Common cold in babies
How do colds affect babies?
If your baby has a common cold, you may notice some of the following:
• reddened eyes
• sore throat
• stuffy, runny nose
• loss of appetite
• irritability and restlessness
• swollen lymph nodes, which are under his armpits, on his neck and the back of his head
Your baby may be having trouble breathing through his nose if he’s all stuffed up, so feeding will probably be difficult. Babies can’t blow their noses, so you’ll have to help your baby to clear the mucus.
If your baby has been sleeping through the night, you’ll be reminded of those first few weeks of life. He’ll probably wake up several times because his nose is stuffy. Expect to be up with your baby, comforting him and wiping his nose.
Your baby’s cold should be gone within 10 days to 14 days or so.
How do I treat a cold?
Your baby’s cold will go away on its own. But there are a few things you can do to ease his discomfort:
• Make sure your baby gets plenty of rest.
• Encourage your baby to take extra breast or bottle feeds. If your baby is formula-fed or on solids he can have water too. This will keep him hydrated and bring down his fever, if he has one.
• Your baby will be too young to blow his own nose. So help him to breathe more easily by wiping his nose for him. You can also dab a little petroleum jelly on to the outside of your baby’s nostrils to reduce any irritation.
• Infant paracetamol or infant ibuprofen can help relieve fever. You can give your baby paracetamol from two months if he was born after 37 weeks and weighs more than 4kg (9lb). You can give him ibuprofen if he is three months or older, and weighs at least 5kg (11lb). Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you’re unsure about the correct dose to give your baby.
• If your baby is having trouble feeding because of a stuffy nose, nasal saline drops may help to unblock his nose. You can buy these from your pharmacy. Apply the drops to each nostril 15 minutes before a feed.
• Breathing in steam may help to loosen your baby’s blocked airways and relieve his cough. Try sitting in a steamy bathroom for a few minutes, with the shower on, while holding your baby. But don’t put your baby too close to hot, steamy water, as it could scald him. Change him into dry clothes afterwards.
If your baby has a stuffy nose without any other symptoms, check that he doesn’t have something stuck in his nose. Even young babies are capable of putting things up there.
Don’t give your baby any over-the-counter cough and cold medicines. They should not be given to children under six because of the risk of side-effects.