When my little guy was an infant, I was sure he was going to die from snot-induced asphyxiation. While I now know better, I could have used a bit more info on what to do to make him feel more comfortable.
Just because many of us are sheltering at home, that doesn’t necessarily mean that our kiddos will be sniffle-free. According to Andrew Gelfand, division chief of pediatric respiratory medicine at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, we sometimes see runny noses simply in response to dry air from having the heat on and the fireplace roaring.
“It’s remarkable; we still see some runny noses. Sometimes even just going out in the cold you get a runny nose,” says Gelfand, who adds that if child is spending a lot of time out in the cold air for play time, you may start to see some irritation and dryness around their noses and mouths as a result of rubbing—particularly with mittened hands.
Gelfand also adds that even though cases of the flu and respiratory colds are way down this year due to social distancing, pediatricians are still seeing cases of the rhinovirus, which is the most frequent cause of the common cold.
Kevin Kathrotia, board certified pediatrician and neonatologist, at Millennium Neonatology in Charlotte, North Carolina, agrees. “The colder months of the year always make children more prone to the sniffles. Just because your child has the sniffles doesn’t necessarily mean there’s an infection. Cold, dry air tends to dry out a child’s (or adult’s) nasal lining, which leads them to create excess mucus to keep the nose lubricated, as well as protected from viruses,” he says.
Whatever the reason for your little one’s siffles, here are some products that we have tried, tested, and love—and that have helped us get through the worst sniffle seasons. As always, when dealing with a sick child, check with your pediatrician before using any products.
1. A forehead thermometer to know what you’re up against
Any parent can tell you, when you have a fussy baby on your hands, the last thing they want is to have their temperature taken. This takes away the fussy discomfort of having something in their ear, mouth or—even worse—their butts. This quick scan can let you gage whether it’s just a passing sniffle or a reason to call the pediatrician in no time and with zero baby-pushback. We love it because you can even take their temperature when they’ve drifted off to dreamland, without waking them from their slumber.
2. Saline spray to get through the gunk
If your little one is feeling plugged up, a good saline spray will help break things down to help them breath a bit easier. We like this one because it has a shape that makes it just right for little noses and, because it sprays an aerosol-like mist, it doesn’t require your little one to be upright to get it where it needs to go. Trust us, you’ll be grateful you can get it in a baby’s nose even if they are lying down. And since a common cold likes to make the rounds through families, this one comes in a three-pack, so everyone in the family can have their own to minimize cross contamination.
3. A snot sucker supreme (trust us)
It may sound gross to suck snot out of your baby’s nose, but you’ll be surprised at what you’ll be capable of once you’ve been tending to a child that’s miserable with a stuffy head. The ingenious design of the NoseFrida prevents the snot from actually going in your mouth, and is more practical and comfortable for babies than trying to extract the boogers with a bulb aspirator. Plus, those bulb aspirators can get filled with mold—not helpful when you’re trying to rid your child of respiratory illnesses.
Hot tip from a mom who knows (me, I’m talking about me), this item is clutch for the first time your child sticks a pea or crayon up their nose. Laugh now, but it’s essentially a rite of passage into toddlerhood. They’re going to do it and now you’re going to be prepared. You’re welcome.
4. A humidifier to work all night
Whether your kiddo actually has a cold, or you just want to keep a dry winter cough at bay, a humidifier is a smart solution and essential for getting through the dry winter months. This one is small, chic, and runs for 24 hours and—because it’s cool mist—you never have to worry about keeping your little one safe from hot water burns. Best of all, it’s filter-free, which makes it a no-hassle solution. That being said, it’s always a good idea to periodically give your humidifier a cleaning; here’s how.
5. A sneaky med dispenser
They’ll think it’s a pacifier, but really it’s a slow-flow medication dispenser. If you’ve ever tried to give a little one medication from a syringe, you know how challenging it can be. We love that this dispenses liquid at a safe flow-rate to reduce spitting up and gagging—because that’s the last thing you need when dealing with a sick little one.
6. Super soft moisturizing wipes
Do you really need a wipe that’s made specifically for snot? From where we are standing, yes. These are super soft, unscented, and they have the almighty saline to help break down the boogers for a good, clean blow. As we all know, repeat rubbings with tissues can result in a red and raw nose. These are moisturizing and nourishing for even the most sensitive skin. They also come in a handy resealable pouch that you can throw in your diaper bag or purse.
7. A 48-hour temperature-taker
If it’s looking like you might be dealing with more than a passing sniffle, you may want to get a temperature-tracker to make sure your little one is on their way to wellness. This ingenious strip and accompanying app (compatible on Android or iOS) monitors the rises and drops in your child’s fever and sends intermittent updates to your phone. Sure, you probably won’t need this for just checking in to see if a temperature is brewing, but for the more severe colds—and a possible case of the flu—this is a peace-of-mind option to help you know if your kiddo’s temperature is climbing or if you’re in the clear.
8. A soothing chest rub to help them sleep
It doesn’t matter how little you are, sometimes a soothing rub is just what you need to get through a tough cold. Kathrotia recommends a rub like this for a chest and foot massage to clear the airways. This has eucalyptus to open things up and lavender and camomile to calm your little one to help soothe them enough that they can get some much-needed sleep.
If you purchase any sort of chest rub for children, be sure it’s menthol-free and check with your pediatrician before using it. This one is free of menthol and petroleum, and professes to be “pediatrician-recommended.”
9. A booger-vaporizing bubble bath and baby wash
A nice warm bath is one of the best foils for a stuffy nose. This plant-based formula claims to even be safe for newborn skin and is filled with nourishing oils, emollients, and aromas to help clear their nasal passages. We love that this can do triple duty as a shampoo, a body wash, and a bubble bath so it’s just as good for a soothing soak as it is for a head-clearing shower. This one is so comforting you may just want to buy two to have enough for yourself.
10. Some head-clearing bath bombs
These fizzy bath bombs are just what you need to step up the cold season nurturing by a few notches. Fizzy bath bombs are always fun, and these contain natural eucalyptus and lavender oil, making for a calming soak that can help your little one relax and breathe easier.
11. A face mask to keep germs at bay and keep breathing moist
“Wearing a mask in cold weather can actually be protective, as it allows for warmer air to enter the nose,” says Kathrotia. Our favorite for kids is Happy Masks, which have a customizable fit with adjustable ear straps, nose wire, and three-dimensional design. It’s also designed by a retired chief scientist with a doctorate in filtration. These masks have a special nanofiber membrane filter that is guaranteed to filter over 99% of nanoparticles.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.