Your eyes pop wide open. Yep. There it is again. Your heart sinks and a little groan slips out. An infant cold cough echoes through the monitor.
Racing into the nursery, you are greeted by a tiny face smeared with snot. She snuffles, sniffles, and then begins to wail. It’s official. The Infant Cold War has begun.
How to Conquer an Infant Cold
Here are the three effective battle strategies required to win the Infant Cold War:
- Use smart OTC infant cold remedies to ease your baby’s symptoms and encourage him to keep eating.
- Take a hard look at your baby’s environment and make tweaks to set the scene for a swift recovery.
- Make room for extra cuddle time and snuggles.
Those are the general plans for war, sure, but the most effective strategies need to be specific! Here are the details on how to put those goals on paper and make for the high-ground.
Bring Out the Calvary:
12 Effective OTC Infant Cold Remedies
Let’s say you’ve exhausted your homemade infantry, but that mucus snot keeps flowing. The cold is all angry and amped up, now. It knows what you’re trying to do, and it doesn’t like the resistance.
It’s a stalemate.
Now. Now’s the time you launch a hidden weapon: your over-the-counter infant cold treatments. Arm up with the items below, or risk having to run for reinforcements (i.e. CVS Pharmacy) at 3am in the morning.
4 Allies Against the Infant Cold Cough
Since one of the most heart-wrenching symptoms of an infant cold is the cough, I thought this would be the best place to start. After all, a coughing baby is NOT a sleeping baby (or a sleeping mama, for that matter). The sooner we calm down that raging throat, the faster the Infant Cold War will reach a satisfying victory.
4 Warriors Against the Nasty Nose Crusties
Not only do you have to win a victory over that terrible cough, there’s a new strata of yellow crystals forming on your infant’s upper lip.
The key to chipping away at this geological wonder is to get ahead of the
water snot-fall. Don’t try to win this fight with regular Kleenex, it’s not going to work. You’ll need moist toilettes to wash those fossils away. In this case, Boogie Wipes are worth the investment. Here are the four Snot Warriors that I heartily recommend keeping in your medicine cabinet.
4 Other Infant Cold-Fighting Heroes
to Have Around the House
We’ve crashed against the cough and cracked off a few crusties, but there are a few other items I recommend having at the War Council. They are an invaluable part of your infant cold fighting posse.
Here Comes the Infantry:
8 Homemade Infant Cold War Strategies
Now that you’ve identified that there are enemy combatants dug into your little one’s sinuses, what do you do about it? How do you force them to move along?
Let’s begin with your infantry: your homemade infant cold remedies.
If you consider yourself a crunchy all-natural type of mama, these remedies are going to be right up your alley. That said, if you prefer the straight-strict-science type of treatments, I’d skip to the next section. 🙂
Increase the Liquids
A sick baby needs a LOT of fluids. Remember, dehydration is the number one hospitalizer of babies under 1 year old, so breastfeed on demand, keep a bottle formula nearby.
Since his nose is currently log-jammed, he’s not going to chug-a-lug like he normally does. It’s more likely he’s going to sip a little, then rest miserably, only to repeat the process 45 minutes later. Not only will the fluids help fight that infection, the extra antibodies in the breastmilk are a big booster to his over-worked immune system.
If your baby isn’t breastfeeding (which is okay!), perhaps consider giving Kabrita Goat’s Milk Formula a try. Not only has goat’s milk curd been proven to be easier to digest than regular cow’s milk, studies like this one (and this one) have shown that the oligosaccharides in goat’s milk have anti-inflammatory and anti-infective qualities, which is good for a baby trying to overcome a nasty cold!
Oh, and btw, even though Kabrita Goat’s Milk Formula is listed as a “toddler” formula, I’ve heard straight from the
horse’s goat’s mouth* that it’s perfectly healthy for babies 6 months and older who are also eating solid foods.
*That mouth belonged to Kabrita’s staff nutritionalist, who has a doctorate in Nutrition and Dietetics.
Give Groot a Try
Unfortunately, this remedy doesn’t involve a 12-foot-tall man-tree rocking your baby in his boughs while you steal some extra snoozes. (Take a minute and appreciate how awesome that would be…)
No, this Groot is used as a skin-rub on your baby’s feet and chest. Break out the blender and make a delicious paste of ¼ cup coconut oil and 6 peeled garlic cloves. You can store it in a glass jar in the fridge for 6 months. (Here’s why garlic is said to be so helpful in fighting colds.)
Yes, it’s going to smell terrible, but at least you’ll know your baby is safe from vampires while he recovers!
Try the Old Onion-in-a-Sock Trick
In yet another olfactory offensive move, slip large slices of onions into your baby’s socks (or a sibling’s socks) when your baby goes to bed. Like most home remedies, science isn’t sure this is a clear winner…but a desperate mama will try just about anything, right?
An Apple Cider Vinegar a Day…
According to Organic Authority, apple cider vinegar helps to alkalize your body, which balances your natural pH. This may help your body drive away those invading germs.
Surprisingly, *sarcasm* your baby will not be a huge fan of tipping back the vinegar. What’s your solution?
- Soak two washcloths in a mixture of one part raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar and two parts water.
- Wring out the washcloths (so they don’t drench your baby).
- Place one on the forehead (if there’s a fever) and one on the tummy.
Repeat this process every 10 minutes if there’s a fever present.
Pick Up Some Bishop’s Weed
Bishop’s Weed isn’t something you roll up and smoke. (HA! Made you read!)
It’s actually a spice, common in Indian cooking. It’s also called carom seed or ajwain and you can buy it here. This spice has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties that can help alleviate congestion, fever, and a sore throat. It has also been found to help loosen up mucus so it can be coughed out of the body.
- Dry roast one tablespoon of the seeds in a pan with 2 garlic cloves.
- Let them cool slightly and put in a muslin cloth, sealed with a rubber band to make a sachet.
- Tuck the sachet under the crib sheet so he can breathe it in without touching.
Get Out the Ginger
Ginger is another one of those power-foods that have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and antitussive (coughing) properties.
That’s a lot of “Anti’s”. I guess that’s okay, since we’re at WAR, but it’s pretty aggressive-sounding, so let me balance things a little with a very good PRO: Your baby won’t smell like a compost heap.
No garlic. No onions. No vinegar.
- Place 6 cups of water, ½ cup thinly sliced ginger, and 2 cinnamon sticks on the stove.
- Simmer for 20 minutes, then strain and let cool completely.
- Add a little sugar for sweetness (honey is not recommended for babies under 1 year) and slip a little into a sippy cup of juice or formula several times a day until your baby recovers.
Stick in a Sponge Bath
A nice warm sponge bath is a great way to reset the Fussy Clock for babies when they don’t feel well. There they all, screaming and miserable, when all of the sudden there’s this new weird wet sensation! What is this?! I should explore more…
Yep, a warm sponge bath is a great secret weapon in your infant cold combat. Top it off with a nice lavender massage and your baby will forget about the evil booger monsters living in his nose.
Colonel Mustard. In the Nursery. With the Garlic Press.
Bumps ‘n Baby has an interesting homemade infant cold remedy using mustard oil. Here’s what they recommend…
- Measure out about ¼ cup of mustard oil and heat it over medium heat on the stove.
- Crush two garlic cloves lightly, chopping them roughly and adding them to the mustard oil.
- Watch carefully, removing the pan once the garlic turns brown. (Don’t let it burn!)
- Pour the concoction into a small squeeze bottle and use it to rub on your baby’s chest and feet.
For an extra boost, toss in a tablespoon of ajwain to toast on the stove. (See “Bishop’s Weed” above.)
Your Nuclear Option:
Heading to the Doctor
I hear you, sister.
What happens if you’ve used up all your infantry in the past week and your calvary is still not breaking through? Well then, I would recommend breaking out the Big Red Button and inputting your nuclear codes.
It’s time to call the doctor.
If your baby is younger than 3 months, call your doctor as soon as you suspect a cold. Your newborn’s immune system is still developing, so it would be easy for this Infant Cold War to develop into new battlefields. Your doctor will want to know about these enemy movements right away.
For babies who are over 3 months, here are some signs that you need to call your physician:
- You notice a decline in the number of wet diapers per day.
- She has a fever higher than 100.4º F (38º C).
- He has red eyes, or is waking up with yellow/green gunk in his eyes.
- He seems to have trouble breathing. (Forget the doctor’s office, if this is happening, call 911.)
- She has a persistent cough.
- The snot has turned green and has been around for a few days.
- He has started vomiting or has diarrhea.
Winning the Infant Cold War
With Gentle Patience
Having a sick baby is not fun.
- He wants to be held. NO, HE DOESN’T!
- He wants to be left alone. NO, HE DOESN’T!
- He’s hungry. NO, HE ISN’T!
On and on and one, going back and forth, with a tiny master who refuses to be pleased.
Just remember, he’s only been on this earth for a few months, and this is likely the first time he’s felt “off”. He simply doesn’t know how to handle feeling this terrible!
Set your mind on the long-term (it won’t always be this way), and be determined to stick through this infant cold with a smile on your face. He needs those extra hugs, even if he pretends he doesn’t.
He won’t be sick forever. In a few days/weeks and that smiling happy cherub will be back and you’ll forget you fought this exhausting Infant Cold War in the first place.
And then…then the world will be peace again.
Have You Read These Yet?
- An Important (Gag-Free) Baby Poop Color Chart
- A Simple Ninja Hack to Overcome Your Toddler’s Fever
- The Dirty Truth About Germs and 5 Easy Ways to Prevent Them
- How to Decipher the Baby Cough Code: Easy Clues to Follow
- Everything a New Mama Warrior Needs to Know About Baby Care
We ♥ Citations
All About Baby Allergies. Parents.com
Infants and Allergies: What Should Parents Watch For? EverydayHealth.com
Colds in Babies. BabyCenter.com
Common Cold in Babies. MayoClinic.org
Cold Remedies for Infants. Way2GoodLife.com
The Apple Cider Cold Remedy You Need to Know About. OrganicAuthority.com
Ajwain: Carom Seeds. Everything You Need to Know About This Spice. TheSpruce.com
Home Remedies for Colds and Coughs in Babies. Top10HomeRemedies.com
Heather is the Chief Encouragement Officer here at MightyMoms.club and has been writing and encouraging parents online since 2007. She’s a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach, has been a featured parenting expert writer on blogs like DaveRamsey.com, SimpleKids.net, Cafe Mom, and others. If it’s 2am and you’re desperate to read SOMETHING, check out her deepest darkest secrets, including why she really shouldn’t be allowed to blog.