baby cold sneezing

What You Should Do When Your Baby Has a Cold

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A common cold is a viral infection of your baby’s nose and throat. Nasal congestion and a runny nose are the leading indicators of a cold. These illnesses are vital to helping the baby’s body learn to fight the viruses that cause the common cold. 

Babies above three months old are primarily victims of the common cold, partly because they’re often around other older children.

 Treatment for the common cold in babies involves easing their symptoms by providing fluids, keeping the air moist, and helping them keep their nasal passages open. 

Very young infants must see a doctor at the first sign of the common cold to ensure croup, pneumonia, or other more severe illnesses aren’t present.

Baby Crying

There is a reason why colds are called “common.” According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), almost every healthy children get 8 to 10 colds and other viral infections in the first two years of life. The reason is that their developing immune systems aren’t good at fighting germs and infections yet. 

A newborn baby starts building its immune system early on. But before this early immunity is fully developed, a baby is likely to catch viruses such as colds. 

Don’t curse yourself that your baby gets cold because of you, and don’t think that you didn’t dress your baby in warm clothes or left the windows open last night.

Colds are less common in newborns because they have some immunity from their mothers. This immunity wears off by about 6 months, and then colds become more common.

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Baby cold symptoms:

Luckily, the most common cold symptoms in babies are mild that include:

  • Runny nose (watery at first, then opaque to sometimes yellow or green-tinted)
  • Nasal congestion or stuffiness
  • Sneezing
  • Mild fever 
  • Dry cough 
  • Fatigue 
  • Appetite loss
  • A hoarse voice
  • General sense of feeling unwell
  • Some rare symptoms include:
  • High temperature/fever (around 38–39°C)
  • Headache
  • Earache
  • Aches and pains
  • Red or irritated eyes


The common cold is an infection of the nose and throat caused by one of more than 100 viruses. Rhinoviruses are the most common.

Once infected by a virus, your baby generally becomes immune to that virus. But because so many viruses cause colds, your baby may have several colds throughout their lifetime. Also, some viruses don’t produce lasting immunity.

Crying baby

Cold germs spread quickly. Babies continually touch things that may have germs on them, such as their noses, eyes, and mouths. Your baby can be infected with a virus by:

· Air. When a sick person coughs, sneezes, or talks, they might directly spread the virus to your baby. Droplets carrying cold germs from the cough or sneeze may reach your baby’s nose or mouth.

· Direct contact. Someone with a cold who touches your baby’s hand can spread the cold virus to your baby, who can become infected after touching their eyes, nose, or mouth.

· Contaminated surfaces. Some viruses live on surfaces for two hours or longer. Your baby may catch a virus by touching a contaminated surface, such as a toy. If a baby touches a toy with cold germs on it and then touches its mouth, eyes, or nose, the germs can infect the baby.

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There is nothing to worry about if your baby gets the common cold. It is very beneficial for your baby’s immune system because these frequent bouts with bugs can boost your little one’s immune system, making them less susceptible to infection later in life.

How long does a cold last in babies?

The common cold usually lasts 7 to 10 days. The incubation period for a cold is between 1 and 4 days. It’s typically most contagious a day or two before symptoms appear but can be passed along when the cold is already underway. Once the runny nose dries up, it’s less contagious.


It is best to help an infant avoid a cold by taking steps to reduce their exposure. These include:

· regular hand-washing by anyone who is in contact with the baby

· avoiding people who are sick or have been around someone who is sick

· limiting exposure to crowds

· avoiding secondhand smoke

· regularly cleaning of baby’s pacifiers, toys, and surfaces

Baby Colic

Treating the cold at home

Home treatment for a newborn’s cold consists of helping them feel comfortable. These include:

· Give plenty of fluids to keep your baby hydrated, including breast milk or a minimal amount of water if they’re over 6 months old.

· Suction out nasal mucus using saline drops and a suction bulb.

· Your baby needs sleep when they are sick, so let them sleep as much as they want

· Moisturize the air with a humidifier. Ask your doctor if they recommend a warm or cool mist type. 

When to call the doctor

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You don’t need to call a doctor for a cold if your baby is over 3 months old. In younger infants, make the call when symptoms start – especially if your baby has a fever. Cold-like symptoms might signal a more severe illness, such as pneumonia or an ear infection. You’ll feel better if you check on it.

No matter what your child’s age, call the doctor if you notice any of these more severe symptoms:

· Fever of 102 F or higher

· Trouble breathing

· Not wanting to eat or drink

· Signs of dehydration, such as no tears or fewer wet diapers than usual

· Unusual sleepiness

Also, call if your baby doesn’t get better after a week or so or if the symptoms worsen.

Baby Crying

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