I do some version of this post every year — generally when I am struck down by some miserable cold/sinus infection/bronchitis hell virus — and this year is no exception. (Currently, it’s just a nasty cold going through our household.) But every year, thanks to experience, and friends’ suggestions, pediatrician recommendations, and y’all’s input here on Wee, I find new stuff that makes weathering these illness-laden months a little easier. So here, the annual cold/allergy/flu season survival list.*
*no medicine included here, of course. We’re no doctors : ).
1. The Nose Frida (obviously) and unscented, gentle Boogie Wipes.
I’ve said before that I always thought Boogie Wipes were high-rankers on the list of unnecessary items in the baby aisle. But I was wrong: They’re great on (gross) hardened boogies and grime that attaches itself to little faces, and gentle on over-wiped, chapped noses. I’m a total convert. And speaking of noses …
2. Saline (for kids) and neti pot (for grown-ups).
After our first dry-air-induced nosebleed — a totally disgusting gusher that freaked all of us out — I’m not skipping a night of nose drops. It’s also good for helping stuffy noses, of course — and there is much weeping and gnashing of teeth every time we use them, they really do help. And in terms of the neti pot? Personally, I just think they work better than the saline sprays. We always keep one in the house.
3. Clementines, tangelos, grapefruit, homemade smoothies and Sip ‘N Glo
Citrus is one of the few foods that cuts through dulled taste buds, and it has the Vitamin C thing going for it. We eat some form of orange or grapefruit every day of winter (twice as much when sick), and it never stops feeling like a treat. I’m also really big into smoothies when I’m sick, because they soothe raw throats and are easy to drink even when your appetite is a little down: My whole family likes the version I make with a whole bunch spinach (or kale, or arugula), frozen berries and/or pineapple, a whole banana, and a cup or so of plain nonfat Greek yogurt. For liquid, I use a little water and the pomegranate green tea from Trader Joe’s (you can buy it buy the half-gallon) — though I know several people who go for almond milk, as well. Sometimes I squeeze yet another orange into the blender. And finally, when we need a healthy, tasty pick-me-up, nothing beats Sip ‘N Glo’s Green Beast juice or Honey Love smoothie.
4. Humidifiers all around.
I think general wisdom leans toward cool mist humidifiers (as there’s no hot water that could burn someone), but we put our warm ones out of kid reach, and I like that it makes the room a bit warmer on those freezing winter nights.
5. Fleece sheets.
So warm, so cozy and comforting, and far superior to flannel. (Warmer, less static-y.)
6. Kleenex tissues with lotion.
They’re just the softest. (It’s been proven.) We also have these very old cloth napkins that have been washed so many times they feel like an old t-shirt. Sometimes I stick a couple of those in my bag to use on runny noses, too.
7. Clean Well hand sanitizer.
During cold/flu season, this is much as a courtesy to others as it is to protect us from still more germs: At home we use soap and water, but also have bottles of this stuff about every 10 feet or so for between washings. (Okay, part of that is because we have a new baby. But still.) It’s botanically based, so I don’t feel weird about using a ton of it. (Also: Forever indebted to Wee friend Paige Wolf for turning us onto this.)
8. Warm compresses.
First thing in the morning, wiping down a sweet baby face with warmth eases a little sinus pressure, cleans his little nose, and is a nice way to wake up. One of the few sickie rituals we both seem to like.
9. Ricola Herb Throat Drops, Natural Cherry Honey
For my money, these are the best (non-nasty) cough drops for grown-ups (and kids 6 and older, according to packaging).
10. Eucalyptus oil.
This one — another for the grown-ups — was recommended by a midwife when I was pregnant and wasn’t taking any over-the-counter decongestants. It worked so well, I still use it: A sinkful of very hot water, a few drops of eucalyptus oil, a towel over the head and sink, and some deep breaths. It helps clear the nasal passages and lungs quite well. (I buy mine at Whole Foods.)
11. Celestial Seasonings lemon zinger tea.
Caffeine-free, accessible (it’s your basic grocery store tea; nothing fancy), and also tart, tangy, a touch sweet, and a very pretty pink color (because it’s a hibiscus tea). Again, that citrus really cuts through your dulled senses. It easily helps me double my liquid intake. (In a pinch, I’ll drink the Peppermint version, too, which can be refreshing.) There are much pricier teas that I love just as much, but in terms of bang for your buck you can’t beat this stuff.
12. Vicks BabyRub.
I know there are organic, natural, gentler versions of this stuff (I hear Honest Company makes a good one; I also know that Babyganics makes both a rub and a cold-soothing soap for the bath), but personally, we’ve only ever used the Baby Vicks on chest and feet (not face), with solid results. I use this version on myself sometimes, too, when desperate: It helps.
13. Cetaphil for everyone.
For face skin, for skin under the nose, for the dry skin that seems to go alongside colds and sinus infections and allergy attacks, and for hands that are rough from all the washing. (I also have in the past used Gloves in a Bottle hand lotion after washing hands or doing dishes, and I swear, it is miraculous. I bought it at the hardware store, of all places, but you can find on Amazon, too.) We’re also huge CeraVe fans at our house — I love the baby lotion — because it is thick and creamy, but not sticky. It’s like wearing nothing, but it really soaks in nicely to moisturize.
14. The salves and balms.
Our go-to list is pretty short. First, there’s Terry Baume de Rose. I’ve written about this magical stuff a bunch, but this little pot of pale pink balm is something I use on myself all winter, and am especially grateful for when I have chapped nose or mouth. It’s un-sticky and un-glossy, and very rich and very soothing on the skin, and has even better staying power on the face than lotion. Also, it smells deliciously of roses. Though my latest obsession for lips — adult and kid lips — is the Beauty Counter peppermint lip conditioner. It smells delicious and works really well overnight. I think if a child’s lips are really chapped, the peppermint might not be the best idea — but we also swear by good old Vaseline for everything from wind-chapped cheeks and lips to chafed thighs to diapered bottoms to any and all patches of sensitive skin that get irritated by the elements. I have a tub of the stuff in every room in the house.