The joy of every mother is to see their babies smiling each time they are cuddling them. However, the flu and cold come in and take the joy out of these little ones. They are left crying and whining for their inability to express their feelings through words.
Common colds are not life-threatening. However, colds can be a source of sadness and confusion for new parents as they don’t know what to do or where to start. Babies are more likely to get a cold than adults. Research shows that babies have as many as 8 or 10 cold infections each year before they clock two years. So, when your baby gets a cold, should you go for baby cold medicine or contact a pediatrician? Read on to learn what you need to do when your baby gets a cold.
Understand the Symptoms of Colds in Newborn
If you suspect that your baby has a cold, the first thing you need to do is look out for signs and symptoms of a cold. A runny and stuffy nose are the most common symptoms of colds in babies. But these symptoms can be confused with teething since both conditions make babies irritable and uncomfortable. So, check out for other signs and symptoms, which include;
- Coughing, especially during the night
- Nasal congestion
- Nasal discharge may be colorless at first but later thicken and turn yellowish or greenish.
- Difficulties in nursing or sucking a bottle due to the congested nasal
- A decrease in appetite
- Difficulties in sleeping
If your child shows some of the signs above, the chances are high that they suffer from a cold. However, colds in newborns may exhibit similar symptoms as the flu and pneumonia. Some of the flu signs include diarrhea, vomiting, and chills, in addition to the symptoms of colds. You must learn to differentiate between colds and flu in your newborn. If you don’t know how to read and interpret the signs and symptoms of your baby, consult a pediatrician.
Causes of Colds in Babies
Common colds are caused by a group of viral viruses called rhinovirus. Colds are highly contagious and can spread through:
- Direct contact with an infected person: When an infected person touches your baby’s hands, the virus can spread when the baby touches their eyes, mouth, or even nose. This can also happen when an unsuspecting adult cuddles the baby.
- By touching contaminated surfaces: Some viruses that cause or spread colds stay on surfaces for several hours before they die. If your baby touches contaminated surfaces like the floor or their toys, they will easily catch the virus from such surfaces. The virus can also be spread from one baby to another when playing.
- The virus can also spread through the air. When an infected person coughs, talks, or sneezes where the baby is, the baby can easily contract the virus through breathing in contaminated air. Babies don’t have a strong immune system, so it is easy to contract colds. If you have been around an infected person, the chances are high that your baby will get infected too.
What to Do When a Baby Contracts a Cold
When your baby gets a cold, you can treat them at home or take them to a pediatrician.
Home treatment for baby colds includes:
- Giving them plenty of fluids: Babies need a lot of fluids when they contract a cold. The fluids include breastmilk or formula for babies under six months old. For babies over six months, give them sugar-free juices, water, and warm broth to drink, as these will make them feel better.
- Moisturize indoor air with a humidifier: Dry air aggravates the symptoms of a cold. Placing a humidifier near the crib will moisten the air, which helps reduce stuffiness in their nose and make breathing easier for them.
- Suction out nasal mucus: You can use saline drops and a suction bulb to clear mucus in the baby’s nose to ensure that their air passages are open. It will prevent their throat from becoming too dry or sore, which can be very uncomfortable.
Avoid over-the-counter fever-reducing drugs when your baby is under three months old.
When to See a Pediatrician
If your baby is under three months old, their immune system is weak, and you should not take chances. You should call a doctor if your toddler has:
- A fever of over 38 degrees celsius
- A fever that has persisted for over five days
- Red eyes that have a greenish or yellow discharge
- Difficulties in breathing
- A thick nasal discharge for over five days
- Persistent cough, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Refusal to nurse
You know your baby best. If they start unusually-sounding cries, have difficulty breathing, rub their eyes, or do not wake up to eat, you should immediately call a pediatrician.
Viruses cause colds, and they are almost inevitable in newborns. While there are home remedies to manage colds in babies, don’t take chances! Call a pediatrician when your baby exhibits high temperatures of over 38 degrees celsius.