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Dealing With Baby's First Cold

E caught her first cold on 14/09/2014. From me.

I did everything I could to protect her from my illness my hands were raw from washing. Still, she woke up with a runny nose on that fateful Sunday morning. I messaged E's paediatrician who recommended that I give E half a dropperful of T-minic drops, two times a day. T-minic apparently eases symptoms such as a runny nose, stuffy nose, and sneezing

Generally mistrustful of medical practitioners, I quickly Googled, 'T-minic.' Which was just as well, because the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) advises parents to refrain from administering cold and cough medicine to infants below the age of 2. The active ingredients in T-minic are chlorphenamine maleate makes a person sleepy and phenylephrine hydrochloride a decongestant, both of which are contraindicated by the USFDA for infants under the age of 2.

After having conducted research on usage of such medication, the USFDA found that that reports of harm to children occurred due to accidental ingestion, unintentional overdose, or after a medication dosing error. In reports of harm that lead to a child's death, most of those children were under the age of 2. The recommendation reads, "FDA research indicates that children less than 2 years old appear to be most susceptible to serious injury when there are no labeled directions for use but rather state "to ask a doctor (healthcare provider) for use""

However, the research has been unable to clarify whether these products are being given to infants per doctor's orders or if the recommendation to speak to a doctor leads caregivers to believe that such medication is appropriate for an infant.

T-minic comes with dosage and administration directions of 9-11 drops/dose for 3 to 4 doses per day (for 6 to 12-month olds) and it appears that this formulation is appropriate for infants and children from 1-month to 4-years of age. It is manufactured in Uttrakhand by Coronet Labs Private Limited as per formula licensed by Novartis India Limited.

Given that we don't have similar recommendations in India, and regulations regarding naming and even formulation of medicines for infants are lax maybe even absent at best, I decided to wait it out and see whether E's runny nose would get worse I was looking for change in colour of nasal discharge, fever, or cough. Sure, if I had other children or was working, I probably wouldn't have thought too hard about it. But this was different - she was her usual bright, cheerful self. She just had a runny nose clear mucous in case you were wondering.

In the meanwhile, I did some more research on natural ways to help alleviate a baby's symptoms of cold. A week later and after having tried a few things, I found the following to help E get rid of her cold something something cold, a week or 7 days:

Humidifier or Vaporiser? 

The standard vaporiser that most of us have at home ours says steam cum sauna, much to the husband's delight serves the purpose of providing temporary relief from congestion, that is, by sticking our faces directly in the line of steam ouch while being covered by a towel or sheet. I never really noticed how warm the device gets when heating water until all E wanted to do was touch the vaporiser and, I'm guessing, taste it.

This led me to look for baby-friendly devices that would serve the same purpose, i.e., release steam such that mucous is loosened. Apparently, there are two kinds of humidifiers - one releases hot steam while the other, a cold mist.

While the cold mist humidifier is more expensive, it pays for itself because it has a job and bank account it doesn't have a heating element and as such, won't add to your electricity bill. Your child is also comparatively safer around a cold mist humidifier because of the no heat aspect. Unfortunately, the absence of heat also makes it the perfect home for damp-loving microbial organisms.

On the other hand, the hot humidifier is great if you live in cool, dry Bangalore - it adds just the right amount of mugginess to a room to ensure that baby's mucous stays runny. However, the steam released does have the potential to cause burns and as with anything and this includes cold mist humidifiers, KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN.

We didn't really have the time to go out and test each kind of humidifier so we quickly decided to stick with a steam humidifier because I'm convinced that it's warm mugginess that loosens mucous also cool mist humidifiers are used in warm, humid cities like Singapore and Dubai to cool down an open area. I figured Chicco would be most likely to have a baby-friendly design and settled for the Chicco Humi Relax delivered in a day by

Chicco Hot Humidifier Humi Relax
The Chicco Hot Humidifier Humi Relax is fairly large and has a stable base but most importantly, the device stays cool. E was unable to upset it or even pull it to taste, what else? when I made the steamy tent of mucous-loosening draping a cloth over her playmat and my head with her and the humidifier inside. With a capacity of 2 litres basically 4.5 large glasses of water, it will humidify your room for about 5 hours.

The nozzle on top releases steam to a height of almost 3 feet so is warm only at the tip. Helpfully, the nozzle, which can be cleaned separately, also contains a little nook for essential oils. This brings me to the next useful way to ease a baby's symptoms of cold.

Essential Oil - Eucalyptus

Before E was born, I stocked up on lemongrass and citronella oil to repel mosquitoes, lavender to calm baby down, and eucalyptus oil for stuffy nose. The lemongrass and citronella oils were very useful when she was a newborn in the summer because a few daubs near her bedding really did keep the mosquitoes away.

The lavender oil was a complete waste. Rather than calming her down, it irritates her and I can understand why. That it has the audacity to call itself an essential oil when clearly, it was synthesised in a laboratory is proof of the fact that no one cares about aromatherapy.

Buy this. Now.

However, the eucalyptus oil was the star of our lives this past week. I went through one bottle by SoulFlower and half of another from Good Earth. Adding a few drops to her normal massage oils of Ayurvedic നാല്പാമരാദി (Nalpamaradi) and extra virgin coconut oil, and to her warm bath water would sufficiently loosen any mucous that I could clean up post-bath. Thus, she could nap well in the afternoon.

I would add a few drops to the dispenser on our humidifier and chill quite the opposite, actually with E in our steamy tent of mucous-loosening. Within a few minutes, the mucous would come streaming out ready for me to clean up.

Change in Diet

We had just started E on solids and she had gotten reasonably comfortable being fed purée by spoon when the cold struck. As with adults, the general advice to relieve colds for infants is to give lots of fluids. So I temporarily stopped her solid feeds and switched her back to being exclusively breastfed - feeding her every hour or so.

I hoped my breastmilk would pass on any antibodies that I may have made for the cold that she caught from me. I made sure she had a clean nose before each feed and her swallowing action helped drain any mucous that the aspirator couldn't get to.

This, along with all the eucalyptus oil and near constant exposure to mugginess I would run a hot water shower for a few minutes before bathing E meant that she wasn't too uncomfortable while making a complete recovery in a week.

Nasal Aspirator

My mother got us this nasal aspirator from Pigeon. Its long-ish tip was helpful to suck out dried bits of snot when E was a newborn. Unfortunately, with all the runny mucous, the long tip didn't get everything out. Also, E was no longer a complying little babe who completely trusted her mama. At 6-months, she would push my hands away and when I'd pin her arms down, she would turn her head from side to side. Until I figured out a way to keep her head still AND pin her arms down AND suction her nose now I know why Hindu goddesses are depicted with multiple arms.

It took me a few days to realise that I wasn't using the nasal aspirator correctly. When I removed the long tip, I was able to place the nasal aspirator just at the entrance to her nostril. This would then suction out ALL the runny mucous because the new tip fit perfectly into her infant nostril. Twenty years of formal education and not once was I taught how to use a nasal aspirator. I've never needed to use trigonometry. For anything. Ever. And yet, I learned trig for 5 years in school.


Taking care of a sick baby was nerve wracking. While E had no idea she was ill, she didn't understand why she couldn't breathe normally and got quite cross with my attempts to decongest her It didn't help that I kept jabbing her with an inappropriately-used aspirator.

At night, she would wake up more than a few times with a snotty nose, which I would have to clean up and hold her upright for her to fall back asleep. Coincidentally, I also had my period that same week so I kept alternating between wanting to soothe her and wanting to smash her against the wall Fun!

On the whole, I was overcome with guilt because she caught the cold from me and sympathy she's so tiny that I catered to all her baby whims - almost as if she were a newborn again. In hindsight, this wasn't such a great idea. I had to contend with some crying at nighttime after she had recovered because she still expected me to pick her up.

However, it's hard to watch your baby suffer. It's hard not to project all your cold-time needs onto your baby. And I leapt into all the steam and aroma therapy just so that I could feel like I was doing something.

Maybe I should've just given her the T-minic drops and gotten on with my life.


  1. Useful information again! Colds are difficult whatever age we are. You dealt with E's cold with a lot of patience, which many people just don't have or can't have due to umpteen other commitments.

    1. Thanks, Latha, for your comment. There were days when I wished I could give little E pepper tea in a bottle :)

  2. Thanks for the recommendations! Hopefully I can find something that will help with our dry air. This is our first time getting one my 7 'm sure it will be ok ill keep an eye on him tho!

    1. Thank you, Melissa. Glad you liked the post. Hope you find a good steam humidifier that will help with dry air. Do look for one that has a special nozzle that you can add eucalyptus essential oil to - this will keep baby's mucous loose and easy to remove. Good luck!


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