For a lot of parents, the beginning of Spring is not marked by budding flowers or a subtle change in temperature, but by snot-filled runny noses and endless sneezes. Like their watery-eyed caregivers, kids can also experience allergy symptoms this time of year, which cruelly comes at a time when winter finally melts away and we’re all itching (see what I did there?) to spend more time outdoors. Thankfully, there are more than a few low-key genius ways to treat your kid’s allergies so they can get back to simply being kids.
“Allergies are a common problem, and an increasingly common problem for kids,” Dr. Alan Greene, a practicing physician, author, global health advocate, and co-founder Bambini Furtuna, told HeyMama. “One of the reasons for this seems to be that we’re missing out on exposure to nature early on. We know that kids who visit a farm even once in the first year of life are less likely to develop allergies, and that having an animal in the home makes you less likely to develop allergies. So one of the things that I encourage is to spend time around living things, to help the body learn that nature is not an enemy, it’s a friend.”
Of course, this year’s allergy season will feel different than most. As we continue to endure the ramifications of an unparalleled global pandemic, even the most pedestrian runny nose or watery eyes can leave a parent or guardian worried. So prior to treating any allergy-like symptoms your child may be experiencing, it’s important to first verify that what they’re experiencing is, in fact, allergies, and stay up-to-date with the symptoms of COVID-19. While experts believe COVID-19 is less common in children, it’s always beneficial to check in with your child’s pediatrician via a telehealth call or other online service before treating any symptom, allergan or otherwise.
Once it is confirmed that your child is experiencing allergies, try your hand at one of the following smart-as-hell treatments. Even the most Neti Pot-averse kid will take to at least one of these tricks to keep them snot- and sneeze-free this time of year.
“With pollen allergies, often the pollen sticks in the hair when you’re outdoors,” Greene says. “So either wear a hat, or take a shower and leave an outer layer of clothing outside when you come in. It can wash the pollen away.”
A midday shower or bath is arguably more work than it’s worth, especially if you’re working from home while simultaneously facilitating e-learning for your child. So why not give them a “special” Spring and Summertime hat that they can wear outside? Not only will your snotty crumb-snatcher be excited to open a box and find something new, they’ll start to view the hat as their special outside “something” you won’t have to talk (read: bribe) them into wearing.
If your child is still apprehensive about the whole “wearing a head covering outside” thing, you can always arm them with Bambini Furtuna’s Outdoors & Allergy Set. A combination of three products — Sneezy & Tickly Nose Care, which tames congestion and allergies, Itchy Eye Solution, known to soothe irritated eyes, and Bye By Itchy Skin, which calms rashes and bug bites — even without a hat your child will be better equipped to deal with outdoor allergens.
Prevention is the name of the parenting game. While no mom is under any obligation to use her body to feed her child (and for some of us, it’s not even an option), if you want and are able to breastfeed, doing so can help lower the chance of your baby having allergies in the future.
“Breastfeeding is very effective at decreasing the risk of allergies,” Greene writes. In fact, a 2011 study published in the European Academy of Allergology and Clinical Immunology found that “lifestyle factors and nutritional patterns, such as breastfeeding, help to reduce the early symptoms of allergy.”
OK, so sometimes trying to get your kid to use a Neti pot is like trying to give a cat a bath: It’s probably not going to work and no one is leaving that bathroom the same way they entered. But Neti pots do for our insides what a hat in Springtime can do for our outsides.
“A Neti pot used properly with a saline solution can help rinse the nose and sinuses,” Greene says. “You can use eyedrops to do the same thing.”
If you’re noticing your little one is sneezing more than usual, but don’t want to use a decongestant — which constricts blood vessels in the body and can increase blood pressure — give a combination of oils, herbs, and flowers a try. This Sneeze & Tickly Nose Care product from Bambini Furtuna is a wonderful option and “includes a Remedy Oil Blend of herbs and flowers that reduce congestion, inflammation, and discomfort in and around your child’s nose, helping them breathe freely.”
“I wanted something simple and safe that parents could use to help trigger their child’s own body to gear up and solve the problem,” Greene says.
Itchy eyes are caused by an allergic reaction to pollen, dust mites, or animal dander, per Greene. The worst thing one can do when experiencing itchy eyes is to rub them, but try telling that to a headstrong Kindergartener. If your child isn’t too keen on eye drops either, you can always use a cold compress.
“Cool compresses can be very soothing and help reduce itching and swelling of the eyelids and around the eyes,” Greene writes. Whether you use an ice pack or a sleep mask that you can put in the freezer, providing your child a cool reprieve while they take a rest on the couch could be just the thing that helps them avoid scratching their itchy eyes.
If a cool compress just isn’t cutting it, give Bambini Furtuna’s Itchy Eye Solution a try. Known to reduce redness, puffiness, and alleviate congestion, this blend of herbs and flowers can help your child overcome the urge to itch.
“The first thing to do is not rub the eye, which can mechanically trigger more histamine release and make the itchy eyes worse,” Greene says. “Instead, kids deserve relief from the itching.”
Not only is this a great practice at any time, and especially in the era of COVID-19, but it can be a great way to keep outdoor allergens where they belong: outside. The experts at WebMD suggest parents have their children “shower and change clothes when [they] come inside the house. The same goes for the fall and winter if outdoor mold or weed pollens are a trigger.”
While a shower or bath might be a heavy lift, as previously stated, having a special “indoor” and “outdoor” outfit could get your kid excited about changing. If your kid loves Pokemon as much as mine does, for example, keeping Pokemon pajamas on hand for your little to change into after a quick walk outside will help them become accustomed to having two sets of clothes.
If you’re able to control the humidity in your home, experts suggest you don’t set it above 45%. A playful humidifier, like this Elephant Cool Mist Humidifier from Target, can be a great addition to your child’s room and can actually soothe your kid’s allergies. But if you set the humidity too high, it can also create a breeding ground for indoor allergens.