The common cold is caused by a virus that affects the upper respiratory system (the throat and nose). Adults and children suffer from this malady frequently which can be caused by a variety of viruses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults get two or three colds per year while children get more. In fact, the Mayo Clinic says babies can get as many as seven colds during their first year of life, and babies who go to daycare centers may get more. Babies haven’t developed immunity to the viruses that cause colds so they are more susceptible.
The Common Cold (Rhinovirus)
What Happens During a Cold?
Approximately 100 viruses can cause the symptoms of a cold. The viruses enter babies’ bodies through contact with an infected person, through droplets of body fluids in the air or by touching a contaminated surface. Symptoms of a cold in
babies may include:
- Runny nose,
- Nasal congestion,
- Difficulty nursing ordecreased appetite,
- Trouble sleeping,
- Sore or scratchy throat,
Does My Baby Need to See a Doctor?
Since it’s a virus, there not a lot a doctor can do for a baby’s cold. Symptoms in most babies should improve in 10 to 14 days. However, colds can be especially dangerous for young babies who are at risk of developing pneumonia or croup.
Babies under 3 months of age should see a doctor early in the illness. Other signs that indicate you should take your baby to the doctor include:
• A fever higher than 100.4°F,
• Red eyes or yellow/green eye discharge,
• Decreased wet diapers,
• Difficulty breathing,
• Persistent cough,
• Thick, green nasal discharge.
Remedies to Try at Home
To help you baby feel better, make sure he or she drinks plenty of fluids and keep the air in your home moist. A humidifier can help. You can also try to thin the nasal mucus using over-the-counter saline drops or remove it using a baby nasal aspirator to remove mucus from the nasal passage.
Can Colds be Prevented?
Colds are spread very easily between people. Be sure to wash your hands before feeding or touching baby. You should also wash your baby’s hands frequently using soap and warm water. Keep your baby away from people who are sick and clean toys and pacifiers often.