There's no cure for the common cold. Antibiotics don't work against cold viruses. Try to make your baby more comfortable with measures such as suctioning nasal mucus and keeping the air moist.

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications generally should be avoided in babies. You can use fever-reducing medications, carefully following dosing directions, if a fever is making your child uncomfortable. Cough and cold medications aren't safe for infants and young children.

Fever-reducing medications

OTC pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) might relieve discomfort associated with a fever. However, these medications don't kill the cold virus. In fact, allowing your child to have a low-grade fever might help the body fight the virus.

Don't give acetaminophen to children under 3 months of age, and be especially careful when giving acetaminophen to older babies and children because the dosing guidelines can be confusing. Call your doctor if you have questions about the right dosage for your baby.

Ibuprofen (Children's Motrin, Advil, others) also is OK, but only if your child is 6 months old or older.

Don't give these medications to your baby if he or she is dehydrated or vomiting continuously.

Children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin. This is because aspirin has been linked to Reye's syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition, in such children.

Cough and cold medications

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strongly recommends against giving over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines to children younger than age 2. OTC cough and cold medicines don't treat the underlying cause of a child's cold and won't make it go away sooner, and can be dangerous to your baby.

In June 2008, manufacturers voluntarily removed infant cough and cold medications from the market. They also modified product labels on the remaining OTC cough and cold medicines to warn people not to use them in children under 4 years of age because of safety concerns.

Aug. 04, 2017
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  2. Long SS, et al. The common cold. In: Principles and Practice of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. 4th ed. St. Louis, Mo.: Elsevier Saunders; 2012. Accessed March 10, 2016.
  3. When to call the baby's doctor: Print-and-go guide. National Women's Health Information Center. Accessed March 10, 2016.
  4. An important FDA reminder for parents: Do not give infants cough and cold products designed for older children. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Accessed March 10, 2016.
  5. Hoecker JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 11, 2016.