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How to help babies and children with Coronavirus

With the news full of stories of Covid-19 we are so grateful to hear that children seem to be able to pass through this illness with relatively mild symptoms in the majority cases. Many of the children that have caught Coronavirus have displayed common cold symptoms such as a temperature and cough and then recovered fully in a relatively short period of time which is welcome news for all the concerned parents out there.

Even without the threat of Coronavirus, colds are more common around this time of year and they can be a real nuisance for you and your baby, especially when it comes to sleeping. Your baby can be more irritable when they’re struggling with a cold and even simple things like feeding and sleeping become much more difficult than normal.

Babies generally breathe through their noses so a blocked nose can make them uncomfortable and unhappy very quickly. They also have relatively narrow nasal passages so they get blocked easier than ours and it’s almost impossible for babies to clear them on their own. This can cause problems when they’re lying down and they’re more likely to wake up during the night and find it harder to settle. Thankfully, there’s a few things you can do to help alleviate cold and flu symptoms and help your baby to sleep easier.

Work on clearing their airways

The best way to help your little one sleep with a cold is to try to clear their airways. There are a number of ways you can do this – some methods are stranger than others! One old school remedy is to place half an onion next to the head of your baby’s cot. The onion juices will evaporate into the air and can help to clear their airways, allowing them to breathe easier at night. One thing to be careful of is if your child is at an age where they can reach and grab the onion. If they’re old enough to do so, put it in a child-proof container with air holes instead.

Alternatively, you could also try using a humidifier to help clear your baby’s airways. This is especially effective when used with an essential oil that has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties like eucalyptus or tea tree oil to help with congestion. A humidifier can also help to soothe a cough by moistening the air your baby is breathing. A similar remedy is to give your baby a warm bath before bed or to try showering with your baby – the steam can help to unblock their noses, open their airways and give them a better night’s sleep.

Avoid medication in favour of natural remedies

When your baby has a cold, your first reaction might be to reach into your medicine cabinet or head to the pharmacy. However, most common cold medications are not suitable for children under the age of 4 and decongestants should not be used for children under 2. It is especially important not to give your child Ibuprofen if they are showing symptoms of Coronavirus as this can make the symptoms worse. If in doubt then choose Paracetamol based products such as infant Calpol to bring down a fever. There are also lots of alternative ways to help clear your baby’s airways that are safe for their developing body.

One of the best methods is using a saline nasal spray or saline drops, available from most pharmacies or department stores. Saline solution is gentle on your baby’s delicate nose and can help to keep it clear from congestion. You can use this method multiple times during the day or night but make sure that your baby is upright when putting the drops or spray into their nose.

Keep them cool if they have a temperature

As well as blocked airways, your baby may also have problems sleeping if they’re running a temperature. This is one of the symptoms of Covid-19 and it’s important to try and keep them cool by dressing them appropriately when they go to sleep. A sleep suit can help you to gauge how warm your baby needs to be – if you’ve been using a winter 2.5 tog sleep suit, you may want to switch to a lighter weight version with a lower tog. It’s important to monitor your baby’s temperature to make sure they’re not getting too hot or cold.

These simple methods can help them to settle and get some sleep at night whilst they fight the virus. With a little bit of extra care and attention, you can help to ease your baby’s symptoms, giving you both the chance for a better rest.

Most colds and even the Coronavirus pass in a few days, but if the symptoms seem to be ongoing for longer and your baby develops a severe fever or has trouble breathing, call 111 to seek medical assistance. The advice from the NHS at the time of writing is not to travel to your nearest doctors surgery or hospital without speaking to 111 first if you or your child are showing symptoms of Coronavirus, unless it is a medical emergency in which case call 999 straight away and warn the telephone responder that Coronavirus is suspected so the ambulance team can come prepared.

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