One bright morning in May, I woke up with the baby next to me and realized something horrible. I was trudging along in the new-mommy game and just as I thought I have gained some ground, in came this like a cold bucket of water: my three-month old caught his first cold. Oh my God, I cannot for the life of me understand how or why that felt like the greatest tragedy. I don’t know why I reacted that way but I started crying. I was so very distraught. I didn’t for the life of me understand how or why this happened and I was so inundated with grief for ten minutes that I couldn’t move. After the initial illness I felt like I had things under control– but this cold was evidence of the fact that clearly I was doing it all wrong. The smug feeling that I was nursing my child and so he would never fall sick- that totally evaporated.
After the first ten minutes, adrenalin kicked it. I had to wear my grown-up socks and suck it. Messaged my friend –whose baby is nine months older than mine, and she is quite the Martha Stewart when it comes to many things (Martha without the scam and insider trading of course)– for some hacks and also called my husband who was sleeping in the other room to catch some extra R and Rs. Got a hold of the snot sucker. Here’s a picture:
And got to business.
Googled for tips and tricks like nobody’s business. Read every article under the sun. My searches ran as follows:
‘Three month old baby with cold mother depressed’
I got a ton of shit on post partum depression which I seriously considered I was suffering from. Plus a lot of the tips were for older babies. For babies three months old all you could really do was rub some Vicks on their clothes and put saline spray in their nose.
After sifting through advice from family and friend, a few things worked still do:
- Tank up the Vit C in the first year
Your baby (even if breastfed) will suffer at least one cold a month in his first year. DO NOT worry, this is normal and remember he is working up his immunity. There is however, no doubt that Vit C-rich foods prevent illness and strengthen immunity so look it up. Citrus fruits, kiwis, strawberries, broccoli all carry tons of this precious vitamin. Once your baby is weaned try and give this to him in various ways- chopped up, mashed, juiced.
- Saline to loosen up snot in the nose and snot sucker
This is a magical contraption to suck out snot from your baby’s nose. Yes it sounds very gross but it’s not. Here is a picture. Use it once and you are a believer. Also, when your baby is tiny he will let you do random stuff easily and happily i.e. put saline water up his nose and suck snot. Seventh month onwards and its WAAAARRRRR. Every single time. It’s even tough for two pairs of hands, we have to pin him down with our knees. Don’t ask.
- Garlic burnt in mustard oil rubbed on chest
Heat some mustard oil and in a saucepan and once it’s warm add some chopped garlic. Let it heat up until the garlic is dark brown. Then pull it off the stove and store in a jar. (You can store this for a few months). Let it cool a bit and while it’s still slightly warm apply the teeniest bit on baby’s back and chest. Since my baby was tiny at the time and it was summer I used an extra small amount. But for his winter flu, I used it liberally, plus he was older. This really helps with the congestion and many people use this as a preventive measure.
- Vicks rubbed on the soles of feet
Rub some Vicks on the soles of your baby’s feet and put on socks. This really helps with the middle-of-the-night coughing ad congestion. When I say ‘help’ I mean it won’t get you magical results, but it will certainly let baby and you sleep a little better at night.
- Regular baths
Slightly warm baths help loosen up the mucus from nostrils and help babies breathe better. It keeps them clean and helps rid the infection faster.
- No overheating the baby
I learnt this the hard way. Please don’t do this. Just cuz baby has a cold doesn’t mean he is cold. Don’t bundle up the baby in warm clothes and overheat him and then take his temperature to discover a fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Don’t stress and listen to some soothing music
Again, this is most important. If you are looking after your baby and taking reasonable precautions, don’t beat yourself up when he falls sick. It’s not a reflection on how you are raising your child. If your baby is falling ill very frequently in a particular season or with a particular food, maybe there is an allergy that you need to track down. Also, kindly don’t play doctor yourself and medicate your baby on a whim or suspicion. Take him to a good pediatrician who you have a very good understanding and chemistry with and let him or her make the diagnosis
The remedies/views/opinions/suggestions expressed here are in no way researched and I will not accept responsibility if these cause trouble for you. I am not a physician and don’t claim to be. These are things that have worked for me and I have listed them here largely so I may remember them for the next time around. I’m sorry if I sound a little curt, excuse me. I happen to be married to a lawyer and have some idea how nasty people can get in the courtroom. No one likes to be sued.