Keeping Babies and Toddlers Comfortable When They’re Sick

Our favorite saline nasal spray – one for each kiddo.

Welp. All three of my boys woke up with colds today (or, rather, I should say, woke up all night long last night). No one has a fever, and I have their cold, too, so I know it’s not serious, but, unlike them, I can blow my own nose and take DayQuil if I need it. The poor kiddos just know that they feel crappy and can’t get comfortable.

Although babies and toddlers can’t take cold medicine, there are a few things you can do to help make them feel a little better as their cold runs its course. While every little one is different, here is what works best for my boys:

1. Keep Their Noses Clear. To do this, we use a bulb syringe (aka “baby nose suctioner” in our household) and saline spray (we like Little Remedies, pictured above) a few times a day. My 18-month-olds hate this, I’ll admit, but it does make them breath more clearly. My 3-year-old actually loves the nasal spray and can now use it himself. Make sure you stick with the plain saline kind formulated for babies and toddlers; adult stuff may have ingredients that aren’t safe for them. Also, if you have more than one kiddo, get them each their own suctioner and saline bottle to avoid spreading germs.

Little Remedies Little Noses Saline Spray-Drops – 1 fl oz (Pack of 2)

Medline 2 oz Sterile Bulb Syringe – 3 Pack

Baby nose suctioner

2. Use Soft Dish Clothes or Burp Clothes for Wiping Runny Noses. No matter how hard you try to keep their noses clear, they are going to run…a lot. My kiddos have sensitive skin (like their mom!) and their noses and upper lips get sore really easily with tissues. Luckily, we kept the zillion burp clothes we had from when they were infants, so we use those to wipe their noses instead. Sometimes we’ll wet one end a little with warm water to make sure to get off any dried snot (hope no one’s reading this while eating breakfast…).

Burp Cloths 6 Pack Large 100% Cotton Washcloths Double Layered Burping Cloths Extra Absorbent and Soft for Boys and Girls by Comfy Cubs (Grey Pattern, Pack of 6)

3. Run a Humidifier (or Two if You Can!). We live in an area with brutal, dry winters, so we have two humidifiers anyway because they’re just a necessity in this climate. We run a large one in the main living area all during the winter. When the kids get sick, we run a smaller one directly in their bedrooms as well. Keeping the air moist helps them breathe easier. If you live in a more temperate climate, you can probably get away with just having the smaller one and running it only when they’re sick. Here’s a link for an excellent (and inexpensive) smaller humidifier:

Pure Enrichment MistAire Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier – Premium Humidifying Unit with Whisper-Quiet Operation, Automatic Shut-Off and Night Light Function – Lasts Up to 16 Hours

4. Use Children’s Tylenol (But Sparingly). Children’s tylenol (or ibuprofen) is a must if your kiddo has a fever (check with your doctor for the correct dosage as it varies by weight), but we use it even when they don’t have fevers, as colds often come with sore throats and other aches and pains that we may not be able to see. We usually do this three times a day at first and then slowly cut back to just a dose before bedtime (this may be a weird personal preference of mine; I’m always worried about over-medicating). Again, with this, check with your doctor first – our kids have been sick enough times for us to know what works, but we used to call our doctor’s nurses line ALL THE TIME before we got comfortable with this. Pro-tip: check ingredients to find the best price. We discovered about a year ago that the store brand had the same amount and active ingredient as the brand name AND that the Infant formula had the same amount and active ingredient as the Children’s formula (but was about $3 more expensive!) Do check the ingredients yourself though (I’m not a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist; just some mom on the Internet).

Children’s Tylenol Oral Suspension Medicine with Acetaminophen, Cherry, 4 fl. oz

5. Lots of Warm Baths. We give our kiddos SOOO many baths when they are sick. So. Many. Baths. The humidity helps clear out their noses while having the water right there makes runny-nose-clean-up much easier. One caution here – if your little one has a fever, a room temperature bath may be better than a warm one to avoid increasing the fever.

6. Use Vicks Baby Rub on Their Chests (and Feet?). For kiddos over 3 months old, Vicks Baby Rub works great to help clear up congestion. We just rub a little on their chests, but other moms have sworn to me that the soles of the feet are the way to go, and my own mom used to put it right under our noses! Maybe just follow the directions on the bottle?

Vicks BabyRub Soothing Vapor Ointment – 1.76 oz

Our favorite baby rub.

7. Keep Them Cozy. We make sure our kiddos have fresh, warm pajamas each night and sometimes even change them throughout the day if drool and snot spill on them. I know myself that, when I’m sick, I ONLY want to wear clean PJs, and I feel extra yucky if I don’t change them each night (this may sound obvious, but hey, I can be lazy).

8. Finally, Give Them Lots of Extra Love. My three-year-old has already perfected the Art of the Man Cold. He whines, fakes extra coughs, refuses to sleep alone, etc. We humor it all. Last night, he came to sleep with me, and insisted on sleeping ACROSS MY LEGS. He also wanted to talk about dinosaurs for half an hour before he’d lay his head down. We’re usually pretty strict about bedtime, but when he’s sick, I just let it happen. Even adults need babied a little when they’re sick, so I’m not gonna tell my toddlers to tough it out.

What am I missing? Share your tips for keeping babies and toddlers comfortable when they’re sick in the comments!

How to Declutter Books the Easy Way

If any of your books look like these, it’s probably time to let them go.

As an aspiring minimalist and a naturally messy person, I love reading books and blogs about decluttering, organizing, cleaning hacks, and simple living. At some point, I’ll share some of my favorites (those that work especially well for those of us with kids), but today, I thought I’d share a tip of my own.

Like many people, I have an extreme attachment to books – the look, the smell, etc. In fact, I love books so much that I got a Masters degree in Library Science. But, if I saved every book I have ever bought or been gifted, my house itself would look like a library – and not the clean, cozy kind. The kind with cobwebbed stacks of books, where you would be as likely to find a rare classic as a body buried in the corner.

Still, I struggle to get rid of books, even those I don’t like (I’m looking at you Samuel Richardson’s Pamela: or Virtue Rewarded, aka, Sexist schlock disguised as classic literature). I tried to “Marie Kondo” them, but dammit, they ALL spark joy, even if I only hate-read them. So, I needed something even more drastic. Luckily, I stumbled upon this winning, two-part formula:

1. Have kids.

2. Get a puppy.

Together, my kids and puppy work together to ensure my book collection never gets out of hand. Their system works like this: First, the toddlers pull the books off of the shelves and leave them strewn across the floor. Then, the puppy steps in to try to eat them. The books wind up in such bad condition that I couldn’t read them again even if I wanted to. That makes them (marginally) easier to let go.

That’s it! It’s that simple! I know, I know, I couldn’t believe it could be that easy either. The beauty of this system is that there is no agonizing struggle to determine which books I truly love and which ones I can let go – the toddler/puppy make all of those difficult decisions for me, often even destroying some of my very favorite ones!

So, there it is, folks – the secret to my book decluttering success. Next up: How to Declutter Your Favorite Shoes (Spoiler Alert: This involves the same toddler/puppy ruthlessness described above).

Security footage of two of the culprits and a snowman that knew too much.

How to Protect Your Christmas Tree from Toddlers and Pets

Our Christmas tree now lives in a gated community.

Most of us probably have our Christmas trees up by now, but some friends and I were recently talking about how to protect our trees from babies, toddlers, and pets, so I thought I’d share my solution for this year.

Last year, we didn’t try to protect our tree at all, with mixed results. The twins weren’t crawling yet, but our older son was 2 and VERY curious. He kept pulling ornaments and lights off of the tree, trying to stick his hand in the water, etc. Plus, our two cats couldn’t help themselves from pouncing at lower-hanging lights.

This year, with the twins now walking and a new puppy added to the mix, we weren’t taking any chances. In the picture, you can see our solution – a big, self-supporting baby gate all around the tree. Yes, it’s ugly, but not as ugly (or dangerous!) as a bunch of broken ornaments and pulled down lights! We also switched out our breakable ornaments that we had purchased pre-kids and used only plastic ones instead (bonus: plastic ornaments are way cheaper!)

Our 3-year-old is now mature enough to not wreck the tree for fun, so we made the space big enough to stick a little table and chair back there. He likes to sit there for dinner sometimes (we haven’t yet mastered family dinners – that’s a goal for another day – so the kids currently eat pretty early, and my husband and I eat after they go to bed).

Here are other solutions that my friends adopted:

1. Only decorate the upper half of the tree;

2. Purchase a “pre-lit” tree (admittedly, I didn’t even know these existed until one of my friends suggested it);

3. No tree at all! I actually tried to lobby for this for a minute, but my husband is a huge Christmas guy, and his side-eye on this suggestion was enough to make me give up;

4. Hope for the best (it’s still 2020; I’m not taking any chances hoping for the best on anything).

What solutions did you all come up with to protect your Christmas trees from curious kids and pets?