Babies commonly get six to eight colds per year. Comfort a sick baby by using saline nasal spray with suction, increasing humidity, giving warm fluids, heaving them sleep on an incline and using medications for pain and fever as advised by your pediatrician.
Babies commonly get six to eight colds per year. Comfort a sick baby by using saline nasal spray with suction, increasing humidity, giving warm fluids, heaving them sleep on an incline and using medications for pain and fever as advised by your pediatrician.

When your baby is sick, it's miserable for everyone. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for babies to have six to eight colds a year, and the average cold can last up to three weeks.

You may spend a lot of time comforting a sick baby in your child's early years. Whether your child is on antibiotics or you're just waiting for a cold to run its course, there are some measures you can take to soothe a sick baby.

Easing a stuffy nose

If a stuffy nose is making your baby miserable, here are some home remedies that can help.

Saline Nasal Spray With Suction

You can buy over-the-counter saline nasal spray or drops. Use one to two drops or sprays per nostril to help loosen the mucus. Then, use a suction bulb to suck out the loosened mucus.

To use the suction bulb, squeeze it, gently insert the tip into your child’s nostril, and slowly let go. This will clear out your baby's nose and make it easier to breathe.

Increase the Humidity

Increasing the humidity in the air can ease your baby's stuffy nose by preventing mucus from drying up inside their nasal passages. You can put a cool-mist humidifier by your baby's crib but out of their reach.

Clean it often to prevent mold and bacteria from growing inside it. If you don't have a humidifier, you can sit in the bathroom with your baby while a warm shower is running.

Soothing a sore throat and cough

Some helpful ways to make your child's cough or sore throat feel better at home include the following.

Honey

Never give honey to a baby under the age of one because it can have bacteria that are dangerous to babies. If your baby is aged over one year, you can give them one teaspoon of honey to help with a sore throat and cough. You can also mix two tablespoons of honey in a glass of warm water or tea for your child to drink.

Sleeping on an Incline

Your child's cough may be caused by a postnasal drip — which is mucus dripping down the back of their throat. Sleeping with their head elevated may help with this, but you should only do this with children older than one. For babies younger than one year, let them sleep flat on their backs without any pillows or blankets in their crib. 

Menthol Rubs

This is an option if your baby is over two years old. Rub a thick layer of the mentholated rub on your child's chest and throat area.

Your child will breathe in the vapors — which will help with their cough. Make sure to keep the medicine out of your child's reach. 

Warm Fluids

It's important for your child to stay hydrated when they're sick. By giving your child warm fluids to drink, you can soothe their sore throat and increase their fluid intake.

Apple juice and lemonade are good choices for babies over three months old. If your baby is three to twelve months old, give them one to three teaspoons of these fluids up to four times daily for a cough.

Treating fever

In many cases, fever may be helpful to your sick child. Fever slows the growth of bacteria and viruses and boosts your baby's immune system function. It's a sign of your child's body fighting off an infection.

If your baby is uncomfortable, you can treat their fever with over-the-counter medication.

Infants

If your baby is under 3 months old and has a fever, always call their pediatrician immediately, even if they have no other symptoms.

Children Under Two Years Old

If your baby is under two years old, call the pediatrician before you give them medication. With your pediatrician's approval, give them medication with only one ingredient — either ibuprofen or acetaminophen.   

Children Over Two Years Old

Give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen according to the package directions. Weight is a more accurate measure for dosing, but if you don't know your child's weight, you can go by their age.   

Precautions

Keep the following precautions in mind when giving your child medicine for fever:

  • Never give your child aspirin because it has been linked to Reye syndrome — a rare but serious disease that affects the brain and liver
  • Don't give ibuprofen to babies under 6 months old
  • Don't give ibuprofen to children who are vomiting or having trouble drinking enough fluids to stay hydrated
  • Ask your doctor for the appropriate dose — usually in milliliters. Carefully measure it out using a syringe, medicine cup, or measuring spoon labeled with milliliters

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Medically Reviewed on 8/19/2021
References
SOURCES:

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta: "How to Comfort Sick Kids at Home."

Healthychildren.org: "Caring for Your Child’s Cold or Flu."

Pediatrics: "Fever and Antipyretic Use in Children."

Riley Children's Health: "Sick Child Basics."

Seattle Children's: "Cough (0-12 Months)."

University Hospitals: "What to Do For Your Baby's Stuffy Nose."