The Common Cold

It was 10 p.m. on a Tuesday, and we were driving around town. For some people, that sounds like a regular night. For a new parent, it sounds like a loooong night.

When you have a baby, 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. essentially become one another. Now, at 10 p.m., you wonder why you’re still awake, but you’re pretty sure nothing good can come of it. At 3 a.m. you’re used to being awake, which is arguably the more depressing outcome in this body swap (the LiLo in this “Freaky Friday,” if you will).

On this particular night, the “nothing good” occurring was Elmo fighting off his third cold in the past four weeks. Googling ways to relieve his misery, I instead found a general article about babies and colds. It said the average baby catches between six and eight colds before they turn one. What? Six to eight?? Fuck you, Internet.

How many times in your life have you heard, “There’s no cure for the common cold”? Did it ever make you mad? Like, “we can put a man on the moon, but we can’t cure a cold?!” mad. I hate colds, but I can deal with them. When Elmo came along, though, I got to see just how terrible it is to suffer stuffiness when you can’t help yourself at all. Experience that six to eight times, and forget getting mad—you’ll get irate. Like, “we can put a U2 album in everyone’s iTunes library, but we can’t cure the common cold?!” irate.

As a result, you look for any reasonable solution to help. And then you try them … all of them. So, check out my running list of baby “remedies” for the common cold (at least the ones I can recall), as well as how successful each was:

Bulb syringe: Provided for free by the hospital when we took Elmo home. In theory, lets you suck mucus out of a baby’s nose. In practice, is worthless.

Nosefrida the Snotsnucker: A better version of the bulb syringe, even if it should have been named “Noseferatu” (“I want to suck your boogers!”). You place one end of this tubular device in the baby’s nose and the other in your mouth. Then,  you suck. Hard. This product’s box features line art of a smiling baby, because there’s no fucking way you’d ever see an actual baby smiling when this is in use. Elmo acts like I’m sucking his brain out through his nose, like a confused ancient Egyptian coroner. Also, using this makes me feel like I have the lung capacity of an 80-year-old chain-smoker. Depressing on all fronts … except it kind of, sort of, almost works!

Boogie Wipes Saline Spray: Use in conjunction with Nosefrida. It won’t necessarily get more boogers out, but the ones you get will be bubblier! The canister features a scented noozle or “schnozzle” (their term). It must smell pretty good, because every time I bring it to Elmo’s nose, he opens his mouth instead … even if I’m just moving it from one nostril to the other. Let’s all take a moment now to remember how stupid babies are.

Humidifier: We’ve run this in Elmo’s room every night of his life, so hard to tell if it helps or not. One thing I am certain of? You better disinfect this thing often. Who would have thought something that’s constantly damp would get gross? Yup—everyone.

Raise the mattress under baby’s head: Where’d all the towels go again? Oh, right. They’re soaking up the humidifier’s juices and propping up the baby’s head. Perfect.

Baby NyQuil: Oh, man, I wish this existed. It’d definitely be my favorite “Quil,” narrowly edging out “Peter” and that Geoffrey Rush movie. I do wonder if they’d call it “Baby NyQuil” or something more fun. I did some quick brainstorming and came up with “Tyke Quil,” which I like quite a bit as an extension to the “Quil” brand. My goodness, I’m tired.

Baby Vapor Rub: This Vicks product actually does exist, although the Internet seems to indicate its poison. Since I was short a pound of beeswax and the eight essential oils the homemade recipe called for, I rolled the dice on the store-bought version, dabbing it on Elmo’s feet before bed. I think this is my favorite remedy to date. Like with anything else, I have no idea if it works. However, thanks to its smell, there’s no way you won’t notice if you already put some on. Considering my now hazy ability to remember things, that’s a fantastic add-on feature.

Other options exist, including putting a plate of sliced onions next to the baby’s head. I haven’t tried that one yet. Luckily (?), it sounds like I’ll likely have a few more opportunities to do so—especially since Elmo has now moved on to cold number four.

If you have your own remedies, let me know! We can take back the night. Or at least take back 10 p.m., like a less ambitious Justin Timberlake. (We’ll see how much night-taking-back he’s doing when his kid arrives …)