Summer in our part of Spain is a truly glorious thing – long days, clear skies, and a pretty bearable 34 C (93 F) maximum temperature. The air’s not too humid, and not too dry, so it’s really pretty rare that someone gets ‘sick’ in Summer. Then we hit mid September… The kids go back to school, the swimming pools are no longer the ‘hub of it all’, and we enter a month of chaos! The temperature drops pretty suddenly, not by much, but enough for you to notice.
All of a sudden, everyone’s sick. In our house, it started with ‘Dad’… Three days in bed, refusing to go to the doctor, but requiring full-time, round-the-clock-care… hmmm…. 😉 unfortunately, those pesky little viruses didn’t stay confined to the room. Soon, everyone was coughing and sniffing, including little miss Sara. Now, the biggest problem is, a baby just doesn’t know how to blow their nose. They can’t wipe their nose when it’s bothering them, and often a child can’t even explain exactly what’s hurting, or how they’re feeling. Being sick must be a terrible experience for a little one…
So, is there anything that you can do apart from the normal advice of ‘paracetamol if they have a fever’, ‘bed rest’ (haha, yeah right!) and ‘lots of liquids’?
If your child is suffering from congestion (which is what took our family down this time…) or a common cold
- Clean your baby’s nasal passage out with saline solution 2 or 3 times per day (if necessary) Then remove the mucus with an aspirator or bulb.
- Get yourself a good-quality nasal aspirator or nasal bulb. The difference is that with the nasal aspirator, you, Mama Bird, suck on the one end… yes, you heard that right. It’s not as gross as it sounds – there are all kinds of valves built into the thing so you don’t need to worry. With the nasal bulb, you need to be very careful to not squeeze air into your baby’s nose. Squeeze all the air out before you place the tip into/against your baby’s nostril. If you’re not sure how to use a nasal bulb, watch the video below.
- Check with your doctor first, but there are a few brands of child-friendly ‘vaporubs’ (Vicks baby, Maty’s Baby Chest Rub etc). Although a back or chest rub alone is not going to cure your child, these can provide comfort and temporary relief.
- Get a humidifier to run in your child’s room while they’re sick. Some people choose to keep them going in their children’s rooms permanently, but that may be due to climate or allergies. A humidifier (Amazon link*) is a great natural decongestant for little nasal passages. Just remember to clean out and sterilize the water tank often, otherwise you could get mold. (At the moment Amazon has this Seneo Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier for the ridiculously low price of $27.99 instead of $99.99 – what a great deal!)
- Whip up one of those great Chicken Noodle Soups that you’re so famous for, and if you don’t have one in your arsenal yet, don’t worry. Here (taste.com) is a great recipe for a simple chicken noddle soup. The warm liquid is comforting, and soup is the perfect way to make sure that your little one still gets in all the nourishment they need, even though they’re probably not going to feel like eating much.
- When bedtime rolls around, it’s important to keeps your child’s head elevated. The best way to do this for really little ‘little ones’ is by putting a flattish pillow underneath their crib mattress. It should only raise the one side of the mattress ever so slightly. This helps your child to breathe better. Older children can use an extra pillow.
- Dish out a great big dose of love and TLC: a very smart doctor once told me it goes a long way towards curing everything!
If your child is suffering with a sore throat
- Honey is your best friend but only if your child is over the age of 1 (Honey can contain spores of a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum, which can germinate in a baby’s immature digestive system and cause infant botulism, a rare but potentially fatal illness.) If your child is over the age of 1, mix a teaspoon of honey with a tespoon of lemon juice and microwave for 10 seconds. Stir nicely then give to your child, little by little. The honey will soothe their sore throat, and the lemon will help with any other cold symptoms. (By the way, this mixture also helps to clear up congestion)
- A natural juice lollie, or yogurt lollie can provide temporary relief from a sore throat, and will definitely get a smile out of your patient, even if it’s only a little one.
- Gargling with salt water is a great way to dis-infect the throat and keep any swelling down. Mix 1/2 a teaspoon of salt with a small glass of water and convince (good luck!) your child to gargle with the mixture every 3 to 4 hours. It doesn’t taste very nice, but it gets the job done nicely!
If your child has a sore tummy
- Chamomile tea is great for settling little bellies. It possesses anti-inflammatory and sedative properties and eases the muscles in the digestive system that cause the spasms which cause tummy cramps.
- Another great trick is to fill a sock with uncooked rice, seal it up nicely and microwave that for a minute or two. Check that the bag is not too hot and then lay it accross your child’s belly. The warmth from the rice will relax the muscles and ease the pain. (This is also good for a stiff neck or a pulled leg-muscle.)
- Have you considered that your kiddo’s tummy could be hurting because of constipation? Then it’s time to follow the C.R.A.P diet for a day or too… it stands for fruits with fiber, to loosen things up, so cherries, raisins, apricots and prunes! Remember, these fruits are small and can be a choking hazard, so for children under the age of four, it’s a good idea to puree the fruits and serve them half a cup a day.
If your child has a bump or bruise
- Gentle flush out the area with ice water or cool chamomile tea. The chamomile has natural anti-inflammatory properties.
- Soak a cloth in cold (preferably iced) water, and add a few drops of lavender oil. then apply this to the bruised area for a few minutes. Lavender reduces swelling, controls bleeding under the skin and has anti-inflammatory properties, so the bruising should be minimized quite a bit.
- Take a hint from those girls at the salon, and grab a cucumber. Yes, it really does help for swelling! Apply thin slices of cold cucumber to a black eye (mom’s of little boys,and girls, know that this happens far more often than anyone likes to admit 🙂 ) to help the swelling go down and to ease the pain. (p.s. it also works a treat for sunburn!)
- Chamomile tea bags soaked in a bit of water and made into a cold compress are also great for bumps and bruises. Just apply to the area, and, if you have a little injured soldier that’s intent on continuing active duty, wrap with a bit of plaster or attach with band-aids so that it stays put for half an hour or so.
When to see a doctor
Of course, it’s fine to contact your doctor whenever you feel concerned, but these are signs that something more serious is going on. If you notice any of the following, get your child to the doctor as soon as possible…
- severe sore throat, sore throat with visible sores or sore throat that lasts for longer than a week
- ear pain, or pulling on their ears if your child is too young to tell you
- vomiting or diarrhea
- very congested cough
- fever above 38 C / 102 F that does not go down after taking fever reducing medication meant for a child
- extreme lethargy
- difficulty breathing
- serious loss of appetite
- unexplained rash on the body, especially when accompanied by fever
Stay healthy everyone!
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