Taking Care of a Sick Baby


Gini has been sick twice in the last month. Teething has brought with it its slew of niggles big and little. Though there hasn’t been anything more worrisome than a runny nose, a sore throat, bouts of sneezing and dry coughing, runny poop and a touch of nappy rash, all of them together was a tad much to contend with. My baby’s smile, the one that I have come to love so much, was completely wiped off by the latest bout of illness.

The big guns (read: extra cuddly cuddles,
extra long nursing sessions) were brought in immediately. But this time around, with a constant stream running down her nose and a cough that distressed her every time it started, it was evident that they were not going to be enough. The cold took a good 5 days to clear out and in the span of these days, we learnt what works for us when our baby is feeling poorly. It’s a bizarre mix of common sense and obscure (but safe) home remedies.

Here is my list of the things that help take care of a sick baby and make her feel better:

The Steam and Eucalyptus Combo: I have lost count of the number of times my parents have had to nag me all throughout my life to inhale steam every time I have felt sniffly. Somehow, I have never been a fan of this remedy, finding it cumbersome. But my views on the method have done an about turn. Now, I can’t praise it enough. Steaming up the bathroom by leaving the hot shower on to switching the hot mist humidifier on during nap and bedtimes have absolutely changed the amount of respect I have for humble and freely available steam. Add a drop of eucalyptus oil and the difference it makes in helping a sick baby sleep is noticeable in minutes.

Roasted Carom Seeds: This one is straight from the ancient archives of Indian home remedies. With cough syrups being a no-no, I was desperate to find something that could ease Gini’s coughing spells and make the cold a little more bearable for her. With a lot of my family members vouching for this simple solution, I decided to give it a go. As I didn’t have any expectations from it, I was surprised when it worked and doubly so when it worked so fast. If your baby is above 4 months and has a dry cough without an accompanying fever, dry roast a handful of carom seeds and a pod of garlic and tie them up tight in a small piece of muslin. Get baby to smell this throughout the day and by next morning, her cough should be better. Much better.

Warm Mustard Oil Massage: Another age old Indian home remedy. Heat up mustard oil in a pan and massage baby’s soles, back and shoulders with it and put on a pair of socks (warning: they will be stained) before bedtime for relief from cold and cough. Vicks Vaporub works well too.

Bland Diet: It is not uncommon for babies to throw up when they are feeling poorly. Especially when they have a cough. Also, with a blocked nose and the impact that the common cold has on taste buds, it is a wonder if babies want to eat at all. Don’t introduce a new taste around the time they are sick. Stick to a diet of previously tried food that’s easy on the palate and easier still to swallow.

Sudocrem, Bepanthen and Warm Water: Around the time that kids are teething, they often get the loosies. Sometimes these poops are acidic and have quite the vinegary smell. If your little one does this poop in her sleep and you get to change her diaper only after it has remained in contact with her skin for a few hours, a nappy rash is most likely to follow. Gini woke up one night screaming murder. I tried my usual methods of rocking, feeding, sushing, singing etc. but the screams got progressively worse till I opened her diaper and found a stinky poop and a bright red bum. At the behest of the doctor, I kept the wet wipes aside for a few days and dunked Gini’s bum in warm water before every nappy change and slathered a layer of Sudocrem or Bepanthen right after. She was back to normal in 24 hours.

Ginger: Oh how I love ginger when I have a cold or a sore throat. Being such a fan, I assumed Gini would like it too and for a change, she proved me right! I added a dash of grated ginger to her stews and also steeped ginger in warm water before taking it out, cooling the water slightly and giving Gini sips of it. It immediately opened her nose and stopped the fussiness.

These were my go-to methods during the cough and cold riddled time in our household. What are yours?

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