It’s the time of year again when colds strike and my children’s faces look like they’ve been in the gunge tank at Noel’s House Party. Colds are part of a normal childhood but it start to become soul-destroying when you’ve got 3 children all struggling to sleep. It all to often ends up in a vicious circle of one child waking up another, who then wakes up another and so on.
We find it particularly difficult with Chase when he gets a cold. Due to Chase’s disability when he gets a cold it sticks around a lot longer than normal. It’s quite hard for Chase to breathe deeply and when he has a cough it’s a lot of effort for him to be able to cough up any nasties.
We’ve had to become experts at cold symptom management to reduce the effects of a cold to enable Chase to recover from coughs and colds to minimise the chance of coming down with anything worse like a chest infection. Read on to discover my top tips for minimising symptoms, keeping your child comfortable and hopefully ensuring they sleep well through the night when they have a cold (I offer no guarantees for a goods night sleep!)
Children’s Olbas Oil (Ages 3 months plus)
My first attack against a cold has always been (and always will be) using Children’s Olbas oil. We use ours in an oil burner in the living room for half an hour or so before we start our bedtime routine. We find this is enough time to help clear some airways and make it easier and during the bedtime routine everything is loosened up enough to be coughed up (or sneezed out!) easily.
When using Olbas oil there are a few things you need to be extra careful about. First of all make sure you buy the children’s version. The usual version of Olbas oil contains an essential oil called camphor. Camphor even when inhaled can cause trouble breathing, seizures or in extreme circumstances death. There’s been an increase in recent years of these stories in the media which you may have seen. For this reason we only ever keep the children’s version in our house.
Please remember that even the Children’s version of Olbas oil is highly toxic and poisonous if ingested. For this reason I never choose to put it on a a tissue or cloth in case one of the children manage to get hold of it and put it in their mouth. Likewise the Olbas oil is kept in a locked cupboard that the kids do not have access to.
Put off at the risk of keeping essential oils in the house? Then look no further than your trusty shower to help! Definitely not the most eco-friendly method of easing the symptoms of a cold but when any of my children are REALLY blocked up this works extremely well. Simply turn on your shower on the hottest setting (don’t get in it!), close the bathroom door and wait 10 minutes. Upon entering the room it will be filled with steam. If Chase has got a particularly stubborn cough or cold then this works brilliantly to loosen things up very quickly and clear his airways before going to bed.
A cool mist humidifier
A humidifier is designed to keep a certain level of moisture in the air and makes it easier for your child to breathe at night. I’ve found in practice this only works well for us if we’ve managed to clear out all the snot as much as possible first. If I don’t do that then it’s a whole night of coughing and waking up for Chase. I think this is because as the humidifier started to loosen up any mucus in his system he struggles to handle it in his airways and has to cough it up. As coughing is so hard for him it requires him to fully wake up to deal with it! For my other children though this really does help to give them an easier night and get more sleep.
Elevating their bed
Most parents will have heard of this trick to make their kids get a goods night sleep when they have a cold or cough. Elevating the top of the mattress makes it easier to breathe when lying down. You can put books under one end of a cot/bed or for children over the age of one place a pillow underneath the top end of the mattress.
Saline Nasal Spray or drops
Another great way to help loosen up mucus and relieve a blocked up nose is to use a saline nasal spray or drops such as these ones from Calpol. These simply help wash away any mucus and make it easier for your kids to breathe again. Best of all this option is non medicated which means you can use the spray or drops from birth. I find this has worked best for my youngest Harper at relieving a stuffy nose
Remember if your child is under three months old and has a temperature of 38C (100.4F) or above, or is between three and six months old and has a temperature of 39C (102.2F) or above then you should seek medical advice. For more information please visit the NHS website
Depending on how bad the cold is we may use any combination of these methods to help decongest the kids. I’d love to hear below any other methods you’ve used as a parent to help relieve the symptoms of a cold. Anything to save us from another winter of a self-perpetuating snot fest!