Baby’s First Cold
For any new parent, the first time your baby starts to feel under the weather, it’s a scary time. Are they just reacting to a new food, are they experiencing allergies for the first time, are they just teething, or are they COVID or RSV? All of these things have similar symptoms, so it can be nerve-wracking letting your baby figure out how sickness feels and how to deal with these new sensations. Nevertheless, the first bout of sniffles will come, and you’ll have a thousand and one questions. The Neighbors Pharmacy team has answered a few frequently asked questions to make these times a little less stressful.
What caused the cold? Did I do something wrong?
Germs can live on any hard surface for around 24 hours unless disinfected. Think of the grocery cart you touched at the store, the shelf in the fridge when you made your lunch or your steering wheel after pumping gas. Most colds are unavoidable and can help your baby’s immune system develop. So ditch the mom guilt and add some extra hand sanitizer to your purse, car, and anywhere else you may need a quick disinfection.
My little one feels warm, but he’s fine when I use a temperature gun.
Since babies have not established homeostasis, they emit a lot of heat from their heads. So when you’re already worried about a fever, feeling the top of your head will do little to calm your fears. When babies are little, rectal temperatures are the most effective. If you’re not comfortable performing one and can’t make it out to your pediatrician for some help, invest in a good auxiliary thermometer. These thermometers, used under the arm, can often be found in the baby section of department stores and are the next best thing to a rectal temperature. Do some research on the best ways to get an accurate measurement, especially once your baby starts moving, and keep in mind there may be some fluctuations in temperature. If unsure, don’t hesitate to call your pediatrician for advice.
My baby seems to really be struggling. What should I give her for the symptoms?
Long story short, nothing but a little extra comfort from mom and dad. Many colds are viral, so antibiotics aren’t going to work, and many decongestants aren’t safe for infant consumption. Humidifiers can help during naptimes, and warm baths can work wonders for calming an extra fussy baby. If your baby has a lingering fever, baby Tylenol can help keep the temperature down with your doctor’s permission. Always consult a doctor first to get the correct dosage for your child. Outside of that, the best thing to help your little one is snuggles and hugs whenever a coughing fit comes on and a little extra attention during playtime. If your baby is struggling with a cough, do as much as possible to keep the fussing to a minimum. Extensive crying can irritate an already sore throat and lead to a coughing fit that would leave even a veteran parent nervous.
The temperature isn’t high enough yet to be considered a fever, but my baby is super lethargic.
Just because research shows you don’t need to worry about a fever until it reaches 100.4 degrees doesn’t mean there won’t be other signs your little one doesn’t feel well. It’s normal for any parent to worry about their child acting a little differently. The most important thing is ensuring your child is still eating and drinking enough. If your child is dealing with an ear infection or teething pain, suckling may be painful. This can make soothing your little one even more complicated if you can’t rely on your handy dandy pacifier. Still, a baby cannot recover fully if they are not getting enough nutrients to fight off their sickness. Many sources say not to wake a sleeping baby. And you can totally follow that as long as your little one is still eating roughly the same amount of ounces each day. However, if they start to consistently only get through half of their bottle before they start dozing off, you’ll need to wake them.
Don’t stress if your baby seems to get sick every other week, don’t stress. “In the first year, babies come down with about six to 12 infections, most lasting seven to 10 days,” says Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., a pediatric expert at Children’s Mercy Hospital and Clinics in Kansas City, Missouri. Then, unfortunately, colds are going to happen. So monitor your child closely to ensure the cold doesn’t develop into something more severe. And it is ALWAYS okay to call your pediatrician or urgent care if you have a gut feeling something could be wrong.