Baby’s First Cold! A Christmas survival guide

Ada’s first cold has been genuinely harrowing to watch at times, I honestly had no idea how awful it is for babies – they can’t easily breathe through their mouths, they can’t blow their noses, they’re stuck on their backs and there’s not a damn thing you can give them. Here’s how we’re getting through it.

See a doctor as often as you need to

It’s not your job to diagnose your baby’s illness; even attempting it will turn you into a gibbering mess of worst-case scenarios. All you can do is gather info to relay down the phone to the nice 111 man; I even put Ada on the phone to him at one point so he could listen to her death rattle. I imagine that’ll come up at the 111 Christmas party.

Revert to newborn mode as required

Babies with bad colds need lots of supervision to make sure they don’t drown on their own snot, and often need to nap propped up in your arms*. But you’ve trained for this, soldier, back at newborn bootcamp! Abandon your sleep training and dinner plans and revert to survival mode – sleep in shifts, double-team the medicine administration and eat your feelings. I found it oddly nostalgic.

Buy all the things

Calpol! Nurofen! Saline drops! Vapour oil! Snot sucker! More Calpol! A massive cake! Hardly any of these products make a difference, but do give you something to do other than cry and ask the 111 man for his home number.

Let her do fun activities

Much as I want to zip her into a darkened oxygen tent for the rest of her childhood, Ada is happiest doing her familiar baby fun things. We’ve kept giving her a daily bath and a walk outside, and both have helped cheer her up a bit.

Get on social media

Now is not the time to be too cool for Twitter or Facebook – get on there and ask for advice, moan into the void, or just chat to friends who aren’t living in a vortex of mucus. This thread made me laugh so hard I cried.

Try to take some useful knowledge away from the experience

I’ve learned:

  • Saline drops are awful but effective
  • Ada’s pain cry actually goes ‘OW!’
  • Doctors won’t tell you off for coming in at 5pm on a Friday with a wheezing baby, even if they’ve got their coats on to go home.
  • Parents of children with actual serious illnesses are GODDAMN HEROES, I salute you all. 

*The enormous cotbed is currently propped up enough that she shimmies down it in the night. I found her this morning grabbing at rattles and muslins and trying on my glasses, usually well out of reach at the foot of the bed.

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