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It can be worrying as a parent the first time your little baby gets a cold, particularly as they can’t tell you how they’re feeling, nor can they understand what is going on.

If your baby comes into contact with other people regularly they will be exposed to a multitude of germs and viruses. Babies and young children tend to get colds quite often and it can seem as if they catch everything that’s going round – remember this is because their immune system is still developing.

Usually a cold can last around ten days to two weeks. Colds are caused by viruses so your physician won’t prescribe antibiotics which are used to treat bacterial infections.


You can expect your baby to have similar symptoms to when adults catch a cold.

  • Blocked or runny nose and sometimes watery or reddened eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Temperature
  • Swollen lymph nodes (under the armpits, on the neck and the back of the head)

Your child is likely to feel under the weather and may be more tired than usual, especially if they are blocked up and snuffly and have a temperature.


Keeping your little one hydrated is absolutely vital so make sure you frequently offer them breast milk or formula. You can also offer water from about 4 months.

You can treat a fever with appropriate medicine such as infant paracetamol or infant ibuprofen. You can buy these over the counter, designed specifically for children. Both are available in liquid form which it’s fairly easy to administer with a syringe or spoon. Always remember to check the correct dosage for your baby’s age.

Nasal saline drops can help to unblock your baby’s nose if it’s really blocked – you can buy these over the counter from your pharmacist. Or you could try a baby nasal bulb.

Natural Remedies

Running the shower in your bathroom and sitting in there for a few minutes can be an effective way of easing symptoms. The heat from the steam can help to relieve congestion and clear the airways of mucus. You can create a similar effect on a smaller scale with a bowl of steaming water. Adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil will help humidify the air and the smell can be calming for your baby.

Vapor rubs, often containing menthol or eucalyptus can be soothing, applied to your baby’s upper chest and back. Remember not to apply this to your baby’s nostrils as you could block their breathing, it could be sore if your baby’s skin is sensitive.

If your baby is big enough to be eating solids, there are lots of health-boosting foods you can try (depending on your little one’s tastes!).

Garlic is a powerful anti-bacterial agent and consuming lots of garlic at the onset of a cold may reduce both its length and severity.

Raw honey is full of live enzymes, stimulates the immune system and is a natural antibiotic. HOWEVER, it’s recommended not to give your child honey until they’re one year old. Occasionally, honey can contain bacteria that can produce toxins in a baby’s intestines, and this can lead to serious illness

Vitamin C and Vitamin D can also boost the immune system – good sources include strawberries, green veg, oily fish and eggs.

You can prop your baby up in bed – you should not give your baby a pillow because of the risk of suffocation, but you can firmly tuck a towel or two around and under the head of their cot so they can sleep in a slightly elevated position. Or you could place a wedge under their mattress to slightly elevate the end where their head will rest.

Make sure your baby gets plenty of rest. This is an opportunity to have lots of cuddles – the comfort will help your baby to feel better and relax. You will probably be up in the night more often when you’re looking after your unwell baby, so taking time to relax during the day and enjoy cuddles is good for you too.

Usually colds aren’t serious, but always remember to trust your instincts and if you have any concerns or a temperature lasts more than three days, get in touch with your doctor/physician.


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