Stuff(y) to Worry About?

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While parents of newborns may have a lot to worry about, a stuffy nose is probably not one of the serious concerns.

It’s safe to say that babies aren’t known for their sanitary behavior. They crawl on the floor, don’t cover their mouths when they sneeze and put whatever they can find in their mouths.

Combine these habits with a new immune system that’s trying its best to fend off a world of new threats, and it should be no surprise that your baby spends a lot of time with a runny nose.

In fact, while her immune system is developing, she may get up to 10 colds a year before her second birthday. Considering the average length of a cold for a baby is 10 to 14 days, that’s quite a few days of congestion.

As a new parent, it may seem like worrying about things like this is a full-time job—even the smallest of things can send parents into a panic. But for something as common as the common cold, there is a right and wrong way to deal with it.

Don’t panic—A runny nose doesn’t necessarily mean your baby has a fever or the flu. If this is the only symptom your baby is showing, then chances are he is okay.

Do check the color—The color of your baby’s nasal mucus can tell you more than you might think. Clear secretions are usually fine, while yellow or green mucus may indicate a more serious sinus infection.

Don’t use cold medications—The U.S. Food & Drug Administration doesn’t recommend any over-the-counter cold or cough medicines for children younger than 2 years old.

Do check the baby’s eating habits—While a runny nose by itself is more annoying than dangerous, it can impact the baby's ability to breastfeed. This is a time when babies need to breathe freely through their nose.

Don’t forget saline—Saline nasal sprays are some of the best ways to clean a baby’s nasal passage. They are safe and very efficient at helping your baby drain her nose.

Do get creative—Steaming up the bathroom, running a cool air humidifier and slightly elevating the baby’s mattress to raise his head can be great ways to help your baby breathe easier.

A Clean Crib

Babies are not known for their strong immune systems. While limited exposure to outside germs may help your little one build up a stronger resistance, there is only so much that their little bodies can handle.

By following these cleaning tips, you can make sure that germs don’t overwhelm your baby:

Wipe down toys—It may seem silly cleaning a stuffed animal or building blocks, but these objects spend a lot of time on the floor as well as in the mouth of your baby. An occasional cleaning—along with sanitizing—might be in order.

Master quick cleaning—As the parent of an infant, you simply won’t have time to clean the entire house regularly. So, as you have time, spot clean high-volume areas that need it most.

Did You Know?

> Harvard Medical School reports that more than 200 viruses can cause the common cold.

> Breastfed babies generally get less sick than babies who don’t breastfeed.

> While over 200 viruses can lead to the cold, rhinovirus is one of the most common culprits and can cause ear infections, sinus infections and sore throats, among other symptoms.

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