Helping your baby sleep with a cold Katie Hilton

Luckily most of the time your baby gets a cold it will be mild and harmless, however it can really play havoc with everyone’s sleep and make both you and your baby pretty miserable. Thankfully, there are a number of techniques you can use to try to help your baby to sleep better.

The most common symptom of a cold is a blocked and/or runny nose. Babies are nose breathers and have relatively narrow nasal passages, so a blocked nose can make them pretty uncomfortable and grumpy. More often than not a baby with a cold will have some difficulty feeding properly because they find it uncomfortable to feed with a congested nose. And because your baby is likely be more uncomfortable when lying down, sleep is likely to be disturbed very easily. Most babies with a cold wake frequently during the night and you might find yourself struggling to settle them back down. This usually lasts for a couple of days, however if it goes on longer or your baby develops a fever, coughing or breathing difficulties then pop along to your GP to have them checked over.  

Avoid medicines and try these alternative techniques to help baby sleep with a cold

The main difficulty with a common cold is that most over the counter cold medications are not safe or suitable for use in children under the age of 4 years and decongestants are not suitable for a child under the age of 2. So, what exactly can you do in the meantime to help your baby to sleep? The main goal of any technique will also be to try to clear their congested nasal passages as this will improve how well they can breathe when placed down for sleep.

One of the most common techniques is to use a saline nasal spray or drops. This is a great and gentle way to keep your baby’s nose clear and help to move along any mucus in the nasal passages. You can safely use this technique multiple times during both the day and night. You can buy saline solution over the counter in many pharmacies and department stores. To use, you simply spray or place the drops into the nose, try to keep your baby upright when doing this. 

The next thing you could consider using is a nose cleaner, also known as a nasal aspirator. This basically is a manual way of removing mucus which is causing the congestion in the nasal passages. When using a nose cleaner be very gentle as the inside of your baby’s nose is very delicate. Only use this technique when necessary as we don’t want your baby’s nose to become too irritated. Avoid using anything like cotton buds or cotton wool to clear the nose, as this too can damage the inside of the nose. You can instead buy a nasal cleaner/aspirator specifically for use in babies.

Try this old wives tale to help baby sleep with a cold

So now on to an old wives tale, but this does work surprisingly well!! Halve an onion and place it near to the headend of your baby’s cot. The evaporating onion juices have been known to help in keeping the airways clear and ensure your baby is breathing better during the night. However, one warning, do not do this when your baby or toddler reaches the age when they can grab hold of the onion, when they do reach this age pop the onion in a child-proof container with air holes in the lid section.

A humidifier can work extremely well in helping to clear your baby’s airways. You can even place something such as a eucalyptus oil into the humidifier to create a scent in the room which helps to unblock stuffy noses. Steam also helps in keeping any mucus in the nasal passages moist, which in turn reduces congestion. You can also achieve this by giving your baby a warm bath before bed or taking a shower with your baby.

A baby with a cold is usually themselves again within a few days. You can use any of the techniques described above or a combination of a couple of them. Each technique won’t necessarily clear the cold completely, but it will help to get rid of the symptoms a little quicker.

Keep baby cool if they are suffering from a temperature

If your baby has a temperature, then always ensure you are dressing them appropriately for bedtime. So that they don’t overheat, you may prefer to put one less layer under your Love To Dream swaddle or sleep suit, or alternatively use a lighter version of the swaddle such as the 1.0 Tog, if you have been using the winter 2.5 Tog as baby might be more comfortable in a lower tog rating while they have a temperature. Refer to our temperature guide below for how to dress baby for different room temperatures at night…

A baby with a cold is usually themselves again within a few days. You can use any of the techniques described above or a combination of a couple of them. Each technique won’t necessarily clear the cold completely, but it will help to get rid of the symptoms a little quicker. Do you have any tips of your own for helping baby sleep with a cold? We would love to hear from you! Get in touch at

On Facebook
On Instagram

Written by

Katie Hilton
Katie Hilton graduated from Staffordshire University with an RN Dip HE in Adult Nursing. She then went on to gain her BSc Hons Midwifery. Katie worked as a Midwife in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire and Cambridge before relocating to Vancouver in Canada. Katie spent this time working as a Registered Perinatal Nurse at a busy downtown hospital splitting her time between Labour Delivery Postpartum and the Neonatal Unit. On returning to the UK Katie continued to work as a Midwife, predominately in Labour & Delivery before completing her MSc SCPHN Health Visitor at the University of Wolverhampton. Throughout her career, Katie has gained a wide myriad of experience in all areas of obstetrics, child and family health.