Baby Aspirators and Baby Vacs for Colds
It's rough when your baby gets a cold. It can take a toll both physically, and mentally, on you and your child. They can't blow their nose, and don't understand what is happening, and you can feel totally helpless. The only tools you have are maybe a baby aspirator (or a baby vac), and a thermometer. But there are some things you can do.
Of course, the best medicine is prevention, but chances are, your baby will contract several colds. It is not uncommon for babies to have 7 or more colds within their first year of life. This is because a baby's immune system is not yet developed sufficiently to build immunities to the viruses that cause colds. But before you automatically break out the baby vac, you need a little more information.
It may help to understand a little about colds. The common cold is caused by a number of viruses called rhinoviruses, coronal viruses, enteroviruses, parainfluenza viruses, and others. There are over 200 known types of viruses that can cause colds, and more are being discovered all the time, due to mutations. It is not uncommon for there to be several types of viruses involved in a single cold episode. The viruses are spread both by airborne methods (sneezing), direct, and indirect contact. The viruses can survive for extended periods outside the body (and in the bulb of a baby aspirator), making complete environmental sterilization difficult.
Common symptoms are fever, sneezing, cough, and a runny nose (which is where a baby aspirator can help), usually all within 16 days of exposure to the viruses. Even in the 21st century, there is no cure for the common cold, but the good news is that in most cases. the viruses will run their course in 7 to 10 days. In small children, the cold can persist for up to 25 days, due to an incomplete immune system. Breast-fed babies have a higher resistance to colds, because they get some immunities from the mother. Treatment involves keeping the baby well hydrated, controlling fever, allowing the baby to get plenty of rest, and making it comfortable.
One way to make your baby more comfortable is to keep it's nasal passages clear to allow for easier breathing. Babies cannot blow their noses, and mucous build-up can make breathing more difficult. The human nose is designed to drain out when the head is in an upright position. Since babies can't stand or sit on their own, mucous can drain back into the nasal passages, into the stomach, lungs, and even into the Eustachian tubes and into the inner ear, causing earaches, stomach aches, and persistent cough. Removing excess mucous from the nasal passages can help prevent this. Caution: Before using any type of baby aspirator or baby vac, be sure to spray the nasal passages liberally with a saline solution and allow it to set for a few minutes to loosen dried mucous.
The simplest type of baby aspirator is a rubber bulb-syringe. This is a nozzle on a short stem, with a manually operated 'bulb' on the end. You just squeeze the bulb to create a vacuum, insert the end of the nozzle gently into the baby's nostril (not too far). and slowly release pressure on the bulb. The vacuum will draw the mucous into the bulb. Then, just repeat for the other nostril .Be sure to clean and sterilize the baby aspirator before, and after each use, and wear latex gloves. It's also a good idea to wear a surgical mask while doing this, because you can be exposed to the viruses yourself.
For those who like more technical gadgets, you may want to invest in a baby vac. A baby vac is a device that sucks mucous from your child's nose using the vacuum from your vacuum cleaner (but not the power, so if you have a Kirby, or a Rainbow, don't worry. It will still work...). The baby vac has a small hose, nozzle, collection reservoir, and another hose to attach the baby vac mechanism to your vacuum cleaner. The baby vac work more like the aspirators that a doctor uses in the office.
Whichever system you decide to use, be sure to thoroughly clean and sanitize every part of the devices before and after each use, to prevent re-infection. With proper use, and care, baby aspirators, and baby vacs can be a great help in managing your baby's cold.