5 ways to get your baby through a respiratory illness

This is intended to be educational and should not be substituted for medical advice. If you have any concerns, please see your child’s doctor.

One key feature to keep in mind about the baby’s airway, which is different from the older child and adult is this:

babies are obligate nose breathers, which basically means they breathe exclusively from their noses. We can also breathe from our mouths as we get older and therefore this advice really is intended for babies.

That being said, you can imagine, when a baby gets an illness like cold, and their noses become blocked, they can have a hard time with feeds and even sleep. Try to imagine eating/drinking or sleeping if your nose is blocked and you could not breathe from your mouth.

Here are 5 tips to get your baby through a respiratory illness:

  1. Saline drops in the nose with aspiration of mucus – the ideal time to do this is before feeds/naps.
  2. Ensure your baby is drinking well and making good number/volume of wet diapers. Fluids in smaller volume, more frequently will help also. You should speak to your doctor about whether pedialyte is an option for your baby (usually depends on age).
  3. Ensure your baby gets plenty of rest. But, if they are not waking to feed, this could signify lethargy and your baby should be taken in to see their doctor immediately.
  4. Control fever with tylenol/advil as long as your doctor has cleared your baby to use these.
  5. Make sure your baby is fully immunized, they are not in contact with other sick people, and everyone practices good hand hygiene. Keep in mind that having one respiratory illness doesn’t mean your baby cannot catch another illness.

*For some respiratory illnesses, your doctor may have prescribed puffers, in which case, be sure to use them as directed.