I cannot explain the sheer dread that used to creep into our household if we were even a sniff away from a cough or cold during the first two years of my son’s life…
My fiancé and I would swap terrified glances if anyone dared to sneeze within a mile of us, not necessarily out of the fear of COVID-19, but at the promise that our boy might catch any kind of or flu-like virus. We knew that if he did, it meant at least one week of no one getting more than a few hours of sleep each night and he & I both feeling physically and mentally broken from constantly carrying our koala-like babe as he recovered. We even seriously contemplated taking him out of nursery to try to prevent him from getting ill.
If your little one is ill right now, my heart goes out to you. I know the nauseating feeling of being woken up countless times overnight by a babe who is struggling to breathe through a blocked nose. I know the weight of only being able to calm your tiny bundle by standing up in a steamy bathroom for hours on end. I know the spirit-breaking fatigue of looking after a poorly wee one without a village of support and it being completely & utterly exhausting. You are not alone and this won’t last forever, I promise.
10 tips for breastfeeding a child with a cold
Until your babe recovers, here are ten tips for breastfeeding a child with a cold:
1) Breastfeed your child in a steamy bathroom
The steam will help loosen the mucus in their chest and nose. If you can, move a chair there or sit on the loo so that you don’t have to stand up.
2) Nurse in upright positions
Try nursing in the koala hold or in a sling. Learning to nurse in a sling can be a game-changer in so many ways.
3) Use a child-friendly humidifier
A humidifier works by moistening the air around your babe, making it easier for them to breathe and hopefully sleep, too.
4) Breastfeed whilst in the bath together
Ensure that the water is no hotter than 37-38 degrees celsius/100 degrees farenheit.
5) Help clear your babe’s blocked nose by squirting a little breast milk up into it
Yes really! Breast milk has so many wonderful benefits, and this is one of them.
6) Do lots of skin-to-skin to help regulate their temperature
If your little one has a fever, then try skin-to-skin to regulate their temperature. The wonders of skin-to-skin really know no bounds.
7) Look after yourself by asking for help and rest with your babe
Also, ensure you are well fed and hydrated.
8) Offer them other warm liquids such as soup, chamomile tea & warm water
This only applies if your little one is older than 6 months
9) Nurse on-demand in the knowledge that your breast milk contains antibodies tailored to their illness
It’s amazing how your breast milk alters to meet to needs of your sick child and aid their recovery in the best way possible.
10) Try using a baby-friendly nasal aspirator
Some of these devices may look medieval, but they work by gently sucking the mucus out of your little one’s nose (that is, if you can keep them from wriggling long enough to insert one!).
Looking after a little one is challenging at the best of times, but when they are unwell and you may be their only source of nourishment, the toll can be immense. Give yourself the grace that you need whilst your babe recovers. Ask a neighbour if they can grab you an oven pizza from the nearest shop, or ask your mother-in-law to drop off some of that infamous chicken soup of hers. We were never meant to mother alone, so please don’t try to.
Disclaimer: This article is no substitute for medical advice & is not designed to replace it. This is practical advice from one mama to another & is based upon my personal experiences as a mom, as well as research that I have carried out for myself, as well as friends, family & clients. If you have breastfeeding concerns, please speak to a qualified IBCLC for advice.