Lifestyle and home remedies

Most often, you can treat an older baby's cold at home.

  • Offer plenty of fluids. Liquids are important to avoid dehydration. Encourage your baby to take in the usual amount of fluids. Extra fluids aren't necessary. If you're breast-feeding your baby, keep it up. Breast milk offers extra protection from cold-causing germs.
  • Thin the mucus. Your baby's doctor may recommend saline nose drops to loosen thick nasal mucus. Look for these OTC drops in your local pharmacy.
  • Suction your baby's nose. Keep your baby's nasal passages clear with a rubber-bulb syringe. Squeeze the bulb syringe to expel the air. Then insert the tip of the bulb about 1/4 to 1/2 inch (0.64 to 1.27 centimeters) into your baby's nostril, pointing toward the back and side of the nose.

    Release the bulb, holding it in place while it suctions the mucus from your baby's nose. Remove the syringe from your baby's nostril, and empty the contents onto a tissue by squeezing the bulb rapidly while holding the tip down. Repeat as often as needed for each nostril. Clean the bulb syringe with soap and water.

  • Moisten the air. Running a cool-water humidifier in your baby's room can ease nasal congestion. Change the water daily and follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning the unit.


The best defense against the common cold: Common sense and soap and water.

  • Keep your baby away from anyone who's sick. If you have a newborn, don't allow visits from anyone who's sick. If possible, avoid public transportation and public gatherings with your newborn.
  • Wash your hands before feeding or touching your baby. When soap and water aren't available, use hand wipes or gels that contain alcohol.
  • Clean your baby's toys and pacifiers often.
  • Teach everyone in the household to cough or sneeze into a tissue, and then toss it. If you can't reach a tissue in time, cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm.

Simple preventive measures can help keep the common cold at bay.

May 20, 2016
  1. Kliegman RM, et al. The common cold. In: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2016. Accessed March 10, 2016.
  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.