10 ways to treat a big old baby cold or flu for under two

It seems every time we go to playgroup, Bodhi comes home with a smile and a cold.

He is breastfed, eats way more vegetables than any adult I know and is a generally healthy boy. He just gets around.

I had a doctor tell me after a month of back to back colds that his immunity would be greatly improved as an adult. Again his nose is on the run and he is threatening a nursing strike due to not being able to breathe while latched on. I’ll be frank: I don’t give two craps if 24 year old Bodhi gets the sniffles–just make it stop now.

Here is my honest to goodness approach. Sometimes we get fancy, but mostly this is it.

1) Sleep: Our son needs a lot and I think he is pretty average in this regard. 11 hours at night and 2-3 hours of naps per day. Our naps are regular, set by Bodhi naturally and now encouraged by me daily at 9 am (wakes between 6:30am and 7:30am) and then again at 1 pm.

When he sleeps, if he is stuffed, he will clear his nasal passages, as babies naturally breath through their nose, and once again be able to nurse well. I nurse him like crazy when he wakes up to keep his nose clear and throughout the day.

I do whatever it takes to get him to sleep and keep him asleep when he is ill including lying down with him during the day and nursing him back to sleep if he wakes too soon. Co-sleeping at night regulates his temperature and lets me know when he isn’t doing well.

2) Avoid mucous-forming foods: For most this means cow’s milk and cow’s milk products, which we don’t use due to Bodhi’s allergies, as well as grains, particularly those containing gluten. Gluten is linked to recurrent ear infections.

3) Saline: Keep the nasal cavity moist by administering saline drops as many times as you remember during the day. Six is a good number. Do not use spray. It is possible once an infection has set into the nasal cavity for it to be distributed to the ear canals via the force of the spray. If you have a spray container with saline, simply turn it upside down and gently administer drops that way.

4) Baths and showers: Get the bathroom nice and steamy before bringing baby in and use the shower as often as possible throughout the day. I let Bodhi play on the floor while I have a shower. He loves it and sometimes it will produce a beloved sneeze to clear out his nose.

5) Prevention: Don’t play with other children and rarely introduce your child to new surroundings, orrrrrr deal with a few more colds and wash their hands during the play date. One mom suggested wiping the nose with warm saline after play dates–seems sensible. Kidding aside, I do avoid hanging with other moms when they tell me their child is sick. Some don’t care, I avoid it–I have a tough enough time being a good mom without a cold complicating things.

6) Immune boosting: Our son can use echinecea now that he is a bit older, but I don’t believe it can be administered to young babies under a year.  Substances like garlic and vitamin C pass through your breastmilk and into the baby. I take megadoses of both when I feel a cold coming on. If your baby is eating solids and has been introduced to these foods, kiwi, dark leafy greens, broccoli, oranges and strawberries are high in vitamin C.

7) Breastmilk and other fluids: Extra nursing is to be expected and carries valuable antibodies, essential fats and vitamins needed for healing. You can use breastmilk as a natural antibiotic topically by dropping in the nose and ears if infection sets in. Don’t breastfeed? Borrow a friends. 🙂 Administer as often as possible up to six or so times per day / night. For babies taking additional fluids, be sure to encourage as much drinking as possible to ensure hydration.

8) Elevation: Elevate your baby to an angle of 30 degrees when sleeping to encourage the nasal cavities and ears to clear-out. Ensure safety when doing this so the baby doesn’t fall off the bed or suffocate. Do not feed him lying down as this can encourage fluid to be pumped up into the ears while sucking.

9) Natural remedies and drugs: Unfortunately many natural remedies are untested so use caution when considering them for young babies. This sucks, I know. I hate hesitating to give my son ginger. Regardless, natural remedies are powerful and should be treated as such. Ask a professional or use homeopathics, which are all deemed as safe to use for humans of any age. A remedy I will not go without is garlic drops for ear infections. These can also be used to prevent infection if you see your baby’s nose mucous is starting to turn yellow or green (clear indicates a lack of infection).

I am a hippie at heart and don’t like using drugs myself. I will give Tylenol or Advil to my baby to ease his pain if I know it will work and it is needed, particularly if he is in such pain he won’t fall asleep at night. Babies feel and express pain differently, so don’t feel bad if your neighbour didn’t notice when her baby got three teeth and your life is made a living hell for one.

For colds and flus I find the fever never gets very high, but check it a few times per day as ear infections set in quickly and fever can spike. Tylenol or Advil is rarely needed to bring down a low-grade fever, which is very useful in making the body’s temperature inhospitable to infection.  I won’t go into the ranges of normal temperature here and treatment of fever. Instead see: http://www.healthlinkalberta.ca/Topic.asp?GUID={DF9768D1-6C35-4B8F-8C52-336E7258C3E8} I will mention to never put anyone in a cold bath to try to bring a fever down as it can cause them to go into shock–don’t listen to dad on this old myth.

10) Love: Get extra help for yourself so that you can pour your parental goodness upon your understandably grouchy baby. It is the times when Bodhi is sick / teething / etc. that I lose my cool. Prevention is the best medicine here. Say it with me: “Take a sick day daddy!”

2 Responses to “10 ways to treat a big old baby cold or flu for under two”
  1. These are all great homeopathic tidbits! I used some of these when Baby had an ear infection and I refused to use antibiotics, despite my husband’s fear mongering 😉


    • Theresa Gerritsen says:

      Thanks for this! I have yet to try the wet socks and colloidal silver for my babe though many of my mama friends swear by it.

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