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Watching your baby suffer through their first cold can be heartbreaking – no parent ever wants to see their baby battling a fever, struggling to feed and snuffling. Sadly though, it’s something you are likely to experience at least once.
Please note that the following should be seen as general advice about how to deal with infants with colds. For specific advice, please consult your healthcare professional.
Colds are infections of the mouth, nose and throat – in other words, the upper respiratory tract. They’re caused by one of many different viruses, with the common cold considered to be the result of well over 200 virus strains. Because a baby’s immune system is still developing and gaining strength, and because babies love to explore with their hands and mouth, babies tend to get a lot of colds.
Colds are spread when someone with the virus sneezes or coughs, unleashing their germs into the air for someone else to catch. They can also be spread via hand-to-hand contact, and from contaminated surfaces like door handles and bench tops. Because of this, colds can quickly spread within a family, disrupting your household for weeks at a time.
The best way to stop colds from spreading are to wash your hands regularly, cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, disinfect surfaces and limit sharing of cups, towels etc. If you have friends and family coming to visit, ask them to wash their hands before holding your baby, and ask those with colds to stay away until they’ve recovered.
Another way for a mother to protect her baby from a cold is to continue breastfeeding for as long as possible. Breastfeeding passes on antibodies and chemicals in your blood that help to fight infection, and so you should try not to wean your child from breast milk when they are unwell.
If you notice your baby is running one/some of the following symptoms, it could mean your baby is suffering from a cold:
Should this be the case, don’t panic. The cold should go away on its own within 10-14 days and, for the most part, colds are uncomfortable but not a serious health risk.
Very young babies should see their doctor straight away, as children under 3 months old are at a greater risk of developing croup, pneumonia, or other serious illnesses. Once ruled out, your role as carer is to ease their symptoms as much as possible. You can do this by:
The most important thing is to help clear your baby’s nose as much as you can. Babies insist on breathing through the nose, even when it’s blocked, which can make breathing and feeding time difficult. Reduced feeding may dehydrate your baby or cause them to become irritable.
There is no cure for the common cold, and because your baby’s immune system is still developing the use of cold treatments designed to alleviate symptoms can be dangerous.
Cough and cold medicines are not recommended for children under 6 months old, and many believe they aren’t suitable for children at all. Cough and cold medicines contain antihistamines, antitussives, expectorants, mucolytics and decongestants, which can be harmful to young children, causing allergic reactions, increased heart rate, convulsions, nausea and constipation.
If your baby is under three months old and is suffering a fever higher than 37.5°C, call the doctor. You should also call the doctor if:
Seek immediate medical attention if:
Please note that the information provided by Bellamy’s Organic is to be seen as general advice only. Any questions you have related to your child’s welfare, please speak with your General Practitioner or paediatrician.