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Baby with a cold doesn't nap anywhere but outside
nature: cherry blossoms
karmik wrote in parenting101
Dear P101, help me out!

My 3-month-old has had a cold for almost three weeks now. He had fever for two or three days around 1,5 weeks but he has been feverless for well over a week now. As of right now he is slightly congested and has a cough, no other symptoms. He is happy and acts very much like a normal 3-month-old despite the slight cold.

My problem is that he doesn't nap well in his crib or cradle or anywhere else inside. Except in my lap, attached to my boob. I have a sling and a carrier but those don't work too well, he will scream. He doesn't like being restrained, so swaddling doesn't work either. He doesn't use a pacifier, I've tried recently but he only uses it for a bit and then spits it out and it does nothing to the quality of his naps. I use loud white noise when he sleeps but it only helps him not to wake up when I make noise around the apartment, but it doesn't make him sleep longer.

He generally sleeps only for about 10 minutes inside, before he will wake up.

But he sleeps REALLY WELL outside on the balcony in his stroller. Like really super well, he will sleep at least 2 hours every time and most of the time wakes up maybe once or twice and is soothed immediately back to sleep when I go and rock the stroller.

The thing is, however, that it's currently 6℃/43F outside! I bundle him up warmly and I know how to dress him so he will be warm but not sweating in the stroller, and my balcony has glass panes so not much wind gets there, and the stroller's open side is facing inside (away from the wind) anyway, and I generally cover it with a light cloth and leave just a crack so air will change inside the stroller.

However, I'm worried that the cold air will prolong his cold! He is definitely dressed appropriately but his face is exposed to cold air and he breathes cold air. I think the air is warmer inside the stroller because of his body heat and because I keep the stroller inside whenever he doesn't sleep in there (so I don't put him in a cold stroller), but the temperature inside the stroller is still far from room temperature of course.

So my choices are these:

1. Have him sleep outside so he will get loads of sleep which is important for healing, but expose his face and lungs to cool air.
2. Try to make him sleep inside, which will mean he won't get much sleep during the day and he will be cranky and tired, but at least he's not exposed to cold air which I worry might prolong his cold.

WWP101D?

Poll #1876362
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 40

What would you do?

View Answers
1. Decent sleep is more important so I would put him to sleep outside despite his cold and the cool weather
34 (89.5%)
2. I would deal with a cranky, tired baby that doesn't nap until the cold is properly healed
4 (10.5%)


Remember, he doesn't have a fever, only a runny nose and cough!

I have had him sleep in his stroller normally and his cold hasn't gotten worse, but it's not getting better either, and it's been 2 days short of 3 weeks now. :(

I think the problem isn't that the air is cold, but that it's dry. Here in the US doctors usually recommend running a humidifier when the baby is congested. no idea how you might remedy that, though...

My daughter slept in her stroller this way, when she was little, but she didn't have any colds until she got a bit older, at which point she was already napping at home. I am not sure what I would have done. I guess the short-term solution is to continue the naps outside, unless you think the baby is getting worse, because lack of sleep is certainly not conducive to feeling better.

That sounds like a good plan :) His cold definitely hasn't gotten worse even though he regularly sleeps outside in the stroller, so it can't be too bad... right?!

I can't imagine leaving my child out on a balcony to sleep.

We have started running a humidifier in the last couple days. The air is terribly dry.

Why not? Just curious :)

Yeah, I'm going to invest in one as soon as I can!

I'm pretty sure that cold air doesn't cause cold viruses or actually make cold viruses worse.

My youngest had awful croup just before he turned 1, to the point he was hospitalised for steroids and observation (it remains one of the most frightening experiences of my life; I was on the phone to the out of hours emergency GP begging to be seen, they were waffling and trying not to agree to see us, I held the phone next to Aleks's face so they could hear the stridor and the GP suddenly said "oh yes he does need to be seen by a doctor, end this call and dial 999 for an ambulance RIGHT NOW".). What really really helped him breathe was getting out into the cold night air. Ever since, if his coughs get croupy in winter, I wrap him up and take him out and it always helps. The paramedics told me it was something most people shied away from but something which would really help. So for me, cold air can be a positive.

Can you make up a bed and sleep out there with him, at all?

hearing cold air improving things made me think of croup.

I am not of the belief that cold air will prolong a cold, unless a child has a lung issue. My daughter has asthma and every cold goes to her chest and really humid hot air or reasonably cold air (-10c or lower) tends to set her off into a coughing fit. I actually think any fresh air would be better, especially if your son goes outside, and then comes in and his nose runs more. While it sucks in the interm, the sooner that guck gets out of his nose/sinuses, the better.

When congested, it's hard to sleep well as an adult, right? Think about being an uncomfortable baby in the same situation. It must be mighty annoying as a wee one to sleep with any cold symptoms. I'd be doing whatever you can to get him to sleep. The more sleep, the better, IMO.

If you are comfortable with him on the balcony and can hear him when he needs you, then yeah go for it. That's how my parents used to get me to sleep when I was little, and my grandparents getting my parents to sleep. It was just a way of life (but a lot safer to do so back then). Your setup looks reasonably safe. Go for it. We couldn't do this and my daughter was a really crappy sleeper as it was. I had to wear her constantly for a while, or do naps in motion. Sometimes when the swing wouldn't work, I'd pop her in the stroller and we'd walk around town...repeatedly. I just walked a lot when she was little.

For inside, make sure you have a humidifier running near baby to help with congestion.

Babies nap outside in Northern Europe, also in the winter. There are some guidelines one observes with smaller babies and colder weather as well as with illness, but a mild head cold is hardly an issue. You just bundle them up warmly (but not too warmly, if they're obviously red and sweaty that's too warm) and off you go. If your temperatures stay above -5C that's hardly an issue as long as you have a warm footmuff, and below that isn't bad for bigger children than yours.

Haha, and now I read the rest of your comments. Have the wee thing nap outside is all I'm saying! ;-) You could always leave the window open and bring the buggy indoors if you want your baby closer to you.

I think it has as much to do with the angle of the stroller as with the cold air. If it were me, I'd let him fall asleep out there and then bring him in, remove any blankets to keep him from overheating and let him continue sleeping in the stroller inside. Or you could try what we did in Child care and elevate one end of his crib mattress (place folded blanket or sofa pillow underneath)and put his head toward that end. Humidifiers are also VERY helpful. If you don't have one, keep a large pan of water going on the stove during the day to keep the humidity up.

My baby wakes up from the smallest noises and movement, so that would most likely wake him up :( And he wears a teddy bear suit inside a warm sleeping bag so even if I could get the sleeping bag off somehow without waking him, the teddy bear suit would still be too warm! But I will think about this and see if I can find a way to do it, thank you for the suggestion! :)

I will also elevate his crib and get a humidifier I can place near the crib! And in the meanwhile I will try your suggestion of using a pan of water going on the stove, thank you very much :)

I'd let him nap outside unless you see signs of it getting worse or it gets much colder. I am assuming you are talking about a sunroom type balcony, though, that is enclosed and not just an open-air space.

Sounds very reasonable! His cold definitely hasn't gotten worse even though he's been sleeping outside, so I'm not *too* worried, but I just wanted to hear people's opinions :)

I say let him nap outside on the porch ... which is a really nice "inside" porch btw! A baby getting lots of sleep in the fresh air will get over a cold faster than a tired baby kept inside.

That makes sense! :) Thank you!

6 degrees is really cold for a baby to sleep in, regardless of how you bundle them up. My opinion, of course, but I would never leave my baby outside to sleep in a temperature I sure wouldn't sleep outside in myself. It has nothing to do with whether or not the baby is ill, I've always held my babies/let them sleep on my nursing pillow for naps until they were about 1 year old or just over. They never slept well in the crib and I would rather they get decent sleep on me than anything else.

If you only have the one child so far (I even did this with my second though, and she's just starting to learn to sleep in her crib now at nearly 13 months) then what's the harm in letting him sleep on you? My youngest has only been ill once (at about 7 or 8 months) and I held her the whole time, for naps and for overnight just so she could get a decent rest.

Obviously I chose the second answer in the poll, but what I really meant is a third answer - hold baby for naps until he's better and maybe beyond? Maybe it's crazy what I did but now that my youngest is just over a year I already look back on all the cuddle time we've had and she's sleeping so well in her crib at night now it's a wonder we co-slept as long as we did!

two things. Reacting to cold air positively always make make me think of croup.

The other thing that comes to mind, is there could be an environmental allergen like dust, mold, cat/dog/animal hair, various chemicals that could be irritating your child. I know when heat or air conditioning first goes on in a season or even during a day, if the vents are dusty, it really bothers my allergies. Not only the fact that in doors your child is worse makes me think this, but also the fact that this cold has been going on for 3 weeks.

Actually, his cold is not any better outside, or worse for that matter :) I should probably have been clearer, but he has been sleeping outside in a stroller for 1-2 months now. The cold weather has no effect on his cold; I was just wondering if it might prolong it.

Those are good things to think about, especially considering that I have had asthma and various allergies, just like my both brothers and various other family members! However, for the first 2 weeks of his cold we lived in a very nice clean house--my grandparent's house--which is admittedly old but also reformed several times and I'm positive there is no mold. My grandmother is a clean freak, and there also weren't any animals. For the third week of his cold we've been living in a new apartment just me and the baby, in a building that was finished in 2010 so again, the chance of mold is very slight. I'm also a neat freak, haha :) And anyway I have to keep places clean due to my history of allergies too. No animals here either.

I'm also very particular about chemicals, to the point of annoying my family members :p I don't use any hair products or scents, and I wash both our clothes and the sheets and everything with an unscented, allergy friendly laundry detergent. All his clothes are 100% cotton and washed at least once before taken into use, and I prefer natural textiles with everything else too.

Also, he did have a fever for two or three days 1,5 weeks ago, so it's definitely a virus... But it is true that it could be prolonged due to allergies! So I'm going to keep that in mind and contact a pediatrician if I feel like his cold gets unnaturally long. :) I've seen a ped twice about his cold and he didn't find anything uncommon, but if it lasts a lot longer I will of course have him checked again!

Out of curiosity, how does he sleep in the stroller if the stroller is inside? I'm wondering if he's having an easier time breathing when he's more upright, like in the stroller.

The stroller is totally flat though, so he's not in a more upright position! I've tried to put him to sleep in the stroller inside, but I haven't been as succesful. I think it's the combination of fresh air and being bundled up tightly (without restraining his hands, he likes to have them near his ears so he doesn't like swaddling) and the lack of distractions that makes it work better outside :)

I assume baby is bundled for the weather, in which case, go for naps outside. Just because it's not the cultural "norm" (ugh) here doesn't mean it's unsafe, unhealthy, or pose any kind of risk. If that's how baby will sleep, then why change it? He clearly needs his rest, and props that you can get him to sleep that long!

Thank you so much for this comment! I'm not hurting my baby or putting him in any risk that I can think of by having him sleep outside, so some of the comments have made me feel pretty bad.

Maybe try to figure out why he naps so much better outside. Is there something out there that makes some sort of a white noise?

I use white noise inside, so it's not that! I think it's the fact that he's bundled up tightly (but his hands aren't restrained, he prefers to keep them next to his ears) and in an "enclosed" space with no distractions. When he wakes up during his nap all he sees is the strollers insides and maybe a little bit of my balcony's roof. He is a HIGHLY distractible baby, so if he wakes up during his nap in the crib or somewhere else and sees me or some other distractions, he will be fully awake in no time.

I guess it just feels like a safe little place for him which works better than a wide open space (crib in bedroom) with distractions (me) :) I'm sure that'll get easier with time when he learns some self soothing skills and I don't have to go to soothe him every time he wakes up.

I just wanted to pipe up and say that the baby sleeping outside concept was foreign to me until Oprah did a show in Copenhagen where she talked about how common it is for babies to sleep outside there. I couldn't find the video that showed strollers in the street outside of cafes, or the family who wheeled the baby into the garden for naps (while the parents stayed inside), but I did find this article about the practice in Scandinavia: http://joannagoddard.blogspot.com/2011/09/motherhood-mondays-prams-in-denmark.html?m=1

If it works it works!

Wow, that post was really interesting! Thank you for the link! For the longest time I actually had no idea that people in other countries/the US don't put babies to sleep outside in strollers, I have only realized it in the past few months, haha :) I also loved the blog post about how people in the Scandinavian countries take their kids out no matter what the weather is... because that's so obvious to me, and again I didn't realize people in other countries DON'T do it! Quite eye-opening :)

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