Tried and Tested: Safely Curing Your Baby's Common Cold

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Considering that @LittleMrGray never got any kind of bug or sick until his first birthday, we are considered SUPER lucky! In fact, at Grayson's 12-month check up I remember seeing a mom with a 4-month old baby girl who had caught a cold from other babies at her day care center and my heart was just broken for her. Colds are common, and while it's one thing to be able to regulate the environment in your home (who comes, who goes, military-like hand-washing enforcement if you're me); when you have a baby who interacts more with the public or in child care facilities, it just becomes fair game and open season to the Germ World. 

No one wants to see their precious baby endure a cold or a bug strain of any sort, and when they do it's downright depressing. Plus, because you should not give babies standard "cold medicine", and definitely not any of those "at-home" or "natural" remedies that are usually mixed with honey (because babies cannot have honey until they're a year old people!); the road to a fix is usually much longer!

With Grayson, he literally started coming down with his the day of his birthday party. It stuck in his system for about 7-days and when he finally began shaking it off, he then caught a gastrointestinal bug which regressed his cold recovery. All in all, we had a sick baby for two-weeks total. Not to mention us catching the same cold as well. Nonetheless however, I managed to implement a system that helped him bounce back and shake off those cooties!

Here's what worked for him, and us:

Cool Mist Humidifier

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The first sign of a baby's cold is usually a runny nose which can turn into a massive non-stop flow of booger rivers if you're not proactive on slowing and halting production! With @LittleMrGray, his boogies slowly began making their appearance and then we realized his congestion was more nasal than chest. Either way, we needed to do something to break it up and keep it from hardening in his breathing passage ways. To defeat the gooey grossness, we purchased a cool mist humidifier which we love. There are a few articles on the web and baby-gear site reviews that go down a list of the most notable humidifiers on the market. This one, is actually on none of them. For me, I found that the ones highly recommended either took up too much of a footprint, or had annoying filters that had to be changed and/or repurchased, or honestly - were just ugly (go ahead, judge, I dare you!). So, when I came across this one, I placed the order, and have been so happy with my purchase, that I'm considering purchasing a second for my own room!

The Babymoov Digital Humidifier, $69.99 @ Amazon; has been awesome for us! It has a (accurate) built-in hydrometer that reads the current level of humidity in the room it's in and then you can set the level you're seeking to reach (for nursery's it's recommended to set at 50%, but since Grayson needed some more moisture, I set the humidifier at 70%). It features a setting for steam output adjustment. There are NO FILTERS to worry about (thank God!). It cleans super easy, has a movable nozzle, two different color nightlights (we keep it on blue) and a built in essential oil diffuser. I specifically sought out a cool mist humidifier because warm mist humidifiers are not safe and can burn a child if they get too close, or if there's a spill. The other thing that I love about this humidifier is that there's been no annoying white-dust residue to be annoyed by or freaked out about. Lastly, the auto-shutoff feature allows it to stop it's function once the water tank is low. All in all, this was a lifesaver with keeping Gray's boogies at bay and finally getting rid of them. Had we not had this humidifier going, he would've absolutely been down and out a few days longer!

Q: Is this the same thing as a vaporizer?
A: No.  Both vaporizers and humidifiers accomplish the same goal: they release moisture into the air. However, humidifiers produce moisture by using a motor to convert water to a fine mist. Vaporizers produce moisture by using a heating element to convert water to steam.  Therefor in general, cool-mist humidifiers are recommended.

Which brings me to my next product...

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Baby-Safe Essential Oils

Since our humidifier has a built-in essential oil diffuser, I researched high and low for a safe and effective, comfortable blend of various essential oils. With that search, I also searched high and low for the best pocket-friendly option. After my intense due-diligence, I stumbled on oils from Plant Therapy and that is now the brand that I exclusively use. Now, I know that there are all of these other pushy brands out there such as OnGuard and Young Living, but just like the options mentioned, Plant Therapy oils are USDA Organic, contain absolutely no additives or fillers and are substantially lesser expensive, making them a SAFE and definite option for me. 

Now, there's a lot to actually learn about using essential oils with babies, especially knowing that using oils around babies younger than 6-months is completely discouraged; but since Grayson had turned The Big One in time for his germ party, using the blend below was a green-light process. Here's our combative mix that helped Grayson get better quicker:

  • Frankincense Essential Oil: 1-2 Drops
    • Great for clearing up sinuses, yet much gentler than Eucalyptus essential oil; which is really popular but should NOT be used around babies and children.
  • Lavender Essential Oil: 1-2 Drops
    • Great for calming, soothing and known for being therapeutic and generally the safest to use around babies.
  • Lemon Essential Oil: 1-2 Drops
    • Great as a natural disinfectant and is naturally anti-bacterial. Lemon essential oil is also known to help ease anxiety and depression. 

Once you place this in your diffuser you just set in a large open room and you're good to go! If your baby's room is not large, then try using a diffuser in a large open room where they spend most of their time in the daytime instead, and no oils - only the humidifier at night. I highly suggest learning more about the benefits, and more importantly safest ways to use essential oils, especially around babies and children. If interested - a great book to check out is: the Essential Oils Pocket Reference 7th Edition, available on Amazon.

P.S.: For those who prefer to shop on Amazon, you can find the Plant Therapy line there too!

Natural Baby Chest Rub

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Growing up, I remember being slathered in Vicks VaporRub every time I came down with something. It was the go-to pick that my parents swore was a miracle in a jar. Today however, in a time that pushes the void of all ignorance; warnings have been served left and right informing the public that Vicks VaporRub has been deemed dangerous especially for babies

In short, the toxic ingredients found in Vicks VapoRub such as camphor (which is known for causing seizures - if ingested, although you should be aware that white camphor essential oil is not considered the same), irritate airways and increase mucus production. For a child under 2, it can be significant and a big problem as they have small airways to begin with, which if they become inflamed a bit of extra added mucus can narrow them quickly and severely. Swallowing or accidentally ingesting Vicks VaporRub can also cause fatal poisoning in toddlers, and topical application of camphor that is absorbed through mucous membranes or broken skin can be toxic. So applying on areas such as the nostrils is never okay, and should it get in your eye it can injure your cornea. Aside from the very dangerous camphor, Vicks VaporRub is also includes the following toxic and unsafe ingredients that should not be applied on your skin

  • Turpentine oil: Although considered a “natural ingredient” it is no less harmful than other artificial solvents. When in vapor, turpentine oil can damage lungs and the respiratory system as well as burn skin and eyes. This ingredient when ingested can also cause renal failure.

  • Menthol: Has no actual effectiveness aside from tricking your brain into thinking you're less congested when you really are not. There are many items that include menthol which are safe (I'll discuss one below later in this post) however, it has no place on your skin.

  • Petrolatum: As a mineral oil, petrolatum is not a sustainable product. Environment aside however, it has no place in being used on the skin especially your baby's skin.  Mineral oil creates a barrier on the skin that can lock in bacteria and toxins causing them to build up and leading to skin irritation.

Sooo, with that said... 

Discontinue the use of Vick's VaporRub, STAT!

There are so many better and natural options out on the market now, and my absolute favorite to use on Grayson and myself is Zarbee's Naturals Soothing Chest Rub, $5.99 @ Target.

I love it because it is gentle enough to use on babies 2-months and older; it contains calming eucalyptus and lavender, and natural beeswax as well as shea butter balm. It has absolutely no petrolatum/petroleum; and is free of artificial dyes, and fragrances. While Grayson was sick I placed this on his chest, back, and bottom of feet 2-3 times a day which helped soothe and ease his congestion.

The Snotsucker

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Of course it's one thing to loosen up all that mucus so it can freely see it's way up and out various passage ways (nose, mouth and tush), but some need an extra push, or eh - suck.

Old-school bulb syringe aspirators are pointless and unsanitary, plus - they can make your child more sick than they already are. Thankfully now however, we have snotsuckers (literally, that's what they are) such as the NoseFrida! Designed in Sweden, the NoseFrida - $15.99; is a contraption where you literally suck the snot out of your little one's nose, by way of a nasal tube which gets plugged with a disposable hygiene sponge filter (which prevents boogers and snot from reaching your mouth and shooting to the back of your throat), which then connects to a air tube which connects to a mouth piece. Check out the video below:

Sounds disgusting, and it probably is; but it works! And, chances are that you've probably come in oral contact with more concerning things at this point in your life anyway (just saying)!

While Gray was sick, we would snot-suck at least twice a day. There was just no way we could keep wiping his nose without causing crazy irritation and peeling. While the device worked great on its own, there is a hack to make the snot-sucking experience even more effective...

Saline Drops

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Saline drops is literally just that - water made of saline (salt) which is used via a squirt bottle to spray into the nose and help mucus to move to the front of the nasal passage way. This allows for easier removal with an aspirator such as a NoseFrida. Aside from assisting in the cleaning process, the use of the saline drops also help keep nasal passageways moisturized. For @LittleMrGray - I love the Little Remedies Saline Spray - $5.00 @ Walgreens anddddd FSA eligible!

Nose-Friendly Saline Wipes

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With the combination of saline and water being genius at aiding the booger release, for when you're out and about or your tot simply needs a wipe-down, I like to keep a pack of Boogie Wipes - 2 for $6 at Walgreens; handy. Now, one can easily say - 'oh just use a regular baby wipe or napkin!' - um, no. Not all baby wipes are created equal or suitable in the long run for these precious noses; and napkins...blasphemy!

Boogie Wipes win in my book because they're super soft and already have a saline solution to further enforce the goo-be-gone mission!

Vapors On-The-Go

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Now, because LIFE HAPPENS, you may not always be at home when your baby catches a cold; I.E.: traveling!

In fact - it's insanely common for a baby to come down with a cold after a flight due to all of the germs that they come in contact with in airports, on an airplane and during transit. Between this, climate changes, and scenery changes - your baby is up for grabs when it comes to catching a very discomforting bug while you try and make it to your final destination. And, because no one necessarily wants to tote a humidifier around in luggage - because you don't have to, duh - there is another solution for when these days catch you outside of the comfort of your home, or simply, grandma's house.

Little Remedies has this awesome product called Gentle Vapors - $9.49 @ Walgreens. Similar to plug-in air freshener, Gentle Vapors is a plug-in waterless vaporizer that emits gentle vapors into the air of any room. The plug in comes with a cotton pad that when plugged in releases the vapors which include menthol (remember - safe to smell, not to lather on!); and essential oils of eucalyptus, camphor, lavender and chamomile - all which are safe, especially presented in this form; and not in a serum or other form that can be easily ingested.

This is perfect and convenient and I actually recommend packing one with some pad refills, if you're traveling. Each refill lasts up to 8-hours once plugged in and the plug in comes with a built-in nightlight.

Proper Electrolytes

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If your baby's cold starts to take a turn for the worse or suddenly regress, it is likely that your child will lose their appetite for some hours or even days. This happened with Grayson. He didn't want to eat a single thing, not even fruit pouches. He got so sick that it became a serious worry because regardless of what's happening you MUST keep your baby hydrated! Please remember the significance of having your baby produce a sufficient amount of wet diapers while they are sick, otherwise dehydration in babies can have a very serious consequence. The count of wet diapers for babies and toddlers over a 24-hour period: at least SIX.

Steer Clear of The Default!

A quickly thought of solution is often Pedialyte. One would think it's great but Pedialyte is loaded with Maltodextrin which is a starch filler ingredient used to thicken and preserve shelf life. In short, it's an artificial carbohydrate which carries a high glycemic index. To understand glycemic indexes (or GI); glycemic index is a measure of how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels. Low-GI foods have a GI value under 55, while medium-GI foods are between 51–69 and high-GI foods are over 70. High-GI foods raise blood sugar quickly because they contain sugars that are easily absorbed by the gut. Maltodextrin has an exceptionally high GI that ranges from 85 to 135, as it is highly processed and easily digested. People such as athletes can tolerate high-GI foods like maltodextrin around workouts since exercise makes the body more efficient at using and removing excess blood sugar for storage. However, the average person (ahem, babies!) can struggle to control the spikes in blood sugar from high-GI foods, which can have negative effects on overall health. Glycemic indexes aside, this artificial carb filler also has been show to contribute to the growth of harmful stomach bacteria such as E. Coli and decrease immunity against Salmonella. In general, maltodrextrin is one of those things that is very commonly used, but also one of those things that can trigger so many health issues, which when they occur, we'll be puzzled as to why it's happening. In addition to the above, Pedialyte is also packed with artificial flavors, TONS of artificial sweeteners, food color dyes; and Pedialyte only contains 4 of the 6 electrolytes found in the electrolyte spectrum (magnesium and calcium). The complete 6 electrolytes that make up the spectrum are: magnesium, calcium, chloride, phosphorus, potassium and sodium. So basically - with Pedialyte you're feeding your child something designed to provide a very temporary fix, that will contribute to much more permanent problems later.

After learning all of this - I searched for another option and discovered Ultima Replenisher Electrolyte Powder Toddler Formula - $14.99 @ Amazon, thanks to the recommendation of a friend. Ultima Replenisher already makes amazing electrolyte powder for adults, and their toddler formula which comes in a jar or in single-use packets contains all six electrolytes, is paleo-friendly, vegan friendly, keto-friendly, non-GMO; has no high-fructose corn syrup, nothing artificial and zero sugar.

Syringes

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Another important thing I recommend, which you should always have available are disposable oral medicine syringes. No, we haven't discussed any syrups or oral medications in this post however, if your baby gets as sick as Grayson did - you may have trouble with getting your baby to take down liquids. Syringe-feeding Grayson was the only way I could get him to take his electrolytes without issue. Otherwise, he wasn't trying to take it in bottle form for a few days in any kind of self-motivating way. You can easily find various brands on Amazon, or simply request them at your local pharmacy. I have these at home which can be purchased in packs of two for about $6 on Amazon.com.

Last But Not Least...

I hate to speak on the ways of capitalization, but...

...use your baby's cold as an excuse to obsessively shower them in extra love, hugs and kisses!

Love absolutely heals, and it is a very important part of soothing and aiding your child while seeing them through any recovery! :)

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Cheers to lots of love and amazing good health, for you and your family!

Xo,

Ros