Infant cold: what should I do?

January 12, 2024

Infant colds are a common condition that can worry parents, especially if it is the first time. Understanding how to deal with this situation can help ensure the well-being of the little one and peace of mind for the family. In this article, we will address some of the main questions that arise when an infant has cold symptoms.

What is a cold?

A cold is a viral disease, caused by rhinovirus, that affects us humans when we are exposed to the virus and when our immune system fails to prevent its proliferation.

Once established, the virus begins to reproduce and causes the disease that mainly affects the upper airways, causing symptoms such as sore throat, coughing, sneezing, and the presence of mucus and hoarseness. In some cases of cross-infection, one might find tonsil stones.

In an adult person living in countries with high hygiene and a good immune system and no comorbidities, it generally resolves on its own within a week. But for an infant, the issue is a little different.

What to do if the newborn has a cold?

When an infant shows the first signs of a cold, it is important to act gently and carefully. A good first step is to maintain a humidified environment, which will help thin mucus and make it easier for the baby to breathe. Using a humidifier in the room where the baby sleeps can be an effective choice to help keep the airway moist.

In addition, it is essential to ensure that the infant is well-hydrated. Breastfeeding or bottle feeding should be frequent, as fluids are crucial in the healing process. Remember that the infant should not be given water and that all hydration, at least for the first 6 months, should come from breast or formula milk.

It may be necessary to vary the infant’s sleeping position slightly to facilitate breathing-there is no completely safe way to do this that does not go against SIDS guidelines. An alternative that might be acceptable is with minimal tilt, a very few inches, and the booster should be placed under the mattress.

When to worry about infant colds?

Although colds are a fairly common ailment, some signs require parents’ attention. It is important to monitor symptoms and consult a pediatrician if the infant has difficulty breathing, a high or persistent fever, refuses to eat, or if the cold lingers, showing no signs of improvement.

In addition to this, signs of dehydration, such as crying without tears or a lower-than-normal number of wet diapers, are central reasons for an immediate medical examination. Remember that prompt reaction to troubling symptoms is critical to your baby’s health.

How many days does an infant cold last?

The duration of an infant cold varies depending on the individual and his or her ability to respond to the virus. Generally, you can expect symptoms to begin to improve within a week. However, it is not uncommon for colds to persist for 10 days or more.

It is important to consider that even if symptoms linger, this does not necessarily imply that there is a more serious problem. With proper care and constant monitoring, most infants get over a cold without complications. Antibiotics are often prescribed without even an examination of the child: this is a foolish choice, especially considering that it is a viral illness and antibiotics are used against bacterial conditions. The unnecessary and disproportionate use of antibiotics can lead to very dangerous resistance.

How to clear the nose of newborn mucus?

Clearing the newborn’s nose is a delicate but essential activity. The use of a nasal aspirator can be very helpful in removing mucus. It is recommended to use saline solutions before use to soften the mucus and make the suction more effective and gentle.

In addition, small nasal washes can be performed using saline solution. These help keep the nostrils clean and prevent the formation of crusts that could further hinder breathing. Remember that your newborn does not have many means of clearing his airways, and helping him at these times is very important for his well-being and quick recovery.

Why do infants often sneeze?

Sneezing in infants is a completely normal phenomenon and not necessarily related to a cold. Infants sneeze frequently to clear their small nostrils of impurities or mucus. This is a natural reflex that helps keep the airways clean.

In addition, infants’ immune systems are still developing, and sneezing acts as a defense mechanism against external agents. Unless accompanied by other cold symptoms, sneezing should not be a reason to

How many times a day should an infant be given nasal washes?

Nasal washes are a useful tool for relieving the discomfort caused by a cold. The frequency of the washes will depend on the amount of mucus and the severity of the symptoms. Generally, they can be performed before meals and before sleep to facilitate feeding and ensure a more comfortable rest.

There is no precise number of times, but it is important not to overdo it so as not to irritate the infant’s delicate mucous membranes. Usually, 2 a day is enough, but always follow your pediatrician’s instructions and observe your baby’s reactions.

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Mayo Clinic Staff. (n.d.). Common cold in babies: Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved April 1, 2023, from