A congested baby is a miserable baby.
Yes, I guess her first cold is a milestone in her young life…but I’d vote no on grabbing the camera, unless of course you want capture that memory of snot crystals lining her nose like Shrek’s margarita glass.
The thing is, baby congestion is Enemy Numero Uno when it comes to good sleep. She’s not going to sleep, and by default, you aren’t either.
How to Unplug Your Congested Baby
When it comes to fixing baby congestion, the most effective solution is to attack the problem from two angles:
- Internal – use the natural techniques below to keep your baby’s nasal passages clear and open.
- External – use the environmental tricks below to keep snot draining down and not clustering up for bacteria parties at 2am.
The most effective baby congestion solution is going to be a balance of both the internals and the externals, so let’s break them down so you can actually get started on fixing that sad, miserable, frown.
Fixing Your Congested Baby
from the Inside-Out
Obviously, your little one feels like crap. He’s snuffling along, fussing up a storm and unable to figure out what he wants. All he knows is that he is VERY UNHAPPY.
His face is sporting a yellow mustache of crusty nastiness and you’re pretty sure no one has slept in the past 48 hours. Although there’s not much medical intervention for the common cold, there are products you can use to help suck that goop out of there and help him breathe, sleep, and feel a lot better.
Oh, and btw, I would recommend stocking up on these items ahead of time (as in now) so when the sniffles start, you don’t have to make a Walgreens run at 2 am.
Helpful Congested Baby Products to Have On Hand
Fixing Your Congested Baby
from the Outside-In
Okay, so you’ve sucked (and he’s screamed) until all the yellow/green gunk has been pulled out of the deep recesses of his sick sinuses. That’s the first part. He’s actually feeling better now, although he’d never admit it.
The problem is, this is temporary and you need something that will at least ensure you’ve got 3-4 hours of sleep before the next wake-up-and-scream. This is when you tackle the next part of your equation. The environment!
Here are some of the tools I’d recommend to help your congested baby feel better for longer.
Smart Environmental Products to Help Your Congested Baby
Humidity Can Help Your Congested Baby
You’ll want to keep the air fairly wet, to prevent those green globes from crystalizing and thickening up. I would recommend a nice bath with aromatherapy. Then, when you pull him out and are toweling him off, crank that water to HOT and let the bathroom steam up. It will help keep things loose.
If you live in a cold climate, a warm mist humidifier will help prevent the room from getting SUPER cold. (Just be aware you will need to check on the filter to make sure mold doesn’t grow on it!). If you live in a warm climate, the LAST thing you need is more hot air! Choose the cold mist humidifier. Personally, I like the option of choosing both, depending on the time of year.
Keep the Snot Draining
One of the best things you can do for your congested baby is to help him sit up a little while he sleeps. This allows the snot to drain down the back of his throat, instead of gathering and building up in his sinuses.
You can do that by carrying your baby a bit more than normal. Not only will he feel comforted by having you so close, but carrying him will help that drainage go the right direction. A really comfortable wrap like this one can give him what he needs without ruining your back.
Of course, you need to sleep too!
The best way to keep him slightly inclined while sleeping is to use a crib wedge. For safety reasons, of course, you want to insert these under your crib mattress. You don’t want anything in your baby’s crib that he could accidentally slide between. So make sure you use these wedges correctly!
A Safe Crib Slant You Can Make Yourself
In order to keep his sweet tushie in place and prevent him from sliding down the slope, use this little hack:
- Roll up a hand towel and secure both ends with a rubber band.
- Slide it under the crib sheet, so it forms a little “U” shape. (Yours should be tighter than the photo below, I was demonstrating on a bed.)
- Make sure the “U” shape isn’t higher than his armpits. (If so, find a smaller towel, dishtowel perhaps?)
- Place that cute little bum inside the “U” like he’s sitting on a swing. Ta da! He’s sitting pretty and draining nicely!
If you’re using a wedge and your baby is already pulling himself up, make sure that the mattress is set low enough that he can’t use the wedge to climb out. I also recommend using a video monitor so you can watch him while he is sleeping.
2 Congested Baby Warning Signs
When it comes to your congested baby, there are two major things you should be watching for.
Warning Sign #1: Troubled Breathing
The first thing you want to watch out for is troubled breathing.
Place your ear on your baby’s bare chest. If you hear any rasping sound while he breathes, that’s wheezing. It means the cold has settled into your infant’s lungs and antibiotics may be required to get them clear again. Call your doctor, even if it’s after hours. He may tell you to schedule an appointment for the next day, OR he may tell you to take him to the Emergency Room – but let him make that decision.
Warning Sign #2: Dehydration
The second potentially-dangerous thing you want to be aware of is dehydration. Dehydration is actually the #1 reason babies are admitted to the hospital.
How does that relate to baby congestion? Well, a congested baby isn’t going to eat well, because it’s hard to suck when you can’t breathe through your nose. This change in appetite can increase his chances of not getting enough fluids and becoming dehydrated.
If you are dealing with a congested baby, increase the number of bottles or nursing sessions you have to compensate for the shorter feeding periods. It may be necessary to feed your baby every 30-40 minutes, if necessary, depending on your baby’s age. (The younger the baby, the more frequent the feedings I would offer.)
If your baby hasn’t had a wet diaper in 6-8 hours, call your doctor. She may encourage you to give him a few drops of Pedialyte, so I would have some on hand.
If you see any of these signs, your infant is in the danger-dehydration zone and needs immediate medical attention.
- A sunken soft-spot on the top of his head (easily felt in first 6 months).
- Has a dry mouth or cries without tears. (Remember, newborns don’t have tears yet!)
- Cool skin with blotchy red patches
- A faint pulse that seems too quick
- Breathing rapidly, like he’s run a race
- A feeble whine-cry, rather than a strong wail
- What the doctor’s call “listlessness”. In other words, he has no interest in playing or feeding, doesn’t respond to being held, and isn’t moving his arms or legs much.
- Eyes that appear to be sunken into the skull.
Time to Kick Some Serious Booger Booty
It is completely possible to win the Snot War. You can keep that nose crust-free and build up his cold combat skills at the same time.
- Keep him well-hydrated. (Nurse and bottles frequently throughout the day!)
- Keep his nose as sucked-free as possible.
- Let him breathe in warm medicinal air to open those inflamed nasal passages.
These simple things will allow him to get the rest he needs to attack the cold that’s causing the baby congestion in the first place. You follow these suggestions and he’ll be napping again in no time!
Then again, if he doesn’t start napping better…well we can help with that too! *wink*
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