The first indication of the common cold in a baby is often:
- A congested or runny nose
- Nasal discharge that may be clear at first but then usually becomes thicker and turns shades of yellow or green
Other signs of a common cold may include:
- A low-grade fever of about 100.4 F (38 C)
- Decreased appetite
- Difficulty sleeping
- Trouble nursing or taking a bottle due to nasal congestion
When to see a doctor
Your baby's immune system will need time to mature. If your baby has a cold with no complications, it should resolve within 10 to 14 days.
If your baby is younger than 2 to 3 months of age, call the doctor early in the illness. For newborns, a common cold can quickly develop into croup, pneumonia or another serious illness. Even without such complications, a stuffy nose can make it difficult for your baby to nurse or drink from a bottle. This can lead to dehydration. As your baby gets older, your doctor can guide you on when your baby needs to be seen by a doctor and when you can treat his or her cold at home.
Most colds are simply a nuisance. But it's important to take your baby's signs and symptoms seriously.
If your baby is 3 months old or older, call the doctor if he or she:
- Isn't wetting as many diapers as usual
- Has a temperature higher than 100.4 F (38 C)
- Seems to have ear pain or is unusually irritable
- Has red eyes or develops yellow or greenish eye discharge
- Has trouble breathing
- Has a persistent cough
- Has thick, green nasal discharge for several days
- Has any other signs or symptoms that worry you
Seek medical help immediately if your baby:
May 29, 2013
- Refuses to nurse or accept fluids
- Coughs hard enough to cause vomiting or changes in skin color
- Coughs up blood-tinged sputum
- Has difficulty breathing or is bluish around the lips and mouth
- Kliegman RM, et al. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1608/0.html. Accessed March 7, 2013.
- Long SS, et al. Principles and Practice of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. 4th ed. St. Louis, Mo.: Elsevier Saunders; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-2702-9..00301-9&isbn=978-1-4377-2702-9&uniqId=399011628-4#4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-2702-9..00301-9. Accessed March 7, 2013.
- Children's OTC cough and cold medicines. Consumer Healthcare Products Association. http://chpa-info.org/issues/Childrens_CC_Overview.aspx. Accessed March 11, 2013.
- When to call the baby's doctor: Print-and-go guide. National Women's Health Information Center. http://search.hhs.gov/search?q=When+to+call+a+baby%27s+doctor&btnG.x=0&btnG.y=0&site=oash_wh&entqr=3&ud=1&sort=date%3AD%3AL%3Ad1&output=xml_no_dtd&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&lr=lang_en&client=oash_wh&proxystylesheet=oash_wh&proxyreload=1. Accessed March 7, 2013.
- Facts about the common cold. American Lung Association. http://www.lungusa.org/lung-disease/influenza/in-depth-resources/facts-about-the-common-cold.html. Accessed March 7, 2013.
- Symptom relief. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/antibiotic-use/symptom-relief.html. Accessed March 7, 2013.
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