Nothing strikes fear into parents of babies and young kids as much as the thought of the upcoming cold and flu season. With back-to-school, you just know you’re in for multiple rounds of seemingly never-ending coughs, fevers and runny noses. Babies and toddlers under two average 10-12 colds per year (yep, you read that right) while those ages 2-5 average about nine. All of those numbers are too high!
But since there’s not much you can do to help your youngster’s immune system build itself up faster, it’s important to have all the supplies on hand so that you’re prepped when sickness strikes. Particularly because most illnesses tend to hit at inopportune times — like late at night when the local drugstore is closed.
We rounded up the three items you need to make it through cold and flu season with kids intact. Here are our parent recommended must-haves for helping your little one(s) feel better fast:
This is key for obvious reasons: kids spike fevers, but may often feel warmer to the touch than they actually are. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a fever is defined as anything over 100.4. For a baby under 3 months, a temp of 100.4 or higher is reason to call your pediatrician ASAP. For babies and children over 3 months, a fever is a very normal response to an illness, but if your child’s temp spikes up to 104 repeatedly or they show other signs of serious illness, you should call your doctor.
No one wants to take their child’s temp this way, but unfortunately it is the most accurate way to measure a fever in children under the age of 3.
Kinsa Smart Thermometer for Fever ($16.99 on Amazon)
Usually we’re fans of keeping things super simple when it comes to baby gadgets, but here we’ll make an exception. We like that this thermometer is multi-use (rectal and oral — you’ll want to get covers, obvi!) and while you don’t need to have the app to use it, it’s honestly pretty helpful! When you’re up with a feverish baby in the night, it can be hard to remember when you last gave medicine and what the temp was at that time. The app lets you easily keep track so no one accidentally gives baby meds before it’s time and it has a fun distraction mode for those long seconds while you (and your kiddo) are waiting for the temperature reading.
iProven Medical Digital Ear Thermometer with Temporal Forehead Function ($29.99 on Amazon)
Generally considered not quite as accurate, particularly for young kids as noted above, forehead readings are certainly far easier to administer. If you have kids under three, you might want to use this to gut check that your child does, in fact, have a fever, and then use the rectal thermometer to confirm specific temp. Either way, we’re fans of this model, which wins us over off the bat by actually coming with the batteries you need for it to work! We also like that it has an easy-to-follow instruction sheet for accurate readings and thanks to backlighting and a “mute” mode, works great for checking the temp of little ones who may be asleep.
One of the less fun parts of parenthood — at some point in your baby’s life, you will end up syringing (or sucking) snot out of their nose. Here are our two favorites in each of those categories. (Also, whichever route you take, be sure to keep some nasal saline on hand to help loosen thick mucous before suctioning and make baby more comfortable.)
fridababy NoseFrida ($19.89 on Amazon)
Literally suctioning snot from your baby’s nose using your own mouth is definitely not the most enjoyable experience, but the reality is, it works. And works well. The NoseFrida is easy to clean afterwards (key!) and can even go in the dishwasher. Plus it comes with extra hygiene filters — again key because you need to replace them after every use. Just know that if your baby is sick, these filters won’t necessarily keep you from catching their germs. But chances are, if baby is sick, so are you.
OCCObaby Baby Nasal Aspirator ($37.80 on Amazon)
The OCCObaby uses gentle, battery-powered, suction to comfortably remove mucous from your baby or toddler’s nose.We like the it for a lot of reasons, including that it’s super easy to clean so you don’t have to worry about mold or other bacteria growing inside. (Something you do need to worry about with bulb syringes.) We also like that it includes three tip sizes, so it can grow with your baby, and that you don’t have to worry about buying filters or replacement parts. Even when it’s not cold and flu season, we recommend having this on hand with young kids — we promise you’ll use it!
BEST COOL MIST HUMIDIFIER
Though it may seem counterintuitive, when buying a humidifier for your child’s room, you want to look for one that is cool mist, not warm. Hot water or steam from a warm mist humidifier could burn your child if they accidentally got too close or if there was a spill. Both warm and cold humidify the air equally well and cold mist has been shown to be effective in helping ease coughing and congestion.
Honeywell HCM350W Germ Free Cool Mist Humidifier ($52.88 on Amazon)
The two key features you want in a humidifier: 1) That it’s easy to clean and 2) That it won’t grow mold. That’s why we love the Honeywell: it has UV technology that kills 99.9% of germs in the water AND it’s won numerous awards, including one for being easy to clean. Plus, the one gallon tank is large enough to run for 24 hours on low in a bedroom or other medium-sized room and it won’t over-humidify your space.
Editorial Director of MamasUncut. Currently back on the East Coast. Most days spent chasing after two young kids and our very patient rescue mutt. Learning that parenting never really gets easier it just gets … different. Love running and water views. Also all the coffee.
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