Dealing With Infant RSV (Maybe) | Ask Your Dad Blog

Friday, January 18, 2013

Dealing With Infant RSV (Maybe)

Captain has been sick for almost two weeks. It has been horrible. His tiny little cough is huge. I don't know if that sentence will make any sense unless you've had an infant with a cough. I don't even know if it is really RSV. You'd think after three trips to the doctor in the last week they'd be able to tell us. Instead they say "It sounds like bronchiolitis… which could be RSV, and since the treatments are the same, we're not going to test for it. Just keep jamming this torture device up his nose and make him scream and cough more and as long as he keeps eating then he'll be OK."

But he's not OK  He's miserable. I didn't want sadness to be the first emotion I recognized on my son's face, but I can see it. He finishes coughing, and then he finishes gasping and then the fear goes out of his eyes and is replaced by this horrible sadness that says to me "I have been coughing for a quarter of my life dad. This sucks." I can take a frown. I can't take a frown that quivers on the edges.

I know. I'm being overly dramatic. There are people out there with really, really sick kids. Kids with Leukemia. Kids with brain tumors. Kids with degenerative spinal diseases. Mine has a cough. Trust me, I wish I could reach into myself and rip out this pit in my stomach and hold its physical embodiment in front of my face and scream at it: "HAVE SOME PERSPECTIVE DAMMIT! YOUR KID IS GOING TO BE FINE! HE HAS A COUGH!"

But I can't - because the captain is coughing again and I need to go pick him up and hold him and rock him and kiss his head and wait for it to pass. Because to him, this is the worst thing that has ever happened, and because I know that, it's also one of the worst things that's happened to me. Perspective flies out the window when my kid is screaming.

Here are some things that have helped:

The Evil Blue Bulb

He hates it. We hate it. But it works… kind of. Captain doesn't know how to blow his nose, so every 30-60 minutes we have to manually suck out his snot with this guy. Basically you push the bulb with your thumb, then put the tip in one of the kid's nostrils, and take your thumb off the bulb. Then your kid screams and looks at you like you just stuck a small vacuum cleaner up his nose. 

It sucks, but it works.  Be sure to wash it out and sanitize.

The Humidifier

We actually own this exact humidifier. It is a little loud, but it's easy to clean and will run all night without refilling it. We don't use the Vick's with it, but it keeps the room humid, which I'm told is what humidifiers do. It has definitely helped Captain sleep.

The Steam Room

This has been the most effective thing we've found. When Captain's coughing gets really bad we turn the hot shower on full blast, shut the door and Stevie nurses him. Captain breaths the steamy goodness through his nose and everything clears up for a little while.  Also, he gets to eat , which I'm sure is important for babies.

The Stevie

My wife is wonderful and strong and caring and the best mom on the planet and I should thank her more often and for every moment I've spent caring for Captain these last couple weeks she's spent ten more and I love her more than macaroni and cheese (which is a lot). Really though - if I'm tired, she's exhausted. If I'm worried, she's terrified. You'd never be able to tell though because 100% of her energy goes into loving that kid 100% of the time. I am in awe of everything she does. 

Stevie insists on a caption here explaining that she doesn't always look like this.

The Reader Recommendation!

I haven't tried this, but if you read through the comments it is highly recommended. It's called the Nosefrida The Snotsucker Nasal Aspirator and as far as I can tell it has you literally suck the snot out of your kid's nose through a straw with a filter on it. Yep, gross. But hey - read the comments below the blog. People love it. 

Anyway, hope all your kids are healthy and not coughing. Thanks for reading. I'll try and be funny again next week. 


Update: So I wrote this earlier in the week and didn't really have time to finish it. Things with Captain have improved and he is really only coughing when he gets upset now. We're still doing the blue bulb/steam room treatments and they still are helping. 

Earlier this week I took some questions on the Ask Your Dad Facebook Page with the intent of writing a blog post where I do my best to answer them. I am about 40% through writing that post and will be publishing it sometime this weekend or early next week. 


We're still raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. If you'd like to donate any amount, please click on the picture below.


  1. If you want to avoid the blue bulb (we have the exact same one!) you can try using saline for his nose. We use the Hydrasense brand box of one-use ampoules, which you manually squirt up his nostrils. He'll cough and be like, "wtf?" but watery snot will come shooting out of his nose, leaving his sinuses much more clear.

    For our daughter, anyway, she prefers it to the nasal aspiration, though you can use both at the same time if you really want to irrigate those sinuses (saline first, then blue bulb).

    Best wishes and good luck, regardless of what you do!

    1. Sara, we tried the saline per your suggestion and it seemed to help! Thank you. Captain is on the way up now and we can see the light at the end of the snot tunnel!

  2. Ohh baby boy. I thought about not commenting to say that we had the same thing, a cough with my newborn son for what seemed like 4 months and seemed as DISASTROUS as male pattern baldness or brittle finger nails.

    But then again, thats why you write and i read, to say. I hear you Dad, that sucks, I'm sorry, you are doing good, keep it up, love and good luck to you all.


    1. I would honestly give up my hair in exchange for my kids to not ever get sick again :(

  3. Here's an interesting device that gets rave reviews:
    And here's a humorous one of those rave reviews:
    I got one for our second baby, and while I haven't had to use it yet (thankfully!) I am hoping that if/when we do it'll be more effective than I ever managed to be with that blue bulb!

    I hope Captain continues to heal up well! I totally understand about not being able to watch that quivering frown.


    1. Thanks Jenny! There seems to be quite a few commenters who love it. I tossed a link to it at the end of the post :)

  4. Your wife, your baby, and your whole family are beautiful... sorry you're going through this super sucky time.

    I, too, was going to recommend the nosefrida (I think it is about $15 on amazon). My friend demonstrated it for me on her newborn the other day, and it was pretty awesome (albeit disgusting), worked waaaay better than the aspirator, especially in combination with saline drops.

    Good luck!!!

    1. Thanks Courtney! Luckily he's on the mend now, but if it happens again I may actually consider the booger sucker :)

  5. When my son was 5-weeks old he had brochilitis, so I understand how horrible their cough can be! It was suggested, by our pediatrician, to use the nosa frida and it works, MUCH better than the blue bulb. I would highly recommend seems a big gross but it works beautifully and is less invasive. Also, the cough went away after 2 weeks and now at 8 weeks he is full of smiles :)


  6. My 5 month old daughter is congested every morning. Often so badly she won't nurse. She screamed bloody murder every time we used a bulb aspirator so we got the Nose Frida. Our mornings are so much better now.

  7. When my son got RSVP, the doctor put some sort of test strip in his nose and did something to the strip and exclaimed, wow, that's the quickest positive I have ever seen. He prescribe the nebulizer treatment for a week. Worst week ever. Then we asked him to please come back to follow up and there was an a-symptomatic ear infection. All that to say- look into that strip thing and two, keep an eye out for ear infections

  8. Get the nose frieda! its a miracle workers. he will probably still scream and cry as my daughter does when you stick it in their nose but it works wayy better than the bulb syringe at getting the snot out. you'll do it less often because its more effective each time.

    wish more dads (cough cough, my husband, no pun intended with the cough) would realize how hard us mom's work. we dont even want help or to be relieved, we just want the recognition. your wife is a lucky lady!

  9. The NoseFrida is the best thing ever! I use it on my eight week old all the time and she doesn't mind a bit. It's surprising what you can suck out of there, and the best part is that it's non-invasive. I highly recommend it.

  10. Aw, nuts! I always wish I were the one sick instead of my kids--especially when they're teeny-tiny. Glad he is getting better. In a few weeks, you'll hardly remember this episode. Enjoy your sweet little one!


  11. Nosfrieda works. We take our little girl into the steamy bathroom, let her hang out, and then go to town. Disgusting concept, takes a little practice, totally worth it.

  12. My kid hates the nosefrieda but it totally works. We have all been sick since before Christmas, just when we got better my baby son caught something new. Here we go again.

  13. A big yes to sucking the snot out with your mouth! It does sound gross but it's so much easier and more effective than the bulb which I could never get to work correctly. I couldn't find the nosefrida here in Canada but we have the Hydrasense version and it works amazingly well. He doesn't like it but it gets the job done.

  14. When my daughter had bronchiolitis we used an inhaler plus a spacer to deliver medicine rather than a nebulizer. Highly recommended this because we tried the nebulizer and my daughter absolutely hated it (so did I)... but she could play with the spacer and get used to it, plus it had a cute elephant molded into the plastic.

    The spacer is essentially a plastic chamber with a valve, and you administer the inhaler through it, then your kids inhales deeply to get the medicine. Not sure what symptoms or conditions require a nebulizer vs. an inhaler / spacer, so ask your doctor. Here's a link to see what one it looks like:

  15. An infant coughing is just about the worst sound in the world. I hope he gets better really soon!

  16. Hope Little Captain is on the mend and Mommy and Daddy are getting more sleep. Nothing is more miserable than having a sick little babe.

  17. Love the nose frida. My little guy hates it but it's the only thing that gets the massive amounts of snot he produces out of his system.

  18. Just wanted to say that I feel your pain! My younger daughter had RSV at four months. Scariest sound I've ever heard was the wheeze coming out of her little body. I covered the 15 miles to the doctor's office at just under the speed of light. She has since been officially diagnosed with asthma. I freaked out when they started saying this word but actually it's not that bad--she does not experience symptoms unless she has a cold and they tell me she will likely grow out of it before she's done with elementary school. So even if you hear that word from your doctor, don't freak. Also, one recommendation from us: not sure if your humidifier does warm and cool mist but for us the warm-mist vaporizer is the way to go for our daughter's colds. Helps cut way down on the coughing so she can sleep. Good luck--hope your little one is much better soon!

  19. I feel for you--my five-month-old got what we assumed to be a cold last week--no fever, still pretty happy but very congested and a little coughy--and when we took her to the doc Thursday we found out it was pneumonia. PNEUMONIA! She's doing much better now after antibiotics and breathing treatments on top of the dreaded blue bulb and saline, the humidifier, and breastfeeding, but...I just know exactly how you feel! Hope he is completely well very soon!!

  20. Our 6 week old was just discharged after four days in the hospital with bronchiolitis and positive RSV test. We're home now and using the Nosefrida every four hours with saline drops. This is the closest we could get to the treatment he received in the hospital where they basically had a powered version of the Nosefrida that they used with saline. They also occasionally used a very skinny tube (technically a catheter) and fed that down his nose and throat for deep suction. No way to simulate that awfulness at home! One thing the nurses did that seemed to help was to put the sucker in one nostril while putting saline in the other nostril for a lovage or neti pot like effect. That seemed to help. Other than putting him to sleep with head elevated and the occasional albuterol treatment, that was all the hospital did for him. Nursing in the steam is a great tip and I will try that for sure.