Crying baby

As a mother of three, I’ve unfortunately dealt with my fair share of infections, rashes, itches, and bumps amongst my children.  I know that I wished I had a “quick guide” to help me through those tough times.

To be as helpful as possible to you and my nanny agency in NYC clients, I’ve compiled exactly that – a “quick guide” to RSV and I’ve also included links to a few eBook downloads that you might find useful as you seek to solve your baby’s infections, rashes, deal with immunizations, and handle other challenges you might be facing with your little one.

So let’s start out with the basics:

What is RSV (the respiratory syncytial virus)?

  • A virus that causes infection in the lungs and breathing airways
  • Also know as a lower respiratory tract virus
  • Can turn into bronchitis or pneumonia in some children
  • Cold viruses can transmit RSV
  • Most common from October to March

What ages of children are usually affected by the RSV virus?

  • Almost all children are affected by RSV before 2 years of age
  • But can be very serious in very young children
  • High risk children are children under 6 months of age, multiple birth children and premature children
  • RSV usually shows itself as a cold in a older child

Is RSV contagious and how is it spread?

  • Very contagious
  • Spread through the virus being expelled into the air from coughing, sneezing or a runny nose
  • Spread through hand-to-hand contact even from someone with a cold
  • RSV can live for up to 6 hours on the body and 12 hours on surfaces

How can RSV infection be prevented?

  • Talk to the doctor about preventative treatments
  • Keep the child away from anyone with a cough or sneeze
  • Practice consistent hand-washing and ask those around the child to do the same
  • Use child wipes to keep the child’s hands clean so that he/she is does not transfer the virus from his/her hands to his/her mouth.
  • Clean the child’s toys and pacifiers regularly with disinfection safe for a child.
  • If the child is very young, try to keep the child away from large groups of people or public settings.
  • If the child is older, teach him/her to not share cups, silverware, etc. as a cold is very easily passed this way.
  • Don’t take the child to playdates, activities, daycare or the sitter if children have been sick.
  • Don’t take the child to areas where people are smoking

What are RSV symptoms?

  • Symptoms typically last from 8 to 15 days and can include:
    • Early symptoms will look like a cold
    • Coughing
    • Runny nose
    • Trouble breathing
    • Wheezing
    • Grunting while trying to take a breath
    • Fever
    • Loss of appetite
    • Irritability and restlessness

What does RSV look like on an affected child?

  • In older children, RSV will resemble a common cold
  • In younger children, RSV will start with minor cold symptoms and then progress into a more pronounced cough, wheezing or trouble breathing.

What are the RSV treatments?

  • Antibiotics cannot treat RSV since it is caused by a virus
  • A cold will go away on its’ own, but the child’s discomfort can be treated.
  • Make sure the child gets plenty of rest and liquids (to stay hydrated).
    • In a child under 4 months old, give plenty of breast milk or formula
    • In a child between 4 – 6 months old, give a little water as well
    • In a child over 6 months old, juice is also an option
  • Use a humidifier in the child’s room to help with the child’s breathing and to moisten the air.
  • Keep the child’s noise wiped (or blown if the child is old enough). Can also use nasal syringe or cotton swab to help keep the nose clean.
  • Rub some Vaseline on the child’s nose to help with the irritation from the tissues.
  • Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be used to treat the fever.
  • Sit in the bathroom with the child while hot water is running in the shower for about 15 minutes. Or give the child a warm child as the stream in the room can help with the child’s stuffiness.
  • Nasal saline drops may help with the stuffy nose (especially when the child is having a hard time feeding or sleeping).
  • Keep the child’s head elevated when sleeping by using a couple of towels under the head of the mattress or let the child sleep in the car seat.

How long does RSV last?

  • Usually gone within 5 – 7 days but the cough may last for a couple of weeks
  • But if the child has more severe symptoms, it may last a bit longer

Call the doctor if:

  • The child is under 3 months old, was born prematurely or has lung, heart or immune deficiency problems.
  • The child is experiencing breathing problems, is wheezing or grunting when breathing
  • Fever goes over:
    • 4 degrees F in a child under 3 months old
    • 103 degrees F in a child over 3 months old
  • Cough gets worse
  • The mouth or fingertips become blue
  • Has difficulty sucking, swallowing or feeding

Here is the e-Book about pediatric medications I put together that might help you.  It covers all sorts of stuff that you can use to help your child with her symptoms.

Pediatric Medication

You might also find these other three eBooks helpful!

Baby Immunization

Help Colicky Baby

Free Guide

Also, here are some additional videos I produced with my friends at Howcast that might be helpful to you as you tackle other related challenges:

How to Handle a Baby’s Cough

How to Help a Crying Baby

How to Help a Gassy Baby

Diaper Bag Must-Haves