Zara is absolutely miserable with a bad cold. Actually I suspect she has the flu. She wasn’t a very happy baby Friday and Saturday when we were in Virginia which I easily attributed to being away from home. Saturday during the night she spiked a fever. Don’t you just love that ultimate version of Mom guilt? Hi, we came to visit you and now we have the flu so hopefully we’re only leaving good memories and not germs. Gah.
At any rate, her fever left yesterday, but she’s left with a cough and a nose that erupts like Old Faithful only I’m pretty sure the timeframe is less than every twenty minutes.
I’ve learned a few things about colds in kids in the last ten years and, not surprisingly, I’m still learning. Babies really should come with an instructional manual. About the time Adam was born, they pulled most cold remedies off the shelf. At the time I thought it was pretty unfair. What? They’re just supposed to deal with the symptoms? The past few years I’ve gravitated toward a slightly more holistic approach so I’m not sure exactly where I fit in right now. I mostly know that I scream prevention and still fail to do all of the things I preach. Like the fact that my favorite flu prevention is Vit D consumption and we’ve yet to swallow one dose this year.
So did you know that a cold lasts a very long time (10 days to 2 weeks) and that the peak day is day 5? I didn’t either until Zara was a month old and so sick with a cold that I absolutely could not wake her. We landed in the pediatricians office where she, of course, woke up and appeared more well than she had at home. He said, “Let’s see, this is day 5. That’s usually when we see babies because they keep getting worse and by day 5 parents are nearly panicked.” To be honest, I think I panicked more when she did not have one wet diaper for a period of almost twelve hours and finally put out a few reddish crystals instead of urine on day six. Her pediatrician still wasn’t worried and I finally eeked enough milk into her with a syringe to help her revive enough for a semi-normal feeding and suddenly we saw her eyes again.
So there you have it. Baby is worrisomely sick and it’s day three? You probably need help before she crumps. Day five and it’s bad but respirations are still normal? Hopefully this is as bad as it’s going to get.
But the best thing I learned last winter is that eucalyptus oil does a beautiful job of helping with coughs. Unkers and Vicks have been good friends of ours for years. We slather the kids chests and their feet, then put socks on them when we tuck them in at night. Adam can handle straight Vicks, but Liam’s skin is sensitive so I either use Baby Vicks or put a very thin layer of Vaseline on his chest and then a layer of Vicks. I just about can’t bring myself to put even baby Vicks on a teeny tiny baby’s chest, but I would put it on the soles of their feet. Interestingly, Vicks contains eucalyptus and lavender oil. After reading an article about oils for colds, I decided to try it. The next time Zara got sick, I added 6 drops of eucalyptus oil to our regular warm air humidifier and set it next to her crib. Amazingly, she coughed less when first getting up than she had before she went to bed. Quite unlike the normal wake up and cough and cough and cough types of scenarios that happen normally. I loved it because I wasn’t putting anything strong directly on her skin and I wasn’t using any petroleum products. (Told you I’ve been edging toward the other side.) One of these days I’m going to find a carrier oil we can all use and make my own cough rub.
UPDATE: Soon after posting this, a friend — thanks, Carmen! — with far more experience in essential oils messaged me about eucalyptus oil and said it’s dangerous in babies with epilepsy. Zara is up and gu-rouchy so I need to do more research but two quick links confirm these concerns. In fact, after reading [this article], I wouldn’t even recommend putting Vicks on a baby’s feet. It appears to be more dangerous topically, but is definitely one of those risk way outweighs any potential benefits kind of scenarios and it should not be used in kids under ten. Which makes me very curious why they sell baby Vicks?? So now I’m really serious. What DO you do with your babies? I find it interesting that Zara has more spasms whenever she has a cold whether or not I use oils. For example, I didn’t use anything until last night (not even tylenol) and yet, all day yesterday she showed a significant increase in events. Today is about the same as yesterday, perhaps a little less, but we haven’t hit evening yet either. I’d really like to know causation on colds and spasms for her. But anyhow, this is one more reason why you don’t follow everything you read online. Also, if you’re like me and just learning about EO, here’s where I’m going to begin my education.
The other thing we try to do when colds happen is to cut back on dairy consumption. Because milk based products can thicken phlegm, it stands to reason that they can accelerate the cold to ear infection progression. So we push fluids, just not milk. We haven’t dealt with an ear infection in years. Causation or correlation or just blessed? It’s hard to tell, but I’m grateful.
Aside from an occasional steroid inhaler when Adam younger, we’ve been blessed with garden variety cold symptoms. I know that some of you have tangled with nebulizers and hospitals and far more complicated respiratory issues than we have. I’d love to hear your tips for staying well #washyourhands #washyourhands #washyourhands and what you do to make your kids more comfortable when they develop respiratory infections.