Monday, January 28, 2013

Steam Room Ritual for Sick Baby

As you may know, my baby girl has been sick for the past handful of days.  Some congestion, mostly coughing.  She had a fever the first couple days but it's gone. Now I'm just trying to keep her comfortable and rested and hydrated while her little tiny immune system does its thing.

Per a recommendation from the nurse from our pediatrician's office, I have been taking PJ into a steamy bathroom at least once a day to help break up some of the gunk in her respiratory system.   Here's how I pull this off when it was just me by myself at home with her...

Steam Ritual for Mom and Baby
Total time: about 20 minutes

  • Set up the bathroom with a baby towel draped in a sleeper like this or a portable cradle, ready to lay the baby in it right out of the bath. (You might be able to use a swing, depending on the swing).  Maybe drop in one or two teething/chew toys just in case.  Put it right next to the bath tub, facing the shower.
  • Turn on the shower as hot as it goes and plug the drain.
  • Close the bathroom door for about five minutes to let it get really steamy in there.  (you can also hang some clothes in there to get wrinkles out!  That's what I always do at hotels...)
  • Take off all mom's and baby's clothes except for the diaper.  Yes, mom and baby naked time... you've all done it...
  • Hold baby and slip through the bathroom door so as not to let too much steam out.
  • Stand (dance, sway, bounce, etc.) in the bathroom for 5-10 minutes with her.  The water still running, always monitoring to make sure the tub doesn't get too full.  Sing verses of "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head" over and over.  Play peek-a-boo with the mirror by wiping off the steam in the place where the baby is.  OK, you don't have to do these last two things but I found they really added to the experience.  
  • After a thorough steaming, Turn the water off, ditch the diaper and get into the tub with baby.  Even though the shower had been running at full-heat, in our bathroom the water in the tub wasn't too hot because it had been sitting there so long (I guess).  A couple times I had to let out a little bit of the water and fill it with cooler water, but it was mostly just right.
  • Take a bath with baby.  (I figured, it she's anything like me, when she's sick all she'll want is to hang out in the bath tub!)
  • After the bath, lay baby in the sleeper in the towel, wrap her in it, and then take a really hot shower yourself.  This accomplishes two things: mom gets to take a shower, and baby gets a little extra steam before concluding the ritual.  During my shower, I would keep the shower curtain partly open so Penny got extra steam and so I could play peek-a-boo with her and continue to sing silly songs to keep her occupied.
  • When done, dry yourself off, pick baby up in her towel and proceed to wherever you both get dressed.
I found that doing this regularly did indeed help her to cough up some of the icky rumbles in her chest.  She also took very good naps immediately following this ritual.

Hope this helps!  And God be with you when you are caring for your sick babies!


  1. When Hartley needs a good steam shower, we just take him into the shower with us. He LOVES it and just plays on the floor or draws on the glass the whole time. Clears him right out :)

    1. We do the same thing for regular baby cleaning instead of baths -- we call it "family shower" :) but in our bathroom I have to have the water all the way hot to generate any steam so it would be too hot to take her in if I want to accomplish the steam room lung cleansing affect.

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