6 Things You MUST Do To Protect Your Baby From Breathing Problems in Winter
8 mins read
Health & Safety for Baby
The winters are here, bringing along cold weather and chilly winds! In this weather, we are at risk for a host of seasonal problems like colds, dry skin, and - breathing problems. The critical thing to remember is that we face these problems not just outside, but inside our homes as well. If we, as adults, face such health problems in the cold months, one can only imagine the effect of the winter air on our delicate little babies!
The season of warm blankets and cozy snuggles is here. But along with winter comes increased the risk of infections and susceptibility to breathing problems among babies. The air around contains potential viruses and other factors that could trigger respiratory discomfort. However, simple measures can keep them safe and allow comfortable breathing in this season.
Well, this needn't be as difficult as it sounds. According to doctors, the best way to combat the cold is to maintain the right temperature and air moisture for your baby. When it gets cold, your baby needs ample humidity to combat dry skin, colds and yes, sore throats too. So how do you maintain the right temperature and air moisture? Here are some effective tips and products that will keep your baby safe during these cold winter months:
Causes of Breathing Problems during Winters
It can be very painful for parents to see their baby coughing or struggling with a blocked nose. What makes your precious little one more sensitive is the fact that she has a weaker immune system. Plus, the over-the-top medications that you can take when you're under the weather is unsafe for your baby. This means that keeping your free from cold-related breathing problems can be a real challenge. The following are some reasons why breathing problems during winter are quite common amongst babies:
Higher allergy rate: The presence of allergens in the air is one of the causes of winter allergies. The dust allergens enter your baby’s lungs and can cause severe congestion. Due to lack of proper ventilation, these dust allergens don’t have space to travel around and therefore hover above people inside their homes.
An existing respiratory problem: If your baby has an existing respiratory condition like Asthma, it tends to get worse during this season. A simple cold virus can trigger severe asthma attacks. An asthma patient has weak and reactive lungs and is therefore very prone to a possible attack. The same applies to babies suffering from acute bronchitis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)- all causing weaker lung function.
Increased RSV in the air: Along with allergens, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is present all over during winters. It is the most significant and common respiratory virus that affects infants and young children. In fact, it is estimated that nearly all infants will have been infected at least once by the time they reach two years of age.
Also Watch: How to identify breathing problems in infants In this video, the expert talks about the signs you must look for to identify any breathing abnormality/distress in babies
Key Takeaway: Check for the signs that start with the letters in BREATHING:
B- Breathing sounds
R- Rate of breathing
E- Eye Contact
A- Abdominal breathing & appearance
H- Heavy breathing
I- Inner rib retractions
N- Nasal flaring
Tips to Deal With Baby Breathing Problems in Winters
To keep the cold away, we try to keep our house as warm as possible. While this keeps us comfortable, it also results in low air humidity. This low humidity facilitates easier spreading of infections and aggravates skin and breathing problems. Here are some ways you can keep breathing problems at bay during the winter season.
Use these precautions for winter clothes
We often over-dress our baby to keep the cold and associated allergens away. But as per experts, it is best to dress your baby in layers instead of pure warm clothes. This way you can discard a layer if it gets too warm. Plus, the layers of clothes will keep your baby safe from the dry air and dry skin that comes along with it. Generally, your baby should be wearing only one layer more than you do. Use mittens, socks and bonnets to keep your baby’s hands, feet and head warm. Also make sure that you use soft, breathable materials as your baby’s skin is delicate. Additionally, do not clothe your baby in too many layers or cover the head when he sleeps - these can lead to overheating! Check out more guidelines to dress your baby when he sleeps here.
Install humidifiers at home
The main reason behind breathing problems in winter is low humidity. And this is exactly what a humidifier can fix! These devices can maintain the optimum temperature of the house and create a pleasantly humid environment for your baby. Humidifiers also reduce the spread of diseases like the flu while also providing comfort to those affected by them. This will ensure that even if your baby is unwell, he will find help with any breathing issues caused by the cold. Bottomline: humidifiers can be true lifesavers for your baby!
Protect your baby from pollution
Apart from the low humidity, winters also tend to aggravate breathing issues because of the high levels of pollution and fog - which combine to create smog! This is very harmful to your baby and can expose him to several lung-related problems. If you live in a particularly smog-prone area, and your kids are old enough to venture outside, ensure that they are wearing a mask whenever they go out. You should also protect your child from other sources of pollution, especially indoors, by steering clear of dangerous processed foods and opting only for fresh, homemade food for your baby.
If you're wondering how this is connected to breathing, here's some amazing news: science has proven that breastfeeding helps develop your baby’s immunity in such a way that he is protected from breathing problems and diseases! So, breastfeeding is not just great to give your baby the right amount of nutrients, but it also helps your baby stay healthy when the temperatures dip.
Give your baby an oil massage
Massaging babies is known to improve circulation and is believed to improve immunity as well. But in winters, massaging babies also helps keep them warm and moisturized! While massaging your baby in winters, ensure that the room as well as your hands are warm. You can also use hot oil but ensure that the oil is not too hot by testing it with your elbows first. If the oil is too hot, it can burn the baby’s skin or cause rashes. Also, check with your doctor first in case your baby or you have a history of eczema.
Frequently wash hands before touching baby
Finally, do not forget to frequently wash your hands with warm water and soap before handling the baby. Also, ensure this for whoever handles your baby other than you. This simple habit can prevent the spread of germs and infection that cause diseases and breathing-related infections.
If your baby still comes down with a breathing problem this winter, don't delay in visiting the paediatrician to start treatment. It's safest to stay away from any products that you use as an adult. You can, however, use nasal aspirators to help them breathe and clear their blocked nose. Saline drops are also useful for this.
Did You Know- A Camera Can Help You Rescue Your Breathless Baby!
The concept of a smart baby camera isn’t new and is always helpful for parents as it allows them to monitor their baby constantly. However, there now exists a camera that will also alert you when your baby faces difficulty in breathing.
A company called First Alert has come up with a smart camera (Onelink Envirocam) that can monitor an infant’s respiration rate from afar. In fact, it automatically detects the micro-movements of a baby’s breathing and keeps track of respiration rates throughout the night. This activity is carried out without having to put any sensor on baby’s clothing. It also has additional environmental sensors that help track room temperature, humidity, sleep quality and carbon monoxide levels in the air.
The data can be tracked on the accompanying mobile application, an immediate alert is triggered in case any abnormality is observed in the data.
This camera is currently not available in Indian markets, but sure sounds like a genius use of technology!
Do you have any other tips and tricks to keep breathing problems away from your little one? Share them in the comments below and spread the love!