Our household is already handing off a cold from one to another, so it’s a good time to start talking about what to do when a nursing baby gets sick.
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Should You Continue Breastfeeding a Sick Baby?

YES! It is crucial to continue to Continue to nurse your baby as you regularly would and allow for on-demand nursing sessions as they need it.  Your milk will help to keep baby hydrated and nourished during their illness.  If your little one is older, I would even suggest letting them nurse before offering any other types of food or drink.  As you nurse, your body gets feedback from your baby and will make the antibodies your baby needs to become well again and rebuild their immune system.
Nurse your baby if they have a fever, cold, or croup.

How to Nurse a Baby with a Cold

This is sometimes easier said than done if your baby is having a difficult time breathing.  A runny nose or congestion can cause frustration for your baby when they are trying to nurse.  Here are a few tips to help you both find success during this time.

  1. Use Saline drops – Make sure these are JUST saline and do not include any other ingredients!  Put a drop or two in baby’s nose and use a suction device to clear out baby’s nasal passages before nursing.
  2. Prop your baby up in a sitting position to nurse – Either an upright cradle position or belly to belly will work great here.  Support your baby as needed and is appropriate for their age.
  3. Keep their airway clear – Take extra care to make sure your breast tissue is not blocking any airflow to their nose.
  4. Nurse in the bathroom while the shower running or use a humidifier if you have one –  The steam will help to break up any congestion your baby may be experiencing.
  5. Be patient and nurse as much as baby wants – It will probably take your baby longer to nurse than usual, and they will probably need to nurse more often.  Don’t assume your normal nursing schedule will be enough.  Take a deep breath and put your chores aside, your baby needs you.

Should You Nurse a Baby Who is Vomiting or has Diarrhea?

What if Baby Doesn’t Want to Breastfeed?

If you baby is uninterested in nursing while sick then you may want to try a different method to get your milk into them.  Truly, the best method is to get them to nurse directly from you.  That is how your body will collect the data it needs to build the antibodies your baby needs, so even if they aren’t interested, try to get them to nurse every hour or so.

If baby won’t nurse directly from you, then pump your milk and give it to them in a bottle, cup, or syringe.  If your baby is still uninterested, try freezing some of your milk in a small popsicle mold. If your child has a sore throat, this may help to soothe the pain.


Should I Nurse if I am Sick and Baby is Healthy?

YES! Even if you are sick, your baby still needs to be fed and comforted.  Odds are pretty good that if you are sick, your baby has already been exposed to it even before you showed any symptoms.  Continue to nurse your baby as you normally would.  You cannot pass your illness to your baby through your breastmilk.  In fact, your body will create antibodies your baby needs to help prevent them from getting your sickness.

If you are sick enough to need medication, be especially cautious.  Tell your doctor you are breastfeeding so they can prescribe something that will be safe for you and baby.  If you are looking for over the counter medications, carefully read the back to be sure it’s safe for breastfeeding moms.  If you are unsure of what is safe to take, then consider some natural solutions (listed here) while you contact your doctor before taking anything over the counter.


What Can I do to Keep My Baby from Getting My Cold? (or flu)

There are a few ways to help keep your baby healthy when you are sick.

  1. Keep your body clean– Wash hands/arms, shower, or change clothes before being in direct contact with your baby.  You know how sick or gross you are from being sick.  Do what you need to in order to stay clean and not pass those nasty germs to your baby.
  2. Avoid close face to face contact–  Common illnesses are spread through the air or skin contact.  Now is not the time to be face to face with them.  Obviously, avoid coughing or sneezing over your little one too.
  3. Drink a TON of fluids–  It’s pretty common for people to become dehydrated when they are sick.  Drinking water will not only help you stay hydrated, but it will also help you to maintain your milk supply.
Until next time,
Melissa, xoxo, Sign off

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