As a parent you never want to see your kids sick, especially a baby, but unfortunately it just a reality that most of us have to face. We have to work so a baby will be in daycare, or maybe you have a child who is in school that brings a cold home. No matter what the situation, it is always tough to have a sick little one, but there are ways you can make it easier.
You need to always be prepared because you never know when a baby will start getting sick. You need to have items on hand, and you need to be prepared mentally and physically!
- Be Prepared. You should always be prepared for the worst. There is nothing worse than a baby being sick in the middle of the night and you have no supplies! Many of the things you need will not expire (I will explain many of these items later). It is not just supplies you need though. What if you need to call off from work or go to the hospital? Make sure where ever you work is family friendly and you have transportation. Also have the doctor’s number handy, and maybe even a friend’s number to come help.
- Be Patient! Babies cannot tell use what hurts. Even the doctors have to play a guessing game, so be patient. Sick babies are often very fussy and may be more needy than normal. Cuddle them and comfort them. If they are fussy and you can not get them to calm down, put them down for a few minutes in a safe place such as their crib. NEVER SHAKE A BABY! This can result in severe complications and even death. If it is really bad, call a friend or family member to come help.
- Have an accurate thermometer and petroleum jelly. The most accurate way to take a baby’s temperature is rectally. Make sure you use the petroleum jelly to lubricate the thermometer and only insert the thermometer three quarters of an inch to an inch (2-2.5 centimeters). Make sure to clean the thermometer when you are finished. I personally like this thermometer because it has a gauge so you know just how far to insert it.
- Have Tylenol and Motrin. If you take your baby’s temperature and she has a fever Tylenol and Motrin are great to help bring the fever down. Most doctors do not consider it a fever until it his about 100.8 degrees Fahrenheit, but a baby can be very uncomfortable and just feel bad. You can even give your baby Tylenol or Motrin if you feel he or she is in pain (such as from teething). Only give your baby Motrin if he or she is over 6 months old and always follow dosing directions on the medicine or given to you by your doctor.
- Nasal aspirator. It is nice to have one around the house because you never know when you will need it. As a nurse, I like the regular old bulb syringe. My favorite is this one here because you can take it apart and clean it. I have also heard great things about the NoseFreda. Personally, I have never used it, but I have heard that you can really get good suction.
- Have diaper rash cream. If your little one has diarrhea you want to put something on their little bum to protect it. I personally like A&D or Aquaphor (you can never have too much, and yes, I have the big tub in my house!) as a barrier, and Desitin if they develop diaper rash. If it is too bad, avoid using wipes and head straight for the bathtub or sink and wash them off with warm water and a mild soap. You can even let the your little one go diaper free for a little while (this is easier if she isn’t moving much yet). Lay a blanket or cloth diaper under her. Air is the best thing for diaper rash. I love these cloth diapers because they have many uses and they are really thick!
- Have extra clothes. Depending on what kind of a cold your baby has (see #4), you may need to do a lot of laundry. If she is vomiting and has diarrhea chances are she will need multiple diaper changes and baths throughout the day.
- Have replacement fluids. Remember when I said it would stink to have a baby start getting sick in the middle of the night and you have no supplies? Here is an important one. If your little one has a stomach virus(again, see #4), she may not want to drink her milk. Having something like pedialyte in the house is good for these instances because you can keep her hydrated until you can see a doctor in the morning. I recommend the unflavored for babies, especially if you have not introduced food or juice yet!
- Take care of yourself. I am not saying go out and get pampered and leave your sick baby with grandma or grandpa. I am just saying cover the basics. If you are not taking care of yourself, how can you take care of your baby, plus you don’t want to get sick too. Make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids and eating when you can. If your baby will not let you put her down, have some food you can eat with one hand, such as granola bars. They are better than nothing!
- Understand you may never have and answer. It is frustrating to see your baby sick, even more so when you can’t get answers, but with babies sometimes this happens. Since they can’t tell us what hurts or why they don’t want to eat, it may just have to run its course.
- Prevention is key. The best thing you can do is try to prevent your baby from getting sick in the first place. You can do this by restricting visitors during the flu season (especially if you have a newborn). Make sure anyone who is sick does not come visit and hold the baby, and most important, make sure everyone washed their hands or uses hand sanitizer.
- You may be admitted to the hospital. If you feel the need to visit the doctor, your baby may be admitted to the hospital. Be prepared anytime you take your sick baby to the doctor. As a nurse I see this all the time. A parent takes their sick child to the doctor and they get admitted. The first thing they say is “I didn’t think we would get admitted so I have nothing!” This is okay, most of the time you will be provided with everything you need for your baby (diapers, wipes, bottles, formula) but nothing will be provided for you. Think of it this way, you are taking your baby to the doctor because you are concerned they are not eating, or not breathing well, not having wet diapers and so on, the doctor may want to check her out and make sure she is okay. Just prepare to stay, that way if you do, you have what you need. You don’t have to pack a ton of stuff, just the basics. Pack some sweat pants so you can be comfortable, contact solution and case and glasses if you wear them, and a cell phone charger. This should get you through one night, and if you need more someone can bring it to you or you can go get it.
I hope these tips all help you get through your baby’s first cold. If it is not your baby’s first cold, I hope this will help with the next one!
Do you have any tips to add? How do you deal with a sick baby?
**The information in this article is not meant to replace medical advice. If you believe your baby is dehydrated or having difficulty breathing seek medical care immediately!