Winter Bugs - How to Protect your Family; Manage Coughs & Colds By Katherine Whitby

Paediatric Nurse, Health Visitor, Mummy of two and Founder of Baby Steps

The winter chill has definitely arrived. Along with the stunning autumnal colours,

beautiful, crisp morning frosts and winter sunshine come potential bugs. Here are

my top tips for keeping the immune system up and managing coughs and colds.

We so often think of boosting our kids with vitamins, healthy food etc but it is really

important to keep our own immunity up too. Sadly, if we get poorly we have to

soldier on looking after everyone, so it’s best to take action! Here are

recommendations for you and your family:

  • Pro biotics – 70 – 80% of our immunity is in the gut, so it makes sense to keep it as healthy as possible. Pro biotics are now widely recognised to help do this. Check out a fantastic brand called ‘Proven’ where you will find suitable ones for your baby and children.

  • Elderberry Syrup is suitable from 12 months, available from Neals Yard Remedies or Pukka. It is well known to aid health in the winter months and many take it from the beginning of Autumn. It is packed with antioxidants and vitamins that may boost your immune system. Some experts recommend elderberry to help prevent and ease cold and flu symptoms.

  • Vitamin C – boasting 7 clinically proven benefits ( a daily dose plus fruit and vegetables rich in this immune boosting vitamin will certainly help keep the family stronger over the winter months.

  • Echinacea – not suitable for those under 12, but certainly top of the list for parents to fight bugs. I have personally been able to fight off numerous colds with a combo of Vit C and Echinacea at the first sign of a cold. Super helpful juggling parenting life!

  • Vitamin D – the sunshine vitamin recommended October – March by the Government. It helps our bones, teeth and immunity. I massively recommend taking a look at ‘Nature Doc’ who stock the above for the whole family and can give you advice.

One of the most common causes of childhood illness is colds or upper respiratory

tract infections. The common cold is so called because it is exactly that - common. A

baby can catch between eight and ten colds before they reach the age of two!

( 2013). This is due to young children coming into contact with new

viruses for the first time (DoH 2007). Over time the baby will build up their

immunity and get fewer colds. Nasal congestion is particularly tricky for babies

under 6 months who are preferentially nasal breathers.

What can you do to help?

  • Raise the head of the cot/ bed - this will help to drain mucus and relieve coughing. For under 1s put something under the mattress – rolled up towel, blanket, magazines will do! For over 1s you can use pillows.

  • Saline drops, suitable from newborn, will help to loosen and drain the mucus.

  • A humidifier can moisten the air and help relieve a dry throat and nose.

There are many products available at your local pharmacy, which can be used in

babies over 3 months to ease nasal congestion, it is good to look for natural versions

wherever possible:

  • Vapour rubs. These can be applied directly onto the skin but if you prefer rub onto their vest, baby-gro or pyjamas. Some find it effective rubbed onto the soles of the feet. Beware not to put anywhere they might then rub it into their eyes. While rubs such as Vicks or Olbas are available for babies, natural balm such as the Neal Yard Remedies Baby Balm or Lanolin with a tiny amount of oil – tea tree, lavender or eucalyptus is an alternative.

  • A tiny amount of children’s vapour drops or tea tree, lavender or eucalyptus oil can be put into the bath and the steam inhalation will help decongest.

  • Vapour capsules

  • Plug In decongestants – these are brilliant and work all night! Again, I would recommend a more natural option – a diffuser and a few drops of oil but pulf in versions are available from Boots and pharmacies.

  • Nasal aspirators – differing preferences on these, some parents really recommend them, others don’t fancy the idea. Use saline drops initially to loosen the mucous and then use with caution to prevent further distress. Crying will create more mucous!

  • Cough linctus’s are available to soothe a tickly throat, use with caution and not for too long a period, as they are suppressing the cough which is actually the body’s way of removing unwanted mucous from the chest. Generally GPs or Paediatricians do not recommend them.

Importantly, do not hesitate to seek advice if you are concerned from your

Pharmacy, 111 or your GP.

Department of Health (2007) Birth to Five (2013)

Common Cold

I hope these tips help you and your family this Winter. Do get in touch if you have any to share. Wishing you a healthy and cosy time. Katherine x

Feel prepared! Baby Steps offers Baby First Aid & Weaning courses at home or Baby Steps HQ nestled in the woods of Bramshott Chase, the perfect way to learn vital skills and tips galore in a relaxed, social way with friends and family. Babies are always welcome.

This information is for general information only and should not be treated as a substitute for medical advice given by a doctor or any other health professional. Baby Steps is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made or actions taken by a user based on this information.

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