How to Treat Cold and Flu in Newborns
Newborn Cold Information
Cold and flu season is upon us, and it’s time to get smart about protecting yourself and your newborn baby. You’ll want to be extra careful from December to February, the peak time for colds and the flu.
Most people are surprised to learn that sickness is usually spread by you touching something (viruses live for many hours on counters, toys, escalator handrails, etc.) rather than by droplets in the air. Doorknobs, in fact, are crawling with germs. You enter the house, then unconsciously rub your eye or nose, and you may have just set yourself up…to get sick!
Steps to Protect Your Newborn from Catching a Cold
Here are a few practical tips to keep sneaky germs away from your precious newborn.
Wash your hands…a lot! It’s your best defense and especially effective if you wash immediately upon returning home from public places. Regular soap does the trick. (Don’t use antibacterial soap, it contains harsh chemicals.) But do scrub a good bit…friction helps to knock the bugs off your skin. (How to teach kids to wash their hands...the right way!)
Watch what you touch. Try not to touch public handles and doorknobs that many others touch.
Avoid crowds. It’s fine to go out with your baby, but avoid crowds where there may be coughing/sneezing.
Reduce visitors. With a newborn, it’s important to reduce your guests to very close family/friends and people who will help you cook or clean.
Limit little visitors. Keep little kids out of your house as much as possible. They carry more colds!
Manage visitors this way. Hang a sign outside your door telling all visitors to immediately wash their hands and slip an oversized T-shirt over their clothes—keep a stack of clean ones by your front door—before they hug you and cover you with the germs that are glommed on their hands/clothes from their kids at home.
Breastfeed if you can. Infants who are breastfed are less vulnerable to infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But if your child does fall ill, you’ll want to make sure they gets the rest they needs to kick their cold quickly. (Learn some of my newborn sleep tips.)
Newborn Cold: How Can I Help My Congested Baby Sleep?
Use any of the following to help your newborn sleep more comfortably, even if they are congested. And remember to avoid using over the counter baby cold medicine:
Nose Washers. An odd but effective little remedy for the common cold in babies: Collect some breastmilk from your nipple with an eyedropper, then tip back your baby’s head and put a drop or two into his nostrils. Breastmilk contains antibodies that can fight off colds! (No breastmilk? Use a saline nose wash.)
Nose Suckers. Babies only like to breathe through the nose, so thick boogers can make them go ballistic. To clear the nose of mucus, I suggest first swaddling with the arms securely down, then putting a drop of your breastmilk or saline nose drops (sold at any drug store) in one nostril, and then using a nose sucker/nasal bulb syringe, to extract the water…and loosened mucus. (Then, repeat on the other side.)
Humidifiers. Cool mist humidifiers are a must-have to keep mucous loose—especially if you live in a dry climate or high altitude. Remember to use distilled water and clean your humidifier.
Check out my Cold, Flu, and RSV Toolkit for Babies for even more advice.
Final Thoughts: Newborn Cold Treatments and Prevention
The easiest and best way to prevent your newborn catching a cold or flu is to use the preventative measures listed above. However, at some point, your little angel is bound to catch a bug, so be prepared with safe and natural cold remedies that you can use to treat your newborn’s cold.
More Cold and Flu Season Advice
- Fever in Babies—What Parents Should Know
- Winter Care Tips for Newborns
- Pain Reliever Guide for Babies
- Pink Eye in Babies and Toddlers
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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.