How to Survive Your Baby’s First Cold
Most parents dread the thought of their child getting sick, but the day will come when your child gets his first cold. In fact, it’s not unusual for an infant to suffer from as many as seven colds before turning one year old.
Your baby’s first cold can be scary for a new parent. Understanding how to minimize the risks for illness, knowing which symptoms warrant a call to your pediatrician, and when it’s OK to treat your child’s cold symptoms at home puts you in charge of this stressful situation.
Why do babies catch colds?
Newborns and infants can face greater risks for catching colds than older children or adults simply because their immune systems have not matured. They haven’t received the repeated exposure to viruses needed to develop resistance. At the same time, very young children often come into contact with other sick babies and siblings at daycare or around the house. Last, spending a majority of time indoors, as children younger than 12 months do, is a significant risk for catching a cold from viruses surviving on surfaces and carried through recirculating air.
When should you call your baby’s doctor?
If the infection is uncomplicated, your baby’s cold should resolve on its own within two weeks. Regardless, you should call your pediatrician if your baby is younger than three months old when he’s ill.
Very young children can find it difficult to nurse with a stuffed-up nose, and failure to feed properly can lead to dehydration and malnutrition. Also, an untreated cold in a young infant can easily turn into a much more serious illness, such as croup or pneumonia.
Children older than three months only need to see a doctor if they have serious symptoms such as:
- Ear pain (usually marked by excessive irritability)
- Fewer wet diapers (a sign of dehydration)
- Fever higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit as measured with a baby thermometer
- Persistent cough
- Difficulty breathing
- Green or yellow discharge from the eyes
- Green mucus running from the nose or a runny nose that lasts for several days.
You can help your baby stay comfortable by managing cold symptoms until they go away. Consider trying the following:
- Suck mucus out of his nose – use a rubber-bulb nasal syringe to clear out both nostrils and sinuses. Do this as often as you need to so your baby can breathe and feed easier.
- Run a humidifier near the baby’s crib – adding moisture to the air in your baby’s nursery can help reduce his nasal congestion and runny nose. Be sure to point the mist away from the crib so the mattress and blankets don’t become damp.
- Keep your baby well hydrated – giving extra fluids isn’t necessary, but try not to miss any feedings even if your child is fussy. If you breast-feed, continue to do so. Breast milk can provide your baby with extra protection against the viruses that cause colds.