What to Do When Baby is Sick

July 15

asian baby girl laying down sick with fever and cool rag on forehead

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It’s hard enough being a mom, throw a sick baby into the mix and you can just forget about it! As an ER nurse and an mama of two, I don’t freak out when my babies are sick. I know what to do when baby is sick and now so can you!

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor nor am I your nurse. I cannot assess your situation enough to offer medical advice. If you have any concerns about your baby’s health, you should consult your physician. I am not liable for information included on this blog and cannot guarantee results. This post is for informational purposes only.

Lots of rest

baby boy leaning back on pillow in bed with a lovey, resting because he is sick

Imagine when you are sick. Do you want to go out and party, or do you want to snuggle up in bed with a comfy blanket and some Netflix?

Well, babies are little humans too. They don’t feel up to going to the park or playing at the an indoor playground all day. They may think they want to, but their bodies will tell them “oh heck no!”

Point is, they get tired faster. Your baby that dropped his morning nap last month might all of a sudden want to get some extra shut-eye.

Take it slow and easy. Don’t pack the day with tons of errands. Let them nap more or sleep in if need be (even if it messes with their sleep schedule).

SLEEPING=HEALING!

When we sleep our bodies are able to more efficiently get rid of the virus and heal.

Help sick babies breathe better

sick baby laying down with nasal aspirator to nostril

One of the worst parts about baby being sick is the fact that they have such a hard time breathing through all those boogies.

It is my least favorite part of my babies being sick. It is almost unbearable listening to that plugged up breathing.

Babies are ‘obligate nose breathers’ meaning they primarily breath through their noses. So when it’s all stuffed up, they have to breath through their mouths. They aren’t really used to that kind of breathing so naturally, they are uncomfortable.

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Best Products for baby’s nose when sick:

Boogie wipes:

Boogie Wipes apparently have magical powers!

No, seriously. That gunky stuck booger you can’t seem to reach just slides out with one or two swipes of this wonderful wipe!

I really don’t understand how it works as well as it does. And, NO, diaper wipes are NOT the same, I’ve tried.

It is also soothing to their sensitive little noses, and won’t make it all red and raw.

I absolutely love this stuff and buy them for all my pregnant friends!

Oogiebear:

At first it seems like you won’t need the Oogiebear, but when your baby has a thick piece of boogie in their nose that is just out of reach and the q-tip just keeps sliding right past it, you will be thankful that you have this wonderful item.

Apparently I have a problem. . . I’m a bit obsessed with picking. Picking noses, picking splinters, picking pimples.

So when my baby has a booger in his nose, I can’t just leave it be. Needless to say, this product just helps me feel better.

These next products work best on wet boogies so use saline drops or spray as needed before hand.

The Nose Frida:

If you think this is way too gross, skip down to the next item down. It will be more your style.

The Nose Frida tends to be a very controversial item. Either you LOVE it and can’t live without it, or you think it’s the most disgusting thing anyone has ever come up with.

Either way, it works great. It takes some practice, and for me I had to pretty much sit on my kid to get his to do it, but when you get the hang of it, it’s worth the trouble.

Just be sure to breathe out completely right before you start so you have the most suction power from your lungs. And don’t pass out from too much sucking! If you get lightheaded, take a break!

Occobaby Nasal Aspirator:

This Occobaby Nasal Aspirator is SO AWESOME! For those of you that get seriously grossed out by baby snot close to your mouth, this is a lifesaver!

This comes with a small manual nose sucker too just in case.

When you use it you have to make sure you block the other nostril with your finger completely and hold the aspirator firmly onto the open nostril so that it is blocked as well. I use the widest tip (the one with the biggest opening). I find it works the best.

Use it in NO LONGER than 5-10 second bursts and give baby a break in between suctioning.

They can’t breathe well when you are blocking off both their nostrils.

Innovo Twister Bulb Syringe:

The good old nasal aspirator with a twist! The Innovo Twister Bulb Syringe is SEE THROUGH and easy to clean!

These work really well at getting the deep snot but the problem with the original kinds is that they are impossible to clean. This one solves that problem.

If you want to get those deep ones out, squeeze the bulb syringe and hold it, completely block one nostril with your finger, stick it in the other nostril (deep but not too deep- you don’t want to feel resistance), and let go of the squeezing. Make sure to hold the other nostril closed until you are done.

Then repeat as necessary.

Hydrate them inside and out

Keeping sick baby hydrated

asian baby girl sitting up drinking from a bottle to stay hydrated when sick

Sometimes when your child is sick, they lose their appetite for a few days. As long as they are still drinking and staying hydrated, there is no need to panic.

Make sure you always have something for them to drink. You don’t have to force feed them, but offer it to them often, very often.

They need to have tears when they cry and normal amounts of wet diapers as well in order for them to be considered ‘hydrated’ by medical staff. If it lasts longer than a few days, consult your doctor.

If your baby is less than 6 months old DO NOT GIVE THEM WATER! You can make them VERY sick.

If your baby is between 6 months to a year, make sure water is offered in small amounts. Milk is the liquid of choice.

Keeping sick baby’s environment ideal:

Humidifier

You want snot to be as runny as possible so you can get it out. In order to help this along, use a humidifier!

You will be surprised how well it works. I like to put it relatively close to where my babies sleep so that they get the full benefits of it.

I like the Homech Quiet Ultrasonic Humidifier

It’s quiet, easy to clean, holds a lot of water, lasts a long time, is easy to refill, AND it’s so sleek and pretty! Checks all my boxes!

Keep them clean

baby playing with bath toy while taking a bath in the sink

Baths

Baths have multiple benefits for baby when they are sick:

  1. Keeps them clean: Baths wash off all those nasty germs they have been drooling, sneezing, coughing, and snotting out.
  2. Helps them to relax and increases their comfort: Most babies love bath time, even when they are sick. The water has a soothing effect on the body. Add in some nice, mild smelling soap (maybe with some lavender in it) to soothe them even more.
  3. Brings down the temperature: You should be doing luke-warm baths when baby has a fever. These help to gradually bring down their temp.
  4. Moistens their airway: Baths bring humidified air into babies nasal passages and lungs, helping them clear out all the gunk more easily. Less gunk, less germs, more comfort.

Hand washing:

I know it sound weird to ‘wash your baby’s hands’ but it’s kinda necessary. You don’t have to soap and water it every time, a diaper wipe will suffice.

I like to just do a quick wipe down every once in a while to keep them from being covered in germy snot constantly. I wipe their lower face, arms, and hands with a wipe or wash them up in the sink real quick.

You don’t want them sucking on their already germ ridden hands reinfecting themselves over and over again if I can help it.

Treat the Fever

Treating the fever is technically not hard, it’s just tiring and pretty much non-stop. That’s the challenge. But if you know what you need to do, half the battle is over.

Cooling measures:

Start with what us medical folks like to call cooling measures. Basically everything you do other than give medications while baby has a fever.

  1. Uncover baby: a light sheet and a onesie will suffice. The fever will not get better if you are insulating it in with blankets and zip-up long sleeve onsies.
  2. Tepid/cool washcloths to head and upper torso (upper back and chest): this will gradually bring down the temperature. The upper torso is where a lot of heat is stored so focusing on these areas is best.
  3. Give cool liquids: Cool, not warm milk (if they will take it), water, diluted juice, popsicles if they are old enough. Just avoid really warm liquids.

You always want to start with these cooling measures and if you need to start giving medications as well, continue to use cooling measures along with the meds.

Medications:

baby girl laying down taking medicine orally from syringe

Tylenol

Tylenol can be given every 4 hours. This is the ONLY fever reducing medication you will be giving if your baby is under 6 months old.

You can keep track of it on a sheet of paper posted near the medication cabinet, on a notepad on your phone, or what I like to do is set a timer on my phone that I just reset ever time I give it.

Motrin

NOT FOR BABIES UNDER 6 MONTHS OF AGE!!!

Only give Motrin if your baby is OVER 6 months old. You can give this every 6 hours.

Keep track like you would the Tylenol.

Check out my sick baby schedule to take all the thinking out of caring for your sick baby. It also has the medication simplifying tip I use to keep babies medicated without over medicating them.

Giving medication:

A good gentle trick that gets older babies to take their medicine (as long as the medicine tastes good) is to use these cocktail straws.

I cut them in half and stick them right into the medicine cup so it looks like a mini version of a cup and straw.

It works great for older babies and toddlers that can drink from a straw! My babies LOVE taking medicine like this!

If they won’t drink their medicine like this, your best bet is the regular syringe method (and holding down if need be).

What Other Products to Use When Baby is Sick:

These products are mainly for comfort.

Natural Vicks Alternative:

My baby and my toddlers’s chest gets Maty’s All Natural Baby Chest Rub slathered all over it.

This one is menthol free so it is safe for baby’s skin. It really seems to help soothe them. Of course, it HAS to smell good or I will NOT use it. It really does smell AMAZING!

Natural Vicks Substitute:

This Maty’s All Natural Vapor Rub is a great nautal substitute for Vicks Vapo Rub.

This product uses eucalyptus and peppermint instead of menthol (like Vicks does), so it is better for your babies.

What not to forget to do when baby is sick? Give lots of hugs and love.

mom laying and cuddling sleeping baby

Your baby doesn’t feel well. It is totally normal for them to be extra clingy and want to cuddle or breastfeed more.

If they feel better and are less stressed, their bodies will heal faster.

So give them the extra love that they need at this time.

I know you are exhausted, and have been sleeping even less than usual. Heck you probably feel a little sick yourself. But if you can just push through for a little bit longer, your baby will get better faster.

Don’t be afraid to throw out the normal ‘rules’ when baby is sick. It’s okay if they don’t want to sleep by themselves. It is okay if they aren’t eating as much as usual. It’s okay if they don’t want to play as much outside and want to sit with the Netflix Nanny more than usual.

You won’t be instilling bad habits, you are just trying to get through this rough patch. Everything will go back to normal when your baby feels better.

You can do this, Mama! Keep calm and just do what needs to get done. And remember, the ER is always open if you need some more help. Don’t let anyone bully you into not going if you feel like you need to go.

YOU KNOW YOUR BABY BEST!

Don’t forget to check out my post How I Stay Happy Without Self-Care as Mommy for tips on how to take care of yourself while you are taking care of your sick baby.

All the love,

-Jen

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