Sore throats can be uncomfortable and difficult to deal with in adults. When a baby has a sore throat this can be even trickier as there is no way to explain what’s happening or that the pain will go. The sore throat may make the baby cry and this can make the pain feel worse. It’s essential to find ways to help soothe the baby and ease the discomfort. Below are some tips for treating a baby’s sore throat.
Spotting a baby’s sore throat
Most sore throats are caused by viruses - they can be very painful but should clear up on their own. It may be difficult to spot a sore throat in a baby simply because they can’t articulate what’s happening to them. Some of the symptoms include a loss of appetite or general fussiness. If the baby has a cold then this can cause their throat to feel sore but remember that you may not actually be able to see any swelling or redness in the throat.
What can you do at home?
There are some simple ways you can treat a baby’s sore throat at home, including:
- Using humidity. Sore throats are often triggered by other issues, such as congestion and a cough. Increasing the humidity in your home can help to relieve some of these symptoms and have a positive impact on the sore throat too. Try placing a cool mist humidifier in the space where the baby sleeps or create steam in your bathroom by running a hot shower and then sit in the room (not in the shower) with the baby.
- Breastfeeding. Sometimes when babies are sick they want to nurse more than usual and this is a good way to soothe a baby. Breastfeeding can help to relieve the pain of a sore throat and may also stop the discomfort from being aggravated by crying.
- Clearing congestion with suction. As in adults, congestion can lead to a post-nasal drip in babies. This drains into the throat and can cause a lot of irritation. You can help to relieve this by dropping some saline solution into the baby’s nose and then using a bulb syringe to clear this and the congestion. Avoid over the counter nasal sprays.
- Pain medication. The type of pain medication a baby can have will depend on their age - if the baby is younger than three months then a doctor should always be consulted first. Aspirin is never recommended for babies. However, those over three months can take acetaminophen and those over six months can have ibuprofen. Honey is something that we often use as adults to soothe a sore throat but this should never be given to babies as there is a risk of botulism.
In most cases sore throats in babies will clear up on their own with some home soothing and time. However, where a baby is younger than three months and has a fever or there are other symptoms, such as a visible lump in the back of the throat, a rash, dark urine or the baby stops nursing or eating then it’s essential to seek medical help.