How to treat a baby's cold or a toddler's cold symptoms.

How to Survive Your Infant or Toddler’s Cold

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How to Treat Your Infant or Toddler’s Cold

If your child is in daycare, or Sunday school, or goes to the park, or has ever sat in a grocery cart, chances are they’ve caught a cold virus. I’ve seen reports showing kids in daycare get up to ten colds a year. And unless they live in some sort of isolation chamber, even kids not in daycare catch those nasty viruses once in a while.

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Pro Mom Tip: Your baby is going to get a cold at some point. Don’t wait until your entire family is sick and you have to drag yourself and your sick baby to the store before you buy supplies. Stock your medicine cabinet NOW with medicine and supplies for treating your baby’s cold in advance of an illness. Check out the top 5 must-have products in a new mom’s medicine cabinet for treating a sick baby at the bottom of this post. 

By now you’ve probably heard cough and cold medicines are not safe for young children. The potential side effects are serious and the benefits in doubt. So, you do the best you can with the treatment tools you can use.

And chances are good you’ll need some cold remedies for yourself as well. If your child has a cold, yours is probably on its way. For many of us parents, the usual cold remedies are off limits. You can’t zonk out on Nyquil when you have to nurse a baby or wake up with a sick kid every couple of hours.

My family recently came down with a cold. Well, my kids and I. My husband managed to dodge it. But we passed it on to a few other relatives. Sorry, everyone! And I had to bring out my cough and cold survival products. I’ve gathered quite the arsenal over the past couple of years and I’ve got a routine down. Here are some of my best infant and toddler cold survival products and strategies.

Treat infant cold or treat toddler cold virus

Fever Reducer and Pain Medications For a Baby with a Cold & Fever

With your doctor’s approval and dosing recommendation, age-appropriate acetaminophen or ibuprofen for any fevers or body aches are considered safe.

If you have an infant who spits out oral suspension medications, I’ve had great luck with FeverAll’s rectal suppositories. I actually suggest them to all parents of young children. If you’ve tried giving oral suspension medicine to an infant, you know it can be ridiculously hard. Believe it or not, rectal suppositories are actually easier for infants and younger toddlers.

nose drops for baby with a cold or toddler stuffy nose

Nose Drops for Infant & Toddler Stuffy Nose

Saline-based nose drops are wonderful for helping clear out your young child’s nose. A few drops help loosen things up and get the nose running. If that sounds gross, hang on, this is just the beginning of our snot removal gross-outs.

With any luck nose drops will work to clear your kiddo’s nasal passages without any further assistance from you.

snot sucker for infant or toddler with a cold

Nasal Aspirator for Stuffed Up Baby or Toddler with a Cold

Colds are hard on babies and toddlers. Not only do they feel bad, but having a stuffed up nose can make meeting their basic needs almost impossible.

A stuffed up nose makes it hard to sleep, but it also makes it hard to breathe while breastfeeding or taking a bottle. Even their favorite pacifier does more harm than good when they can’t breathe out of their nose.

If you’ve tried nose drops and they aren’t quite cutting it, you need to try a nasal aspirator. I’ve been through several. Here is a rundown of the different types and what I’ve had the most success with.

How to help your baby or toddler when they have a cold. And treat baby cold symptoms safely.

Chances are you received or purchased a first aid kit or some other baby set with a bulb syringe included when your baby was born. Some suggest you use this to clear your child’s nose.

When I tried this my child was shocked and terrified. Not to mention it was less than 100% successful. So I moved on.

There is one nasal aspirator practically guaranteed to get every last bit of snot out of your child’s nose. The Baby Vac Nasal Aspirator actually hooks up to your vacuum hose.

If you’re desperate to help your little one get the snot out and breathe, this thing does work.

On the other hand, my daughter was afraid of the vacuum before I tried this aspirator. After it’s first use her fear turned to sheer terror. But she had the cleanest nose of her life.

For a gentler approach, I like a nasal aspirator that uses mom or dad suction to clear the nasal passages. There is a barrier between the hose you suck on and the snot, so you do not actually get any mucous in your mouth, in case you were concerned.

It can be somewhat gross. But it’s relatively gentle and pretty successful at clearing the nose when you’re baby has a cold. I’m a big fan of this nasal aspirator because it is easy to use and easier to clean than other similar ones I’ve tried.

Nasal aspirators work best if you use them shortly after nose drops or after spending some time in a steamy bathroom to help loosen things up.

humidifier to treat baby with a cold

Humidifier for Toddler or Infant with a Cold

Humidifiers keep the air moist and help loosen up congestion when placed in a child’s bedroom. You can do something similar with a steamy shower in your bathroom, but the humidifier can go all night. As far as being natural, safe and effective, they are hard to beat.

A couple of caveats. Humidifiers keep the air moist, sometimes too much. After running the humidifier for a week or so a while back, we noticed a spot of mold on the wall in the corner of the bedroom.

You want to make sure the room is ventilated and there isn’t water getting trapped anywhere causing mold or damage.

Humidifiers are difficult to clean, but make sure you do it right. Mold can become a problem inside the humidifier if it isn’t dried out and cleaned properly.

Read the directions for your particular machine. Many need to be cleaned a minimum of once a week with soap or vinegar and then allowed to completely dry before re-use.

For children’s rooms, you need a cool mist humidifier rather than warm mist. The concern is a nasty burn from hot steam if your child gets too close to a warm mist humidifier.

Help Baby with a Cold Sleep

One of the biggest issues when baby has a cold is helping them sleep. In addition to using nose drops, a humidifier and a snot sucker, one of the simplest things to do is elevate your baby’s head while they sleep.

Pillows in the crib would create an unsafe sleep environment and increase the risk of SIDS for a young baby, so don’t do that. Don’t add anything to your baby’s sleep area.

All you need to do to elevate your baby’s head to stack a folded towel or two under one end of their mattress, creating a slight elevation. Or you can buy a crib wedge for the same effect.


Baby Wipes, Lanolin & Tissues for Your Sick Baby or Toddler

A combination of baby wipes, lanolin and tissues are your best defense against a runny nose becoming a snotty face.

Baby wipes are the ultimate multi-use product. I use them for cleaning up spills, hands, faces, virtually any kid-related on the go mess. When young kids need a nose blow, a baby wipe, is soft, wet, and won’t cause any chafing under the nose.

I prefer them to actual tissues for nose blows and wipes. There is an actual product for this, Boogie Wipes, that includes saline and is meant for noses. But baby wipes will do in a pinch.

lanolin for baby's cold

Lanolin for Baby’s Raw Nose with a Cold & to Keep Snot Off Your Toddler’s Face

Lanolin is not just for sore nipples anymore, moms! I’ve used it treat wounds on baby’s delicate skin. And as a snot deflector in cases of colds.

Put a little bit of lanolin under your child’s nose, preferably after using nose drops, and as the snot runs out it won’t stick to their sweet little face. It may run into their mouths, but at least they won’t be the kid with snot stuck on their face.

Hydration, Rest, Cuddles & Television for Sick Babies & Toddlers

Hydration is so important when you have a cold. Keeping your little one hydrated helps prevent excessive fluid loss from fevers or vomiting. Proper hydration also helps with congestion.

Make sure your infant is drinking their bottles or breast milk and you’re offering plenty of fluids to your toddler. And make sure you are drinking enough. It’s important to take care of yourself so you can be there for your kids.

Rest & Cuddles for Babies & Toddlers with Colds

Chances are there will be some nighttime waking with cold symptoms. So make sure your child is taking naps and having some quiet time to catch up on sleep.

And the old adage is still true, even if your kid is out of the baby stage. When they nap, you nap. You know you want to! Go lay down!

Let Sick Toddlers Watch TV;)

Television or I guess we’re supposed to call it screen time now, is the number one way to get your toddler to rest.

I know, babies don’t get screen time. But mom and dad can watch it. Just turn your little darling to face you and sit back and rest. You definitely need it. Cold and flu season is not the time for Play Dough and supermom crafts. It’s the time for tv and snuggling with books. Enjoy the extra cuddles and get some rest.

Holding it Together When Your Baby is Sick with a Cold

Having a cough or cold is exhausting. Taking care of a child with a cold is draining beyond all reason. In addition to caretaking, you’re usually doing extra laundry and toy sanitizing, cleaning the humidifier, the nasal aspirator, and the medicine droppers.

Give yourself as many breaks as you can and rest along with your kids. Your whole family can use the break.

And hey, you’ll survive, this only happens ten times a year.

Get My List of the Top 5 Must-Have Products in a New Mom’s Medicine Cabinet for Treating a Sick Baby

To help make all of this a little bit easier I’ve created a list of the must-have products to keep in your medicine cabinet when you have a baby. Fill out the form below to download my checklist of the top 5 must-have products in a new mom’s medicine cabinet for treating a baby with a cold:

Check Out These Other Posts You May Like:

How to Take Care of Kids When You’re Sick

How to Survive When Your Child Isn’t Sleeping Through the Night

Moms’ Picks: Best Big Toys for Little Kids


Treat Baby's Cold


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9 thoughts on “How to Survive Your Infant or Toddler’s Cold”

  1. I am so grateful I found your post, You’ve really covered up almost all the possible tips that a new mom should follow to survive infant or toddlers cold. I got a lot of information from your blog which can help o survive infant or toddlers cold. Thanks.

  2. Oh yes, we (well my kids) have become very familiar with rest, cuddles, and television lately. With two toddlers in daycare, they seem to come home with a fun new virus like every week. Great list, definitely very useful!

  3. It is so hard when littlest get sick. I hate when my son is sick and there isn’t a whole lot I can do but make him feel comfortable. This is a great list of tips. We are huge fans of the warm mist humidifier! We just make sure to keep it up high so my son can’t touch it. It was a game changer with his last cold.

  4. Saline drops, humidifier and nasal aspirator are life savers when dealing with a sick baby! I agree with the tv too, I’m sure when she’s a bit older, it’ll be great for getting her to chill out and rest when sick.

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