Monday, January 7, 2013

Let's Steam the Baby! (Colds, Coughs, & Stuffiness)

Wow, it's almost been an entire week between posts. Plus, this post doesn't have any pictures. Sorry! I do have more pictures from our Christmas to share, but since time's flying I wanted to get my thoughts and notes on recent events written down before they were completely forgotten.

"Let's Steam the baby!" is an expression that's come out of my mouth many times in the last week or so. In response, my husband replies, "He's not a lobster." Then we steam the baby . . . in the bathroom, not a pot. :) Both the baby and I are recovering slowly from colds which hit us both on December 29th. I know the date precisely because it was the evening of a dinner party at which we made only cameo appearances due to feeling so yucky. I've never been sick for so long--I already had a chest-racking cough for about 2 weeks before the Blueberry and I got this latest cold. Now we're 10 day past and the cough still visits and our noses still run a little bit each day. We're definitely on the mend, but these illnesses have driven home the importance of sleep and doing our best to keep the immune system healthy.

Back to the steaming . . . when the Blueberry's too stuffed up to eat, which naturally only happens after midnight, sitting a steamy bathroom helps a ton. Supposedly saline drops help too, but steaming seemed far less traumatic on an already unhappy child. Plus, there are neat lights in the bathroom which momentarily take his mind off his discomfort. Steaming the baby takes only about 10 minutes depending upon how hot your shower can go plus some vacuuming of the baby's nose.

Ah, the baby vacuum--aka nose aspirator. Traditionally a bulb syringe like this one is used. I think they're useless, at least after the baby is more than a few weeks old because the tube is so narrow and the amount of air available for each suck so little. Instead, ee use the Nosefrida which is basically a straw with a filter to keep any yuckies in the collection vial. It's a Swedish invention and works marvelously as compared to the bulb syringe. Despite this marvel, cleaning out the Blueberry's nose is a huge pain. At first, my husband was quite skilled at it and willing to suction so long as the baby wasn't all smiles as tears would inevitably result. Then he tried his method in his own nose and discovered that it hurt! Not the suctioning, but the jamming of the tube into a nostril (which is how he got a secure lock, I assume). Thus, he vowed never to suction the Blueberry's nose again and the task fell to me. In general, I was far less efficient at vacuuming than my husband for several reasons: (1) I merely place the collection tube at the base of each nostril and suck--that means he can simply turn his head to escape. (2) I worry about poking him in the eye, and (3) the baby bird phenomenon--the baby apparently thinks I'm offering him food and tries to get the tube in his mouth! I'm getting better at this task, particularly the first two issues, but the baby bird phenom is going strong. On the plus side, we're down from vacuuming 3-4 times ago to just 1-2. He hasn't been too stuffed up to eat, nor has he been drowning in his own snot which was definitely a heart-wrenching occurrence. In general, unless the Blueberry's uncomfortable, I let his nose alone.

I didn't mention anything about coughing, did I? I am cautiously optimistic that the Blueberry did not get my cough. He does have periodic bouts of coughing, but I suspect the primary cause is his running faucet of drool. He also constantly has his fingers in his mouth and I'm pretty sure he just about gags himself when he really gnaws away. I can't believe these teeth still haven't come in but that's the topic of another post.

I wish I could blame traveling as the change of clime and unfamiliar (and unwelcoming) vacation environments likely didn't help, but it's really this illness that's wrecked havoc on the baby's sleep schedule. The number of days when he didn't konk out until 3, 4, 5 and even 6 a.m. in the past 2 weeks are nearing the double digits. I know we're in a growth spurt phase, both physical and developmental but it hasn't been fun. Since there's a fair chance that he's down for a few hours, I'm posting this now. I'll try to post more pictures soon.


  1. Do you plug up the other nostril that you aren't suctioning with a finger, at the moment of suctioning? It sounds obvious but I didn't really figure this out until child #2. It sucks out the snot without you having to jam the suction tube (nosefrieda or larger nasal bulb) quite as far up the nostril.

    Otherwise, our consulting nurse suggested a cold mist humidifier in the bedroom and sleeping on an incline, and those seem to help. (We shove our dictionaries and thesauruses under the crib legs at the head of the crib, other people use carseats.)

    May your cold pass quickly!

    1. Thanks for the tips! I will definitely have to try closing the other nostril next time we vacuum, although I'm sure he's going to love that even more. I haven't brought out the humidifier here yet as the humidity's been consistently in the normal area. I did use a warm air humidifier while we were in Chicago over Christmas but it didn't seem to help much at all, possibly because my inlaws' home was not well climate-controlled due to its size.

    2. The humidifier is a poor substitute for having a shower with your baby. I think you have the right idea there!

      The nostril covering up means the suction is much more effective, but also proportionally more disliked by the baby per unit time. You really can't win!

      Happily, the needing to suction them out thing passes eventually, and soon they start clamoring to wipe their nose on your sleeve (which is magically more acceptable than kleenex or even a cloth handkerchief which is not your clothing).