How (not) to treat a cold

This Kings Drive family is currently battling a cough-and-cold type of bug.

Hubby and Toddler Boy seem to be over the worst of it, but Baby Boy and I are still afflicted. I thought I’d document what has and hasn’t worked for us so far, in order of ease of treatment..


As a fully grown adult who is neither growing a human being inside him nor feeding one entirely from his own body, Hubby’s been free to dose himself up to the eyeballs with Lemsip and the like. Hey, if you have no medical restrictions, knock yourself out – dose up and be grateful that you can!

Toddler Boy (age 2)

He can’t have any real medication, but we’ve had great results using a combination of:

  • children’s  ibuprofen (we use Nurofen)
  • baby vapour rub that we put on his chest and back, and
  • a few drops of Olbas oil on a muslin tied above the bed.

Make sure it’s the children’s versions of all of these though, the ones we use say they are safe from three months old. The adult versions of vapour rub/Olbas have some ingredients that are too strong for small children.
Toddler Boy’s cold has been quite manageable this time around, with the worst of it over in two to three days.

Me (breastfeeding mum)

Breastfeeding Baby Boy means I can’t use my usual cough and cold go-to medication: Otrivine nasal spray for the congestion and Lemsip for everything else.

So I’ve been stuck with:

  • Gargling salt water – didn’t do much. Maybe because I hated it and therefore didn’t do it more than once though.
  • Paracetamol – tried this last night and I think it did actually help more than a hot drink alone! So I’ll be giving it another go tonight.
  • Hot drinks – herbal/fruit teas, hot Ribena, even plain hot water!
  • Blowing my nose a lot, to state the obvious 🙂
  • Sleeping upright – mainly because I was trying to keep Baby Boy upright as much as possible, but on the few occasions when I had the opportunity to lie down properly I would get congested and bunged up as soon as I was horizontal so it soon became a preference!

Baby Boy (newborn, four weeks old)

Well, the powers that be basically say not to give him anything but breastmilk. Due to the difficulties in proving conclusively that a drug is safe for babies (without any unethical testing on babies) they pretty much all say they can’t be given to little ones or breastfeeding mums.

Disclaimer: what follows is what I’ve done for my child based on what I feel comfortable with, as a mother. I am not a medical professional, nor am I recommending that you do this for your child – seek professional advice if required, do your research and do what you feel comfortable doing for your child given those inputs, as some of the things below go against the standard advice of the medical community.

  • Keep him upright as much as possible. This means he has spent a few nights sleeping on my chest either in our big bed with me propped up with lots of pillows against the headboard, or on my comfy nursing chair with my feet up on the footstool. Note: it is recommended that you NOT fall asleep with your baby on a sofa/bed/chair due to the risk of suffocation/SIDS. I had no choice here as he was too congested to sleep in his cot for long.
  • Tilt his cot, when he does lie down in it, to elevate his head. We’re using the NCT Bednest crib which is designed to support tilting by adjusting the legs. Even then he can’t sleep in it for long with a blocked up nose. I have been breaking the rules further by putting him in there on a pillow that I fold into a wedge, for extra elevation. He’s much more comfortable on this and I only do it for his daytime sleeps when I can keep an eye on him. Pillows are not recommended in cots due to the risk of suffocation/SIDS.
  • Steam inhalation – I run the shower on hot water for a few minutes till the bathroom is steamy, then we sit in it for 5-10 mins and breathe through the steam. It usually helps to loosen any mucus in his nose, enough that it starts to run a bit.
  • Saline spray – also helps to loosen up the muck, but he doesn’t like it.. At all!
  • Clearing the muck out from his nose with folded tissue or cotton pads, or a Q-tip/cotton bud. It is not recommended to put a Q-tip into a baby’s nose (or ear). However I have used them when the mucus is almost out of his nose but hanging out right in the tip, and at this stage he is not moving so much that he could get it stuck or cause it to hurt his nose. I start off with tissue or cotton wool where possible but sometimes it needs the structure of a Q-tip to get enough traction to tease out all the gunk.

And that’s it! Hopefully we’ll all be right as rain in another couple of days.

Penny for your thoughts:

Anything on here that stood out, for you? Do you also break the rules a bit when dealing with a sick baby? Do you have other remedies for your family which aren’t listed here? Comment and share!

x Michelle


One thought on “How (not) to treat a cold

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s