A wee "achoo" that you swear could melt even the coldest of hearts. Indeed, it's as much a part of the soundtrack of those early weeks and months as the lullabies you hum into the soft fuzz of your baby's hair.
But, as you settle into the rhythm of these newfound days, a question starts to gently nudge at the corners of your mind. Is your little one sneezing... well, a little bit too much?
It's a thought that's easy to brush aside, like a feather caught in a gentle breeze. After all, sneezing is as natural as breathing, right?
Absolutely! In the land of tiny noses and even tinier sneezes, the occasional achoo is as normal as can be. It's simply the way these miniature humans clear their nasal passages. However, every so often, there might be a sneeze that rings a tad different. A sneeze that whispers, "Hey, I might be more than just a sneeze."
And as the attentive, loving guardian you are, you find yourself caught in the nuances of these sneezes. Is there cause for concern? Or is it just one of those mysteries of infancy, much like their preference for one fuzzy blanket over another seemingly identical one?
The world of parenting is a journey, and along this journey, there are stories waiting to unfold, mysteries to be unraveled, and, yes, even sneezes to be understood. So, the next time your newborn offers up that adorable, heart-melting achoo, take a moment. Listen, observe, and trust your instincts. After all, in this symphony of parenthood, each sneeze is just another note in the beautiful melody that is your baby's story.
What Causes Sneezing in Newborns?
The first thing that you should know about newborn babies sneezing is that they do it very often. Sneezing is a healthy reflex in newborns and it shows that they have a healthy nervous system.
Infant reflexes are automatic muscle reactions that happen in response to certain stimuli the baby may encounter. The Moro reflex, which is a startle reflex, is an infant reflex that normally fades away after four months. Most infant reflexes will stop as the baby gets older but the sneeze reflex is one that will stick long into their adulthood.
Related: Infant Startle Reflex
Sneezing is a protective reflex that helps the body expel foreign objects that can be irritating or cause harm. A newborn’s sneeze can clear out any dust bunnies, germs, strong odors, smoke, and other irritants that can cause illness in a baby.
Newborns often sneeze due to their nasal passages being much smaller than adults. Due to the size difference, newborns will experience clogged noses more often than adults do. Because of this, newborns will have to sneeze more often to keep their airways clear.
When is a Sneeze More Than a Sneeze?
If you notice your newborn sneezing much more than usual, it could be a sign of an illness that is affecting their respiratory system. In these cases, the sneezing will usually be accompanied by a slew of other common respiratory infection symptoms that are often seen in adults with the same issue.
These symptoms can include having a runny nose with clear, green, or yellow mucus, running a fever, unusual irritability, coughing, and congestion. The immune system of babies is extremely weak during the first year of their life since it is still maturing. It is common for many babies to suffer through five to eight colds during the first year of their lives.
Although it is common for babies to get catch a common cold, it is still important to contact their pediatrician if they catch any illness while they are aged three months and younger. At this young age, simple colds can quickly turn into more serious illnesses and it's best to take your baby to a pediatrician to make sure they will recover normally. When babies are a bit older, you only need to call the doctor if the symptoms worsen or don’t get better after a few weeks or if they develop a high fever.
If they do develop a fever, this can be a sign of the flu and you should contact their doctor as soon as you can. Excessive sneezing is usually not a sign of the flu but keep an eye on the length of their illness. While the seasonal flu will usually pass after a week or two for healthy babies, a flu that seems to linger can be a sign of something more serious so make sure you consult your doctor about any issues with their health.
Like many adults, infants can suffer from allergies which can lead to excessive sneezing. Allergies are your body’s response to certain allergens that may be in your environment such as dust mites, pet dander, pollen, or mold. It is not a cause for concern if your baby develops allergies unless it starts to interfere with their daily living activities such as eating or sleeping.
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How Can I Relieve My Baby’s Excessive Sneezing?
Although sneezing is mostly harmless for babies, you will still want to do everything you can to keep your baby as comfortable as possible. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to provide relief for your baby’s sneezing.
If your baby is sneezing due to an illness like a respiratory infection, there are a few things you can do at home to relieve their symptoms. Consider placing a humidifier in the baby’s room to help soothe their nasal passages.
Make sure you get one that uses cool mist since warm mist humidifiers can present a burn hazard if they were to tip over or have a leak. Warm mist humidifiers also tend to cause nasal passages to become inflamed and swell up, making it difficult to breathe. These types of humidifiers heat up water to produce steam to humidify the room and can consume quite a bit of electricity to power.
Related Link: Baby Won't Stop Crying? Here's What to Do
Cool mist humidifiers are considered the safest type of humidifier to use around small children or pets since they do not pose a burn risk. These are also more effective than warm mist humidifiers at mitigating the symptoms of a cold.
Make sure to take some time to clean the area that your baby will be in. Allergens like mold, dust, or pet dander can trigger your baby’s sneeze reflex so make sure that you dust and vacuum regularly. Keep any pets out of the baby’s sleeping area to make sure pet dander isn’t a problem.
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In the grand and delicate tapestry of parenthood, sometimes the threads can become a tad tangled. Imagine this: your tiny cherub, your little slice of heaven, has started to sneeze more than you think is the norm. The symphony of their daily life is now punctuated with more and more of those little "achoos," and worry is starting to color your thoughts.
Yes, it's a universal truth that a baby's sneeze can capture our hearts, but when those sneezes come too often, they have the potential to steal our peace of mind. However, remember this: nestled within the pages of your parental guidebook, there are a few trusty tips that can help ease your concerns and restore harmony to your baby's world.
Just as a lighthouse guides the sailor home amidst a storm, let these tips be your beacon whenever your baby's sneezing escalates. Think back to these kernels of wisdom, and allow them to illuminate your path, turning what could be a maze of worry into a manageable journey towards your baby's comfort.
Here's the first thing to remember: try not to let worry cast a shadow over the joy of being a parent. Our little ones are stronger and more resilient than we often give them credit for. Yes, they are small, but oh, how mighty they can be!
Next, embrace the power of knowledge. Understand that those sneezes are not always a sign of trouble. More often than not, they're just nature's way of keeping those teeny-tiny nasal passages clear.
And finally, the cornerstone of your strategy: compassion and patience. You have all the love in the world for your baby. Shower them with that love, offer comfort, and let them know they are safe and cared for. As the saying goes, "Love heals." And while love might not cure a cold, it certainly does make the sniffles feel less intimidating.
Remember, in this beautiful, sometimes challenging dance of parenthood, there's always a rhythm and a balance to be found. So, when the sneezes start to crescendo, think back to these tips. They are your dance steps, your guiding rhythm, to help your baby return to the blissful state of being happy, healthy, and comfortable.