A cold can be an unpredictable thing. Especially for babies. At times it can be tricky to figure out when a cold deserves a trip to the doctor’s office, a visit to the hospital, or if parents should just wait it out at home.
Here are a few things to help you figure out what’s serious and what’s not1:
- How your baby looks and behaves is very important. If he or she plays and eats as usual, then it’s probably a cold. However, if they look ill, seem lethargic, irritable, or refuse to eat or drink then it might be something more serious than a cold.
- The flu and other serious illnesses are more likely to come on suddenly and involve high temperatures. Call the doctor if your baby has a temperature higher than 100.4 F (38 C).
- You should never ignore symptoms like ongoing diarrhea or vomiting. Babies can get dehydrated quickly, so this deserves a closer inspection by a medical professional.
- If your baby is younger than 2 to 3 months of age, call the doctor early in the illness.
If none of the above apply to your baby and you’re satisfied that it’s a just a simple cold then here are some things that can help relieve their symptoms.
Make sure your baby is getting plenty of rest and liquids. Extra fluids will help thin out their mucus so their nose won’t be as stuffy2. Drinks like water, juice, and milk are all fine. Babies under 6 months should only drink breast milk or formula. You may offer more milk than usual for coughs or colds2.
2- Help ease their breathing
You can help your baby breathe better by trying the following3:
- Saline (Saltwater) Drops. Put a few drops into each nostril, and then use a bulb syringe to remove some mucus. It’s safe to repeat this as often as you need. And if you do it right before your baby eats, it will make mealtime easier. Saline drops are available at most stores.
*This works best if your kid is under 6 months. Older babies may get fussy when you use the bulb
- Moisten the air. Use a humidifier or a cool-mist vaporizer to moisten the air in your baby’s room.
3- Give them foods that won’t irritate the throat
Babies and toddlers with scratchy, sore throats often don’t want to eat because it hurts to swallow. Give them foods that go down more easily. For toddlers, try ice cream, ice pops, flavored gelatin, pudding, yogurt, or applesauce2. Babies 6 months and younger should always stick with breast milk or baby formula.
Remember, there is no cure for the common cold and antibiotics do not work against viruses. Try to make your baby as comfortable as possible with some of the measures above and the worst of their symptoms should ease in a few days.