks who designed this thing do not have babies.
Ear thermometers aren’t the most accurate but it gives you a general idea of what your baby’s temperature is. we use the braun thermoscan and it looks like the one my doctor uses so i figured it’s a good one. it better be for $70. kayla is so used to me jamming that thing in her ear that whenever she sees it, she points to her ear and says “temppapa?”. when she went to her pedi and he was going to check her temperature, she stuck her ear out for him as soon as she saw it, it was so cute! he laughed and said that most kids are terrified of it and asked how i taught her that trick.
For fevers, teething pain, any sort of pain, I rely on baby Advil. I used to use baby tylenol or tempra but that doesn’t do anything for pain relief for Kayla (used to work when she was younger) and is only good for fever. Advil a bit stronger and lasts longer than Tylenol (8hrs as opposed to 4hrs). I'm not really a fan of medicating my baby but if Kayla needs it, I don’t see a problem with pain relief. Why let a baby suffer when she doesn’t need to.
Here’s a medical fact: if your baby has a fever over 38.5C (101F), neither Motrin or Tylenol is not effective. It’s important to bring your baby’s temperature down below 38.5 for the medicine to work and you should do this through dressing baby in loose clothing and using cool compresses. When Kayla had a high temperature, we gave her a bath in slightly cooler-than-normal water and draped wet wash cloths over her back and arms. This should bring your baby’s temperature down within 15-20mins.
Coughing is the worst. It keeps baby up and wakes baby up! Health Canada has pulled all OTC cough suppressants for children under 2yrs which is strange because I remember my mom forcing cough syrup down my throat when I was a kid. It was the green Triaminacol DM and I think the flavor was called Rotten Sewage Garbage. It was so bad it always made me throw up but she just force-fed me anyway. Could she not have gotten the grape or lemon flavored one? why the green garbage-tasting one? it was always the green one. Whenever I got sick (which was a lot), I would hide the bottle or throw it away but somehow, it always ended up back in our pantry and I always ended up eating it.
Because Kayla is under 2yrs old, I’m unable to give her any cough medicine instead, I have to rely on homeopathic remedies. I’ve been using Boiron Stodal for coughs. It’s honey-based which is good for soothing sore throats and helping to relieve coughs. I found that if given according to instructions, actually does help alleviate some coughing. I do like this product; it’s not as thick as honey and Kayla seems to like it. It’s easy to swallow and I use a large syringe to give it to her.
I am so glad vicks makes a baby rub. i slather this on when kayla has a stuffy nose or is coughing. whether this helps i’m not sure but i’ve already gone through about 3/4 of the jar since she got sick. My sister told me to put some vicks on the bottom of her feet because it stops the coughing; I will coat Kayla’s entire foot including in between her toes and then put her socks on.
i do think that putting it on her chest and back helps and it makes me feel better that i’ve done all that i can to make her more comfortable.
The Stomach Flu
when your baby has a tummy bug, you’ll be dealing with vomiting, diarrhea or both. kayla caught 2 stomach bugs both of which resulted with the nastiest diarrhea ever and the last stomach flu had accompanying vomiting. they should list ‘changing nasty diarrhea poop’ in the show Canada’s Worst Jobs because there’s nothing more disgusting than smelling, looking and cleaning your child’s runny, watery poop; especially if it is explosive and has gone all the way up her back and all over her clothes. That one time where her diaper exploded, it went all the way up her back, along the sides of her arms (?!) and down her legs. The only place that she didn’t get poop on was her hair and her feet. It was the most disgusting thing ever and although I felt so bad for her, I think I thew up a little in my mouth when i saw/smelled it. I’m no stranger to kayla’s poops but this one took the cake.
so when your little one has the stomach flu, stay away from dairy unless you want a child vomiting like the exorcist. Give plenty of clear fluids such as soups and water and if the vomiting and/or diarrhea is bad, give them an electrolyte replacement fluid such as Pedialyte or make your own using honey (for kids over 1yr), salt and other things I can’t remember (google it). The Pedialyte freezies are really good and some kids like it but kayla hates anything but water so i ended up eating them.
to feed your baby, put her on the (bland) BRAT diet – bananas, rice, applesauce, toast – that’s it, nothing more. the bland food is easy on the bowels and anything fatty, spicy or dairy will aggravate the tummy and make things worse. the BRAT diet helps to harden the stools and gives your baby the proper nutrients. i usually boil congee for kayla and throw in some veggies and chicken. kayla’s not a fan of applesauce so i’ll give her real apples instead. we had to switch up our night routine because she’s used to getting a bottle of milk so instead, we would give her a sippy cup of water before putting her down. oh, and it’s good to coat their entire diaper area with a good diaper rash cream in case an explosion happens at night. you don’t want a diaper rash on top of a stomach bug.
Fevers are a scary thing because you don’t know what to do especially if Tylenol or Motrin isn’t helping. Kayla had a really high fever just last week Thursday when her cold symptoms started up. Actually, it was more than a cold – the doctor said it was a bacterial infection because of the high fever. That night, her health deteriorated pretty quickly and her fever shot up to 104F (or 40C) which scared the hell out of us.
Tylenol or Motrin are not effective for temperatures above 101F (or 38.5C) so it’s important to get baby’s temperature down where the medicine can be most effective. You do this through cool compresses applied to baby’s forehead, tops of hands and feet. Don’t use cold water but water that is room-temperature otherwise baby will cry because the cold towels against baby’s hot skin will hurt. We were so scared because Kayla’s temperature wasn’t going down so we put her in a luke-warm bath and spread wet wash cloths on her back and chest. That helped a lot and then we gave her lots and lots of water and put her straight to bed. She woke up twice on Thursday night and when I went to her, she was burning up so I sat with her for a bit with cool compresses on her forehead and feet and gave her a huge sippy cup of water which she eagerly drank, the poor thing. Make sure you monitor your baby’s temperature to ensure it doesn’t go too high otherwise, it may cause fibrile seizures.
Kayla had a bad ear infection once and she wasn’t even sick – it was from teething. when she teethes, she gets congested and i wasn’t as diligent in flushing out her nose like i used to so it came back and bit me in the ass as an ear infection. poor thing – she would scream and cry and not sleep and i thought she was just causing drama so i left her in the crib. but when i took her to the doctor, she told me she had an ear infection and i felt so horrible for leaving her in there!
babies get ear infections because the fluid that accumulates in that area doesn’t drain properly. as they age, their tubes elongates and starts to drain properly but until then, it’s important to encourage drainage by flushing out the nasal passages. Actual ear infections require antibiotics; fluid behind the ear do not and to prevent ear infections, you just have to use hydrasense or some kind of saline drop to loosen and encourage fluid drainage.