What I Do When the Sniffles Strike

posted by Andrea | 11/12/2015
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sniffles strike

A few weeks ago, I shared our super simple tip to keep germs away (a.k.a we wash our hands ALL the time!)

In that post, I jokingly mentioned that I was jinxing myself by sharing our tip to keep germs away, and that someone in our family would most likely be sick by the next week.

Well, thankfully, the flu never hit our house… but we did have a full week where all 3 kids were sneezing, coughing, and dealing with stuffed up noses.

This is bad enough with Nora who completely overreacts to EVERYTHING and usually refuses to take any type of medicine; but it’s just plain heart-breaking when you’re trying to feed a little baby who can’t breath through his nose.

Thankfully, Dave and I were spared… at least in the stuffy nose department. We paid our dues in the form of waking up over and over and OVER again with our children who couldn’t sleep due to stuffy noses and being under the weather.

Sigh…

Although we are generally quite healthy around our house, the kids have had enough runny and stuffy noses over the past 4 years to allow me to develop a little routine of sorts for “what to do when the kids get a cold”.

Today I’m sharing a little more about what I do when the sniffles strike… as well as some of my favorite cold and cough remedies for kids.

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I Wash the Toys:

One of the first things I do when I start hearing sniffles coming from the kids is to wash the toys that are regularly played with. In our case, that’s the doctor’s kit, a handful of Simon’s favorite balls, the play food and dishes, and our musical toys.

I usually wash as much as I can in the dishwasher (on the top rack in mesh garment bags) but recently, Nora has wanted to “help” me wash the toys in the sink. I use plenty of dish soap and a splash of bleach with SUPER hot water. I wear gloves and wash the dishes… Nora just dries them as we don’t have gloves for her and the water it too hot.

p.s. does anyone know where I can buy kid-size rubber gloves? I’ve found gardening gloves and disposable gloves, but never the yellow rubber dishwashing gloves. 

I also throw all the stuffed animals and fabric toys into the washing machine with hot water and detergent.

Nora and I use sanitizing wipes to wipe down the larger toys, door knobs, handles, light switches, etc. I swear, Nora loves doing this so much that she probably would fake having a stuffy nose!

I do try to wash our toys relatively frequently, however it’s one of the first things I do when a cold hits our house.

Also, I try to keep James’ few toys separate from the rest of the toys. He has 3 or 4 that he loves to grab onto (and suck on) so I usually keep them where the other two can’t reach.

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I Wash the Bedding:

Whenever I’m not feeling great, I personally think that nice clean sheets and pillows help me sleep better. Plus, since I actually wash the pillows along with the pillowcases and sheets, I feel like there is less of a chance that dust or dust mites will continue to cause any nasal or respiratory issues.

Once the kids are ‘back to normal’ I rewash the sheets again to remove any lingering germs.

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I Reorganize the Medicine Cabinet:

Since we thankfully don’t have colds very often, it’s not unusual to find expired items in our medicine cabinet. So whenever a cold does hit our house, it serves as a good reminder to reorganize the medicine cabinet.

It only takes a few minutes for me to toss out any expired medicine and make note of new items I might need to stock up on (both for adults and kids).

Since young children apparently aren’t supposed to have any type of cold medicine, I rely on our trusty vaporizer, Maty’s Children’s Cough Syrup, and lots of Maty’s Baby Chest Rub.

The vaporizer is something I purchased right before Nora was born and has been SO helpful over the past 4 years. I found Maty’s Healthy Products a couple years ago after hitting so many dead-ends looking for something I could give my young children to help with common cough and cold symptoms (besides just Tylenol).

Since then, we’ve been using several of the Maty’s products for our whole family (their adult cough syrup tastes almost as good as jam!)

eucalyptus-oil-safe-for-babies-400x275

The Baby Chest Rub is especially popular in our house because our kids love the smell of it! Plus, Nora is not big on ingesting any type of medicine, so the fact that the chest rub is topical is a win-win for everyone 🙂

I also made good use out of their adult Vapor Rub when I was pregnant (I tend to get stuffed up more easily when I’m pregnant) and it was so nice not to worry about any added chemicals or anything that might otherwise be unhealthy for pregnant women.

Just an FYI, the Maty’s Healthy Products are available at most RiteAid and CVS stores, along with the Maty’s website.

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I Encourage Them to Drink LOTS of Water:

I usually let the kids have whatever salty snacks they want when they have colds, mainly because it gets them to drink lots and lots of water. (Veggie straws, pretzels, and Goldfish crackers are some of their favorites.)

In general, my kids are really good about drinking water; in fact, Nora still will not drink anything but water! However, I know that a little extra water won’t hurt them, and hopefully, it will help to flush out the cold just a little bit faster!

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I Clear My Schedule:

Whenever my kids are even slightly under the weather, I’ve realized that there is almost no point in trying to run errands, get out and about, or do anything “extra” around the house. The kids are so much fussier, and I just end up frazzled if I try to do too much while still caring for them.

So I clear my schedule and prepare for lots of time on the couch, lounging in our PJ’s, reading books, watching Netflix shows and movies… and praying that they take long naps! I’ll also give them nice warm baths in the middle of the afternoon — which they actually really like!

On rare occasions, I can even get Nora to take a “rest” with me when she’s not feeling great. I usually give her some type of reward if she lays in our bed with me during Simon and James’ naps — which means I get a little extra rest too (see, I really am getting better at this motherhood thing!)

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Again, we’ve been pretty lucky not to have too many bouts with colds or other sicknesses — but even still, it’s nice to have a plan and the appropriate supplies for when those nasty germs invade our house!

I had to laugh a couple weeks ago when Nora said, “I’m sure glad Moms can’t get sick, otherwise who would do everything for us and take care of us!”

Let’s just cross our fingers and hope this mom stays healthy for another cold and flu season!

A big thanks to Maty’s Healthy Products for sponsoring this post and making it possible for me to provide all of the content on my blog free of charge! My opinions are 100% my own! Please see my full disclosure policy and contact me with any questions you have.

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28 comments

  1. Chris

    11/12/2015

    I’ve relied on natural remedies for years now (when my husband was diagnosed with cancer….sadly,he passed away 3 years ago). Essential oils and saline nasal rinses in the shower really work! I would say the number one prevention is hand washing. I work in a corporate environment and I am astonished at the number of women who either don’t wash their hands or don’t wash them correctly after using the ladies room!! Simply putting soap on your hands and then rinsing with water is not washing your hands. Put enough soap on your hands then rub, rub, rub while saying the alphabet or singing happy birthday in your head, then rinse! Love your blog Andrea! Your children are precious!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    So sorry to hear about your husband Chris.

    Thanks for your tips and your kind words. I’ve successfully used the saline nasal drops on James and Simon — Nora, of course, won’t let me touch her with them!

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  2. Nicole

    11/12/2015

    I have recently developed a love affair with essential oils. They made my 4 year old’s latest cold so much easier! There are all kinds of websites for safe essential oil use with kids. I have an inexpensive diffuser in each child’s room and they love them! I don’t believe they’re the miracle cure that some people do, but they make the house (and the kids) more pleasant. 🙂

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  3. Lauri

    11/12/2015

    I strongly recommend Qore 24 . It is a mechanical kill type of hand sanitizer and lasts 24 hours.. No alcohol either. I found it on a trip to Arizona and now I can find it in California where I live.

    [Reply]

    Tara Reply:

    Thanks for posting about Qore 24 Lauri! That looks amazing and I refuse to use other hand sanitizers because of their toxicity and the triclosan. 24 hour virus/bacteria protection is SUPER appealing right about now. 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    well, I’ve never heard of this. I’ll have to look into it!

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  4. Chris K in Wisconsin

    11/12/2015

    Hi, Andrea! I was happy to see someone mentioned the toothbrush replacement! For adults, too, when they are sick. So many people forget to do that. I still clean doorknobs in and out of the bathroom during the day when anyone is ill, (and our “kids” are 42 and 37 and don’t live with us), but we forget to do that for ourselves. I also think that it is important to build up the immunity for our kids. We can’t keep them in a bubble, but need to be careful, especially during this time of the year. I hope you are able to find some rubber gloves for sweet Nora. Bet that would be an amazing BD gift that lots of little girls wouldn’t appreciate…..but I am sure Nora would!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — yes, nora would love the rubber gloves. So far, I haven’t found any, but I’ll keep looking!

    And yes, immunity is good… but sick little James is not 🙂 Here’s hoping the germs stay away this winter!

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  5. Sarah

    11/12/2015

    Sounds like you have a great system for when the sniffles hit. Anytime we have a sniffle cold etc I run out and buy elderberry syrup. It gives the immune system a boost and helps dry out stuff. The taste isn’t too offensive, but you can hide pretty much anything in blueberry juice.

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  6. JJ

    11/12/2015

    Sorry to hear the kiddos were sick, but wow! You have a great plan of attack when they are. I love the idea of baths in the middle of the day. And I completely agree about clean bed sheets! We also love the Zarbee’s immune booster for kids. It tastes horrible, but you can mix in a smoothie or other foods. I feel like it really works. Because of your other post, I’ve been more aware of having the kids wash their hands more frequently. I wash mine all the time, but it’s important for them to as well. Great reminder!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yay — hand washing is always a good thing to get into the habit of doing. It’s so simple yet can really save a lot of illnesses from spreading around your home!

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  7. Melanie G

    11/12/2015

    Thank you for this! I wish I’d had it a week ago when our 9 month old daughter (our first) came down with her first cold 😉

    I knew I should wash the toys but figured I should wait until the snot-fest had subsided. Next time, I’ll wash them in the beginning.

    It really is heartbreaking when a baby’s stuffy nose makes it hard to eat! And it’s been stressful for us because our daughter isn’t a great eater, anyway. One bonus – eating solids is easier than milk, so I think this stuffy nose may finally have pushed her over the hump into eating other things more regularly.

    One thing we’ve found helpful this week are Boogie Wipes, which a friend gave us with high recommendations. E hates having her nose cleared with the snot-sucker (can’t say I blame her), but the saline wipes are gentle and softer than a tissue or handkerchief, and work really well. I will stock up on Maty’s next time, too.

    Unfortunately, I did catch E’s cold – I’d love for Nora’s sweet statement to be true!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Booo… sorry that you got the cold too 🙁
    And thanks for the reminder about the Boogie Wipes. We had those when Nora was a baby (also as a gift) and I think I might still have 1 unopened pack in the changing table drawers. It might be time to resurrect that for the upcoming cold/flu season!

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  8. April

    11/12/2015

    I understand how hard it can be when a “high needs” child gets a cold. My daughter used to over-react as well. She would get so angry with her nose for being stuffy and running that she would punch it. It seems a bit humorous now, but certainly not at the time. My kids were relatively healthy until my daughter started preschool, then of course she came in contact with a lot of colds, and brought them home to her brother.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — Nora has actually slapped herself in the face for the same reason (and then, of course, started crying because it hurt to hit her own face!)

    Also, yes, I’ve noticed that Nora has had more runny noses since school started. It’s annoying — but there’s really no way around it. Her school is cleaned well — but there are lots of kids there and kids are gross! I figure she’s just building up her immunities… however, it would be nice if she didn’t keep bringing the germs home with her!

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    Brandette W. Reply:

    Yes, Andrea, the start of little one’s in school seems to bring on all the nasties! Our son just started school this year and since starting the end of July, we were getting sick about every other week with colds….no joke! He would get it and of course share it with either Mommy or Daddy.

    I have been told that this happens when kids first start school since they haven’t been exposed to a lot yet and it does help build their immune systems in the long run. It’s just so rough at first!

    Worst part is the schools here in the Midwest where I live only allow 7 unexcused days. Heck, if I would have kept my son home when I really felt he should have, he would have used all 7 days the first few months!! I understand the reason for the rule, but, I HATE it! I hate it because that means all parents are sending their kids to school visibly sick, infecting all the others and bringing it home. It makes me mad. Before my son started school, we always stayed home and out of public places (barring a doctor’s visit of course) when he was sick. I don’t want to catch it from others, I certainly don’t want my son to be the reason others get sick. Now I have no choice. One of the worst feelings is sending your little one off to school knowing they don’t feel well, but they must go. It’s not bad enough to warrant the expense of a doctor’s visit when they can’t give them anything unless there is an infection, but bad enough that they are tired and definitely don’t feel well. And this is just in Kindergarten so far…..ugh. LOL

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    wow — I’m not sure if Nora’s preschool has any policy for sickness or being absent for any other reason.

    Fun fact… I only missed ONE day of school in my entire life for being sick! Hopefully my kiddos will follow in their mommy’s healthy footsteps!

    [Reply]

  9. Liane

    11/12/2015

    One little bit of advice for preventing viruses from entering your home. Where I live there are a lot of recent immigrants who have not caught on to things like coughing in your sleeve rather than your hand or using the sanitizing wipes at stores. I’m not being judgemental here, just saying what I observe on a daily basis. I also see lots of sick kids out and about (you know, the ones with the telltale upper lip…).

    So my defense is yes by all means use the free cart wipes when you go in a store! But my secret trick is to use another on your way out before you touch your keys, car door handle, steering wheel etc. Never use the stylus at the checkstand — use your finger. And never use the pen chained to the checkstand, either. If you have to write a check bring your own pen. Then, use sanitizer – usually the checkers have some. Think about all the things you have touched in the store! Never eat anything in a store, like a grape to see if they are yummy. Don’t open food bags and dip in to them with your dirty mitts, either!

    Lest anyone think I am paranoid, let me tell you that as part of my public health training I had an assignment to culture and identify unknown pathogens found out in the wild. I was shocked by how many bugs I found in grocery stores, on drinking fountains, etc. — these being bacteria, not viruses, of course, but that eye opening experience taught me that public places are germy!

    So my best piece of advice is shop with your eyes open, keep your children from touching things that others may have touched, and don’t let them eat at the store. We always tell our kids to wash up before dinner and after using the toilet. Why on earth would we handle dirty money or knobs and handles and then hand them food?

    My belief is that if we do all we can to prevent our little ones from becoming sick using simple methods like hand washing and sanitizers it will make it a lot easier for all. Remember, they say that viruses we get on our hands get a hold on us from us rubbing our eyes and noses. So since kids never remember to not do that, keep those little hands clean.

    One more thing to launder when you are doing the stuffed animals and toys is mittens and gloves! And if anyone does get a cold replace the toothbrush they use.

    Most of these tips came out of my public health nursing education but was bolstered when I had a family member on chemotherapy, where a common cold was not simply a nuisance but could become a deadly infection.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh my word… why have I never thought about the whole toothbrush thing!!! I just replaced both their toothbrushes. Thanks!

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  10. Jen T

    11/12/2015

    Oh, that picture of Simon with the glassy eyes is SO pathetic 🙁 Glad everyone is feeling better!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I know… and that was on his first birthday. It was really the only time he was actually sick, but it really is so sad to look at!

    [Reply]

  11. Amy

    11/12/2015

    I’d never heard of Maty’s natural products before! Thanks, hopefully we won’t need them….haha, but I’m going to check them out:)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, hopefully you won’t need them 🙂

    [Reply]

  12. Emily

    11/12/2015

    Haha Nora! Yes, mom can never get sick!! 😉 Great tips Andrea! I always love clean sheets when we’re sick. I’ve been using essential oils for a couple years now. Have found those to be a great way to relieve symptoms. I’ve been running a diffuser with an immune booster for the past few days as we seem to be fighting the sniffles and coughs too. Hope everyone is feeling better again!!

    [Reply]

  13. Kellie

    11/12/2015

    Bwahahahahahaha I rolled at Norah’s comment! She’s such a sweet little girl! Thanks for such a helpful (and timely) post. I think colds are about to kick in over here…

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Nora is always good for a few laughs 🙂 Good luck with cold season in your house Kellie!

    [Reply]

  14. Paulette

    11/12/2015

    Andrea, you’re a wonderful mother and Nora is an amazing child. I’m always stunned at her comments! I think my third child was somewhat high needs like Nora. Too bad that in those days, resources to assist with my questions, frustrations and struggles were pretty much NIL (she’s 37). Enjoy your blog so much.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Paulette! It is very helpful to have so much information available these days. The internet has its downfalls, but there are sure benefits when it comes to massive amounts of information and help at your fingertips!

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