What to Do When Your Baby Has a Cold

Even in the healthiest household, there is a high probability that at one time or another your baby will come down with a cold. Babies are particularly prone to catching colds as their immune systems are immature and seeing your baby struggling with a cold for the first time can be heartbreaking. Fortunately the majority of colds clear up by themselves without too much interference.

What to do when your baby has a cold?

Although your baby may be snuffling and coughing, and sleeping can be even more difficult than usual, don’t despair – there are a few things you can do to alleviate their discomfort.

What are the symptoms of a cold?

A cold is an upper respiratory tract infection which is caused by a virus. Although every cold is slightly different, the common symptoms include a blocked or running nose, sore throat, coughing and sneezing and a high temperature. Your baby might find it difficult to feed and their sleep could be more disrupted than usual.

Colds generally last anything from three days to two weeks and as there is no medically proven cure for a cold you generally just have to ride them out.

What can you do to help?

If your baby is less than three months old it’s a good idea to take them to the doctor to be checked whenever you notice symptoms of a cold. Make sure your baby gets plenty of fluids, especially if you are breastfeeding. You may need to feed more often during this time. Always check with your doctor before giving your baby any medication, including natural remedies, especially if they are very young.

If your baby has a very blocked nose you can clear it with saline drops and a suction bulb which can help, especially before feeding.

Although it’s never been scientifically proven, some people swear by steam to help relieve sinus pressure and clear blocked noses. Try running a hot shower and sitting with your baby in the steamy bathroom, or invest in a cool mist vapouriser for their room.

What if you get sick too?

It’s hard enough coping with a sick baby but if you get sick yourself it can feel like a complete disaster. Colds often have a habit of spreading around households and if you are struck down it may be difficult to find the energy to look after yourself let alone your baby.

If you are breastfeeding always check before you take any cold and flu medication to make sure it is safe for your baby. Try to get as much rest as possible and if you have anyone who can help, now is the time to call in favours, particularly if you have older children.

If your baby is in a separate bedroom, try moving their bassinet close to your bed so you can lie down and be within arm’s reach. Drink plenty of fluids and eat regularly if you can to keep your supply up. Try not to run around doing housework and cooking for everyone else if you can avoid it.

Colds can be distressing for everyone, but they don’t last forever. Once you and your baby have weathered a few colds you will probably know what to expect and it will get easier to manage them.

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