My son was 8 months old before he was sick for the first time... You can see his puffy eyes in the picture to the right. It was quite the experience and I determined that there are three main things you need when your child is congested:
1) Bulb Syringe
2) Bottles (and breast pump if nursing)
3) Fast Flowing Nipples
Until your child gets sick or congested you may not realize why these are important.
The bulb syringe allows you to suck the loose mucus from your baby’s nose so he/she can breathe better. This is a process that is not very comfortable however my son was able to get over the shock of it after just a few times. Now it seems as though he knows exactly why I am doing it and welcomes it.
Practical Point: be sure to have a spitup cloth or tissue nearby to shoot the boogery mess into.
Bottles are necessary even if you are nursing. The reason why? If your baby is congested and the bulb syringe cannot clear his/her nasal passages well enough or at all, your baby will be gasping for air very frequently while nursing. Not only will this take longer time but it will also be difficult to know just how much milk your baby has received.
Practical Point: My son started to be uncharacteristically fussy before naps about 3 bottle feedings in. I found that he had a bit of separation anxiety and missed the closeness of breastfeeding so I allowed him to nurse just before going to sleep and that did the trick!
Fast Flowing Bottle Nipples are a must as well. Your baby will already have a difficult time breathing, talking, swallowing etc. With a fast flowing bottle nipple he/she will receive the milk with less effort and allow for more breathing between sucks. I had not paid attention to which bottle nipple I had grabbed the first time and the slow release was so frustrating to my son. Since then I have always grabbed the fast flowing ones.
Practical Point: Review the type of bottle nipple around the base of it for the indication of Fast or Slow milk flow. Also, warming up the breastmilk of formula just a little warmer will allow it to flow faster in a slow flowing bottle nipple. Be sure to test it on your wrist first though!