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How to Soothe a Sick Baby 

Having a baby that doesn’t feel well when traveling can be tough. This is what to do.


Every parent wants their baby to be healthy and happy. But unfortunately, getting sick is a part of life. No matter what precautions you take to protect your baby from the spread of contagious illnesses, your baby will inevitably get sick several times per year.

During periods of sickness, your baby will be uncomfortable, and possibly in pain. What steps can you take as a parent to relieve these symptoms and help your baby recover?

Diagnosing a Sick Infant

If you suspect your baby might be sick, it’s important to accurately assess what type of illness they might have and how severe that illness is. In cases of severe or threatening illness, it’s important to get your child to an urgent care facility or a hospital as soon as possible. Only a team of doctors and other medical professionals have the resources and knowledge necessary to combat these illnesses. But in other cases, it may be possible to simply soothe your baby at home and wait for them to recover.

There are many different types of contagious illnesses that can affect your baby, and many of them present similar symptoms, like a runny nose, a persistent cough, and ongoing crying. In general, these are the signs that should motivate you to take more urgent action:

  •       Your baby is less than 3 months old. Babies aren’t born with a fully developed immune system. They may have some immune protection, but they’re much less capable of fighting off illness than their older counterparts. If your baby is less than 3 months old, and they present any signs of a contagious illness, you should take them to an urgent care facility or hospital, or at least talk to your doctor about what to do.
  •       Your baby has a persistent fever. If your baby has a fever of 100.4 degrees F or higher, and that fever doesn’t drop quickly, it’s important to get your child emergency medical attention. This could be a sign of a severe infection.
  •       Your baby seems to be getting worse. Like with adults, illnesses tend to develop over a couple of days in babies, then gradually lessen in terms of symptom intensity. If you notice that your baby is getting worse over several days, seek medical attention.

If you have any doubts about the nature of this illness, or the health of your baby, be sure to talk to your doctor for further guidance.

How to Soothe a Sick Baby at Home

If your baby has a routine illness that doesn’t require emergency treatment, they’ll probably recover quickly on their own. But for the few days that they have symptoms, they may be exceptionally fussy.

These are some of the main ways you can soothe a sick baby at home:

  •       Provide adequate liquids. One of your most important jobs is to keep your baby as hydrated as possible. Children under 6 months old shouldn’t drink plain water, but you can encourage them to drink breast milk or formula more frequently. As with adults, babies that stay adequately hydrated recover faster and have fewer complications.
  •       Support rest. Your baby may be so uncomfortable that they find it difficult to sleep, but you should encourage them to sleep as much as they can. Experiment with different strategies to encourage them to nap.
  •       Use nose drops to clear congestion. Babies are obligate nose breathers, so they become especially frustrated and uncomfortable when they deal with nasal congestion. There are a few options for clearing this congestion, including using saline nose drops or using a bulb to remove extra mucus.
  •       Run a humidifier. Another strong option is to run a humidifier. Providing extra moisture in the air can help to clear some congestion and allow your baby to breathe easier. Consider leaving the humidifier on throughout the night.
  •       Give pain relief medicine. In some cases, the best option is to give a low dose of pain relief medicine designed for babies. Be sure to consult your doctor about whether this is truly appropriate.
  •       Take a warm bath. A gentle, warm bath can be calming, while providing enough heat to clear congestion.
  •       Keep your baby’s head elevated. You may also be able to make your baby more comfortable by keeping their head as elevated as you can.
  •       Provide lots of cuddles. And of course, you should provide lots of cuddles. Babies love to be held, rocked, and gently spoken to – and during a time of illness, these activities become even more important.

Soothing a sick baby isn’t easy, especially if you’re also sick. But the extra support can keep them comfortable during this difficult time and facilitate a speedier, happier recovery. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from others if and when you need it.


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