Baby Has a Cold


There is nothing more upsetting for a parent than the sight of a runny nose or a tiny cough. When a baby gets a cold, parents ante up for the long nights ahead and come armed with nasal aspirators, saline drops and humidifiers. When baby gets sick, everybody is on duty.

The Infant Cold

A baby’s runny nose is often the first sign of a cold. When the nasal discharge is clear, chances are good you’re just seeing allergies or a reaction to new teeth. (Some babies develop runny noses while teething.) A few swipes with a tissues and maybe suctioning it out a few times a day will keep clear discharge at bay.

But when the nasal discharge is yellow or green, you’re facing a serious enemy. When you see a runny nose that looks like it might be a problem, you should first take a temperature. If your child is running a fever, even a slight one, it is very likely there is something besides a simple cold virus causing her discomfort. Call your doctor to get instructions on how to handle a baby with a fever.

But if your child doesn’t have a temperature and isn’t acting much different than he normally does – with the exception of nastiness oozing from his nose, he probably just has the same kind of cold that we all get from time to time. Only he can’t lay around on the couch with a box of tissues. He needs your help.

Beating a Cold

There are few medicines appropriate for young babies. There are nasal decongestants and cough syrups, but before offering your child either of these you must speak with your doctor. Recent studies have strongly discouraged the use of these types of medicines in young patients, but your doctor will know best. It is possible to beat most colds without a drop of medicine.


One of the first things you should do is place a humidifier in your child’s room. The humidity will help keep the nostrils clear, or at least keep the mucus from drying out making it easier to remove with an aspirator.

Saline Drops

Saline drops designed especially for babies are a medicine cabinet must-have. These drops can help break up mucus in the nose and sinus cavity helping your baby breath more easily. When nasal discharge starts to solidify and block airflow through the nose, you should clear it as soon as possible. Drop the recommended amount of saline drops into your infant’s nostrils. After letting him rest on his back and allowing the saline to work its way back through the sinuses, sit him up and remove the mucus.

Nasal Aspirator

The nasal aspirator send home with your baby from the hospital will be your primary weapon against colds. Remove mucus from the nose as often as possible without inflaming baby’s delicate nasal passages. Babies breathe through their noses, and it is unnatural for them to breathe through their mouths. So when their nose is blocked, they don’t rest well, play well, or eat well.


Another major cold-beating trip is to elevate the head of your baby’s mattress. Your baby should not be sleeping on a pillow, but go ahead and put that pillow under the mattress creating a slanted resting place for baby. This will help the nasal discharge drain overnight and during naps rather than pooling as it might on a totally flat surface. The end result of elevation is better drainage which hopefully translates to better sleep for everyone.


And that sleep is important. Just like adults, when babies don’t feel so great, they need to sleep. Sleep helps to heal the body and fight off invaders. So if your baby seems extra tired thanks to her rough nights and weak immune system, put her down for naps regularly. Try to keep her head elevated to continue to help drainage. A carseat, infant seat or swing may be a good option for frequent naps.


Baby must also eat to keep up her energy. But when her nose is clogged she can’t nurse or take a bottle. So be sure to clear her nose as completely as possible before each feeding.


Finally, you should be monitoring her condition at all times. If her cold doesn’t seem to be improving while following your doctor’s advice or if your baby develops a wet cough or fever, you should see your doctor again right away. Any vomiting, diarrhea or fever should be discussed with a medical professional as soon as possible as babies can dehydrate quickly.

Hopefully though, you’re just dealing with the standard yucky nose and dry cough of a cold. And that should clear up in a matter of days with a drippy nose that can last a full two weeks before clearing up completely.

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