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Soothing Your Sick Child

A sick baby is rarely a happy baby. Your infant or toddler will likely be fussy and out of sorts during her illness. You'll want to check in with your pediatrician, of course, and follow all treatment instructions. Beyond that, you'll just have to wait for the illness to run its course. In the meantime, there are a number of steps you can take to soothe your sick infant. 

Sick Baby Tips

Plenty of liquids
Make sure that your child is getting plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration. Depending on whether you are breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, offer your infant the breast or bottle often to provide both hydration and comfort. Your infant may also enjoy a bottle filled with cool water. Don't give too much water to your infant if he is less than 8 months old, because his kidneys are not mature enough to handle too much water. Breast milk or formula is best at this stage. If he drinks less than usual, remember to offer it more often. If you are concerned that he is not urinating his usual amount or acts tired or dehydrated, contact your doctor.

Plenty of rest
Lots of rest and sleep will soothe your sick baby and help her heal. Put your baby to bed early, if you can, and encourage naps. Avoid situations that will over-stimulate your baby -- and possibly expose others to her germs -- and keep her as quiet as possible. 

Nose drops
If your baby's nose is particularly congested, you can use over-the-counter saline drops or spray to thin mucus. Check with your doctor first and ask which specific products she recommends. Use two drops in each nostril before feeding and bedtime, or whenever your baby seems particularly congested 

Nasal syringe
After you use nose drops or spray, use a nasal syringe to clear your baby's nose of mucus so she can breathe more easily. Clear nostrils two to three times a day. 

Humidifier
Running a cold-mist humidifier in your infant's room will help keep air moist and ease congestion. (Cool-mist humidifiers are recommended over warm, because warm-mist devices present the danger of scalding.)  Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for changing filters and keeping the humidifier clean, and fill with fresh water every day to prevent mold and bacteria.

Warm bath
Not only will a warm bath soothe your sick infant, it will ease aches and pains, and steam from the warm water will also help clear congestion. Dry your baby thoroughly afterward to prevent chills.

Chest massage
If your baby's chest is congested, a gentle massage will help loosen mucus. Place your baby face down across your lap, and gently tap her back with your cupped hand.

Elevate head
Keep your infant's head slightly elevated to make breathing easier.

TLC
By far the best way to soothe your sick baby is to give her lots of love and attention. Hold her and engage in quiet play, give her an infant massage, or read and sing to her. If you are breastfeeding, she may want to nurse more, which will reassure and comfort her. If she likes being in a snugly or sling, bundle her up and do some chores, or take a walk. Talk to her and reassure her, whether she is old enough to understand or not, as your voice will help relax and soothe your sick infant.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on September 23, 2012

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