Everybody who has ever suffered from hay fever knows how annoying and frustrating it can be. And even though many don’t know this fact, hay fever is among the most common allergies in babies — suffering from the exact same annoyance and frustrations.
The difference is infants and young children have a harder time coping with these allergic reactions and are not advised to take certain medications that adults take.
With this in mind, we cover our top tips and guidance when it comes to hay fever in babies, covering common symptoms as well as ways to treat this troublesome affliction.
What Is Hay Fever And Does It Affect Babies?
Essentially, hay fever is an allergy to pollen. When someone with hay fever comes into contact with the dust-like particles released by plants and flowers during periods of natural reproduction, this can cause a reaction felt in the nose, eyes, mouth, and throat.
Pollen grains are tiny “seeds” dispersed from flowering plants, trees, grass, and weeds and the amount and type of pollen in the air depends on the season and geographic region, according to the CDC. This airborne allergen has been proven to affect the health of both babies, young children and adults.
As is the case with adults, your baby may be allergic only to specific types of pollen and their symptoms may vary considerably from others who have hay fever. For instance, some may suffer from grass pollen severely, while others will not be affected by this type and instead experience worse symptoms from periods where tree pollen is more abundant.
Hay fever may vary considerably depending on where you live and the types of pollen that can be found in your area. Weather conditions and the season are also huge factors in pollen dispersal, sometimes called the “pollen count”.
Typically, the pollen count (the amount of pollen in the air) is highest in hot, dry and windy conditions, which will naturally lead to worse symptoms for those who have hay fever.
For older children, the worst consequence of this may be the inability to feel comfortable combined with a lack of concentration. And when it comes to babies, perhaps one of the biggest consequences of hay fever is the way it can make sleep harder — at a time when sleep is so important and precious for both babies and parents.
Perhaps one of the biggest consequences of hay fever in babies is the way it can make sleep harder — at a time when sleep is so important and precious for both babies and parents.
Other Causes of Hay Fever Symptoms
While hay fever technically refers to pollen allergies, it is also commonly used to describe allergies from other things too. This can include:
- Dust and dust mites
- Pet hair (dander) or fur
- Mold spores
If your baby’s symptoms don’t seem to be caused by pollen and are also not due to a common cold, it might be one of the above causes. As such, it’s best to see your GP and see if allergy testing would be a good idea or try to eliminate other potential causes of the symptoms your child is feeling. It is to rule out asthma or other medical conditions which may require further attention from medical professionals.
Symptoms of Hay Fever in Babies
It’s important to know what the symptoms of hay fever are so you can quickly understand if your little one should be protected against the possible triggers that are going to make them feel worse during certain times of the year.
Luckily, and as you’ll see below, the symptoms of hay fever are similar to those experienced by adults.
- Runny or blocked nose
- Itchy or watery eyes
- Red eyes
- Tickly throat
- Loss of smell
Also, if you yourself are suffering from it this year, this is a sign that it could be a possibility for your baby too, rather than just a common cold or another kind of affliction that could be causing the following. Some of the symptoms will be easier to spot in my child than others, so you’ll need to factor this into your investigation.
A Check-List for Spotting Hay Fever
As many babies experience similar symptoms to hay fever at other times of the year and due to other causes, there are a few other questions you can ask yourself to try to determine whether it is actually hay fever that’s causing trouble for your little one.
- Do symptoms only occur during periods when there is pollen in the air – from March to September?
- Do symptoms disappear or get less intense when your baby spends more time indoors and away from trees and plants?
- Are symptoms worse on sunny and hot days when the pollen count is higher?
- Is there no sign of temperature at night as would be the case with a common cold?
- Do other members of your family have hay fever?
If the answers to these questions are yes, there’s a good chance that your baby suffers from hay fever and needs some help to alleviate the symptoms they feel and protect them against hay fever triggers.
Treating Hay Fever in Babies
Unfortunately, hay fever in babies cannot be cured. However, there are a number of ways you can reduce the symptoms and give your child some relief even during the most pollen-heavy weeks of spring and summer.
Top Ways to Stop Hay Fever Hurting Your Baby
If you are able to, you can try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people if your baby has hay fever. Limiting the chance of your child being exposed to pollen will lessen the impact of their symptoms.
Equally, keeping your windows closed and installing a pollen filter for your air vents or purchasing an air purifier with a pollen filter can help to eliminate troublesome particles from the space that your baby inhabits, therefore reducing the symptoms they’ll experience.
Simply vacuuming regularly during spring and summer months when the pollen count is known to be high can really help. If your child is crawling and rolling around the floor, there’s every chance they’ll encounter pollen particles that have built up over time.
Keeping your windows closed and installing a pollen filter for your air vents or purchasing an air purifier with a pollen filter can help to eliminate troublesome particles from the space that your baby inhabits.
Other Ways to Help Your Baby During Hay Fever Season
A few other things you might want to try are:
- Putting petroleum jelly or another type of balm around your baby’s nostrils to trap pollen, such as Vaseline
- Washing your baby’s face with a damp cloth to remove any pollen particles that may have landed on their skin
- Cover your babies head with something that stops pollen from falling onto their mouths and noses when outside, such as a sun hat
- Put some shades on your baby to stop pollen getting into their eyes
- Increase your clothes washing frequency so that no pollen is allowed to build up on your baby’s clothes
Helping Babies with Hay Fever Sleep Better
Spring and summer are active seasons for both parents and babies and ensuring that enough sleep is of vital importance when it comes to health and development. In addition to the above, below are some important ways you can alleviate the symptoms of hay fever so that they can sleep better at night.
Remove Pollen from Your Baby’s Space
Make sure all pollen is removed from your baby’s body and space before they sleep by bathing or showering them before bedtime. All their night time or nap clothes such as sleep sacks or all-in-ones, should be completely clean and only used indoors.
Obviously, it also helps that the clothes they sleep in are 100% child-suitable and comfy so your little one can get on with the task at hand rather than wriggle or squirm due to itchy fabrics or clothes that are too loose or tight.
Keep Outdoor Toys Where They Belong
Many babies get attached to certain toys such as cuddly bears or other items and want them with them wherever they go, including outside and in their beds. If you can, stop this from happening by leaving anything that your child plays with outdoors away from their bedroom so that pollen doesn’t contaminate the space.
Being prepared with an indoor version or the same toy or a replacement toy they equally prefer can really help to stop them crying and settle down to sleep if it comes to that.
Equally, if you have a pet, make sure it doesn’t go into your child’s room to prevent pollen and other allergens from accessing the area your child sleeps in.
Remove Pollen and Snot from Your Baby’s Nose Before Sleep
You might try removing any snot from your little one’s nose too with a gentle saline spray or “snot sucker” as pollen particles may lay inside your child’s nostrils. Having a saline nasal spray clean and ready to use before sleep can help when your child has been sniffing or sneezing a lot due to pollen in their nostrils.
Advice from Doctors and Hay Fever Medication for Babies
Pretty much all of the solutions we've provided in this post have been natural remedies or practical solutions for avoiding the triggers of hay fever. However, some doctors may suggest using medication to help relieve your child's symptoms, such as a child-safe and non-drowsy antihistamine.
You may even be recommended to try immunotherapy, which is a long-term treatment that involves exposing your child to small amounts of the allergen. This is only advised if symptoms are severe.
Always check with a medical professional or pharmacists before you give your child medicine for hay fever.
Check the Pollen Count
If your child is allergic to pollen, remember that you can always check the daily pollen count on the news or online.
Knowing pollen particles will be more abundant in your town or city during specific periods of time will allow you to plan your schedule to limit the impact of pollen on your child, reducing their hay fever symptoms.