I wonder what Wilma Flintstone and Betty Rubble used to do when Pebbles and Bamm Bamm got sick. Even if there was a Bedrock Pharmacy, it would have taken forever to get there in the footmobile. There must have been some special soup made out of mastodon bones, but alas, only Emeril has the recipe. He has all of the Rubble Family secret recipes, which explains why he has to yell, “BAM!” when he cooks.
Baby cold medicine was supposedly invented to provide the baby some relief so he could get some sleep. Having survived through the colds of three babies, I now understand that the benefit is more for the sleep-deprived parent. At three o’clock in the morning, the baby’s medicine bottle is a groggy parent’s much needed friend.
Until recently, when a baby was miserable with a cold, you could give him a dose of infant cold medicine to soothe him to sleep. Unfortunately, exhausted parents started confusing teaspoons with tablespoons, and now these medications have been pulled from pharmacies for safety reasons. Desperate for sleep, parents are left with the search for alternatives. I was told by our pediatrician’s office to “use a humidifier.” That’s like being told to use a thimble of water to put out a fire. Even though a humidifier and vapor rub are supposed to replace antihistamines, they don’t clear up a baby’s severely congested nose.
Frantic parents are forced to rely on a relic from the Spanish Inquisition: the nasal plunger, a.k.a. The Torture Bulb. Ideally, mothers insert the nose syringe into their infant’s nostrils and extract the gunk while he coos peacefully. What really happens is that the baby screams and squirms to the point where the bulb goes every which way except into his tiny nostril. It takes a very steady hand, much like playing the Operation game. In this classic game, you have to operate on a cardboard patient – who looks like Fred Flintstone in boxers – by using tweezers. If your tweezers hit the metal edge of the opening, the patient’s nose lights up and buzzes. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen with your baby’s nose, but the nasal operation is even more difficult than removal of the Wish Bone AND the Bread Basket of the Hasbro game. (Trust me; even if a mom had been on the Hasbro marketing committee, there is no WAY they would have accepted Nasal Snot as one of the operations.) Even if you do miraculously get the bulb in your baby’s nostril, the odds of a successful extraction are minimal.
So, what’s the secret weapon? A WET COTTON SWAB. The good old Q-Tip. Gently swipe the damp swab near the opening of the nose, but be sure not to ram it too far up the nostril. You are not trying to extract grey matter from the brain, just the stuff at the front end of the nose. The gunk will cling to the wetness of the swab, allowing for a much easier removal than a bulb that never gets up the nose in the first place. Once your child is old enough to blow his nose first, this technique works even better.
If you have to administer prescription medicine to your baby, place the dropper as far back as possible on the inside of his cheek. This will prevent him from opening his mouth and drooling or spitting out most of the medicine. If he doesn’t want to drink the medicine, blowing in his face will force him to involuntarily swallow. It’s too bad this method won’t work in a few years, when you’re trying to get him to swallow his lima beans.