Snot Monsters

I am the proud mother of the world’s snottiest baby. The colds just keep on coming this winter in some unholy rain of pestilence. Every baby we know is currently ill and fun activities are being cancelled left, right and centre.

Contrary to popular advice here is a baby playing with medicines (they are just the boxes I promise)
Practical parenting – medicines are completely suitable playthings! (they are just the boxes I promise)

We had just achieved the parenting holy grail of Nell sleeping through the night, not once but twice. That particular train of progress was swiftly derailed by cold no. 42 currently afflicting Bubs. On Friday we were up at 3 am for a two hour intense screaming session. I do not understand how Nell has the energy to keep crying. I kept thinking soon she will have exhausted herself, it’s just not humanely possible to keep going. But displaying sheer grit and determination she powered through.

It’s just the worst thing when she’s upset and there is nothing I can do to help apart from provide cuddles. She had Calpol. She had a second dose of Calpol. I worried the screaming was hurting her throat. She went bright red. A tear/snot combination was pouring down her face. She didn’t want to feed, which is usually the solution to all evils. Eventually at about 5:30 am I took her downstairs and distracted her with breakfast which seemed to do the trick.

This got me thinking about what cold remedies actually have some benefit for little ones. I’ve heard a range of things that can be done, usually to help unblock their noses. When Nell’s nose is blocked she goes off her food and refuses to breastfeed as she can’t breathe while drinking, although recently she is pioneering the new approach of drinking a mouthful and then de-latching to breathe which usually results in the milk trickling out the sides of her mouth…..

Clockwise from top right:- Calpol Vapor Plug, Snuffle Baby Nasal Drops, Snuffle Baby Rub, Calpol Nasal Drops and Calpol Saline Spray
Clockwise from top right:-
Calpol Vapor Plug, Snuffle Baby Nasal Drops, Snuffle Baby Rub, Calpol Nasal Drops and Calpol Saline Spray

But I digress as usual! So, we have tried a variety of remedies aimed at very small babies. Initially I was worried about trying anything in case it had some weird side effect. The leaflets that come with medicines generally don’t help alleviate my fears as I am convinced the worst possible (although highly improbable) side effect will result in Bub’s exposure to medicine of any kind. Unless of course a doctor advises it, in which case anything goes.

I wasn’t worried in the slightest about the temperature caused by her first set of vaccinations as I was told to expect it, but bizarrely giving Calpol to counteract it worried me. Luckily my eminently sensible friend K was on hand to point out that a) Nell was in pain b) wouldn’t I take a painkiller if I was in pain and finally c) Calpol seems to be the child’s painkiller of choice.

So Calpol is now tried and tested. It makes her a bit drowsy and calms her. Calpol also make a range of other medicines to deal with the various other cold related symptoms troubling Nell currently. We have tried their saline drops and the saline nasal spray, both of which can be used from birth. I think the aim of them is to loosen snot in the nose and help clear the airways. I didn’t find either particularly effective.

Administering any kind of medicine is a nightmare with my super wriggly baby who doesn’t want to play ball. These nasal sprays and drops mainly seemed to irritate her and trickle uselessly down her upper lip. However they are the only ones suitable for babies under three months that I could find and sometimes you get to a stage of desperation when you will try anything that may help. I even bought another brand’s range of sprays/drops to see if they worked better. These were made by Snuffle Baby (I admit I was drawn in by the brand name – adorable!). They were equally ineffectual, probably because they had almost exactly the same ingredients albeit in slightly better packaging.

Others seem to have had more success with these types of remedies. One of my friends found that the nasal drops really worked for her son. I think the main problem of these for me was probably my inability to actually administer them.

An action shot. Boxes are far more fun than actual toys!

I have slightly more faith in the effectiveness of the Snuffle Baby rub. I think that this is mainly due to the fact that this is essentially Vicks Vapo Rub for babies and that works for me so I assume it’s good for Nell too. It’s okay to use on babies older than three months and contains eucalyptus, thyme and menthol oils. It can be applied directly to the baby’s chest or to hanky/tissue hanging out of reach on their cot. I love the smell of this stuff and I find it a lot easier to apply as I’m aiming for a larger surface area!

I have also bought a vapour plug/nighlight combo made by Calpol. This was the most expensive of the lot at £6.99 and again can only be used once they are over three months old. This plugs into a socket and has a very bright blue nightlight that comes on automatically. This doesn’t bother Nell but others have said that their children find it too bright when trying to sleep. The oils are contained in a pad which is placed in the top of the plug to diffuse. It aims to soothe the baby with lavender and chamomile oils and de-congest with a mixture of eucalyptus, camphor and menthol. This will fill your whole house with the smell of cold remedies. I like this but any visitors may think you have a weird taste in air fresheners. Although the Snuffle Balm is applied directly to the baby the overall pervasive stinky-ness of the vapour plug means that I think they are equally effective. I tend to use both. The vapour plug is only supposed to be left on for eight hours in one go. I think this might be due to the oil pad drying out in this time. Therefore, perpetual worrier that I am, I am anxious about it being a fire hazard if I forget to turn it off and consequently I don’t use it as much. But if you are not ridiculous like me then it is quite a nice little gadget.

The final remedy I have tried is the NUK Nasal Decongester. This is a white squishy bulb shaped bit of plastic with a clear nozzle. It is the clear winner of ‘Most Disgusting Baby Gadget Ever’ award. We call it the ‘Snot Sucker’ to give you a clue as to its function. Basically you squish the air out of the bulb, put the nozzle up a nostril and release the bulb. The vacuum pulls the snot out of the nose and into the Snot Sucker (sorry, nasal decongester). A clear nozzle was obviously a design necessity as what self respecting parents doesn’t want to see the contents of their child’s nose. Of course I would never be strangely awed and grossed out by enough by such a thing to wake up Hubs at 3 am to share it with him.

Me: ‘Wake up – this is sooooo gross!’ Hubs: ‘Please tell me I am not awake to look at snot…’

If you get the vacuum seal right when placing it on the nose this is very effective and cleared Nell’s nose for long enough for her to have a normal feed. Wriggling was a major problem again though. Especially after she figured out what I was attempting to do.

Obviously none of these things can actually treat the cold itself, they just help alleviate the symptoms so we are in it for the long haul. I am just grateful that Nell is a relatively healthy baby *frantically touches every wooden surface*. And, as I and my fellow parents of sickly babies are currently chanting as we rock slowly in the corners of our nurseries, ‘This too shall pass’.


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