Our wee Squish-boy is sick. Not quite six months old and a respiratory virus of some sort came to call. Over the years we’ve assembled quite the arsenal of products to deal with viral based issues. Unfortunately, *Most* of them are for bigger people than very young babies. Through some trial and error though we figured out a few things that have helped to make the wee boy comfortable despite the severity of illness.
1) Hydration: Stuffy nosed babies have a difficult time nursing and may not be very interested in swallowing much of anything. With inadequate hydration plus the extra drooling, extra mucous production and the general strain the body is under as the immune system fights the invader hydration needs escalate. Warm sea salt and magnesium baths with just a drop or two of beneficial essential oils can make a world of difference. Not only is the warmth soothing, the steamy air beneficial for inflamed airways while the essential oils work their beneficial magic. Three favorites of mine for sick infants is Lavender Essential Oil, Chamomile Essential Oil and Frankincense Essential oil. All three are anti inflammatory, soothing and calming to the airways. The pores of the skin are able to absorb moisture and it helps to rehydrate, especially via the feet!
The warm steamy air is also fantastic for loosening up stuffy noses enough that they can be gently suctioned or wiped. For babes old enough to understand blowing their nose or ones that require frequent wiping, I suggest keeping their delicate skin slathered in a layer of Miracle to help prevent chaffing. Miracle can also serve as soothing and healing carrier oil/base for essential oils as needed on other parts of the body.
2) Massage: We have become big fans of massage for our babies and children on a regular basis. But it is especially helpful when they are sick. A light dab of Winter Breeze on their little footsies and gently rubbed in, focusing on helpful pressure point areas is a great thing to do.
3) Probiotics. Infants have immature immune systems with limited capabilities. Most of the immune system is housed in the gut. Probiotics are one of the most gentle and safe supplements one can give an infant. It works well in addition to breastmilk or formula. I personally use Tummy Tune Up capsules. For 0-3 months 1/4 a capsule worth of the mild and slightly milky tasting powder on the tongue before nursing. 3 to 9 months 1/2 a capsule at a time and 9+ months one full capsule at a time. Another favorite for us to use is Bovine Colostrum. Beeyoutiful’s is sourced from grass-fed cow’s and is freeze dried to maintain optimal nutritional benefits.
4) Sleeping Positions: Our babies have not been good sleepers under the best of circumstances. Actually, pretty sure they are in the running for some of the worst baby sleepers out there. But, what good sleeping we do manage to make happen on a normal basis goes straight out the window as soon as snuffles and congestion arrive on the scene. We have found that our babies do much better when sleeping on an incline. When breathing issues are really acute it’s best to have baby skin on skin with mama, sleeping on her chest (especially if she’s lactating!) A recliner, or propped up safely in a bed is safest. Arranged in such a way that if Mama’s arms go limp in sleep baby is still safe from rolling off and getting into a smothering situation or hitting the floor. We have also put a fully swaddled baby on their back on a pillow set at an incline to help with breathing. The swaddling prevents them from rolling over or flipping themselves into a position where they could smother or have restricted air access from the pillow (firm pillows are best for this purpose). We also sleep right next to our sick babies. SIDS is a worry that is never too far from my mind but always rises to the forefront whenever there is sickness that affected their airways. With my Mama spidey senses in full gear I am pretty tuned into their every breath or lack of one sleeping near them.
Room sharing may mean parent(s) get less sleep but it can make for more attuned care to the little ones. Especially if it means getting to them before they are able to work up into a cry when they wake up. Crying = more mucous production and distress so preemptively doing as much care as it is possible to do without them having to cry is ideal. Also, and possibly most importantly there is some research to suggest that babies are triggered and “reminded” to breath by the bio feedback. Hearing the deep, even rhythms of breath from especially the people their little bodies are best attuned to is one of the best regulating things you can give them access to when breathing is at all a struggle.
5) Rest: With the 24/7 attentive care that babies need when they are sick, rest is of top priority. Even for Mama’s that have other little ones running around that need care. There is too much at stake with a sick babe for mama to run herself into the ground and get super sick herself (preaching to the choir here as I hack and cough from having succumbed to what the wee man had over a week ago). Rest as much as it is possible to. We all have these lofty parenting goals of what our kids are allowed to do and not do on a normal basis. This is one of those times where it’s Ok to call a truce with the electronics and declare a documentary marathon if it means Mama can snag a nap when baby naps. Rest is that oh so vital and yet oh so undervalued and under prioritized component of healing we so easily overlook. Take shifts with a spouse. Swallow that pride and ask for some help. It’s very worth it.
Our little Squish is, thankfully on the mend from his first illness. I started this blog post when he first got sick and am just now able to finish it up over a week later. Did I mention how overwhelming life gets when dealing with a sick baby??? Yeah. He has been the youngest I’ve had get this sick and it was scary. Was so thankful for each and every tool we’ve learned over the years and been able to practice with on less severe illnesses in his siblings. Our focus going forward for the rest of this winter is prevention!
Next post will be about our new and improved method of doing garlic poultices around here! Stay tuned.