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What to do when your baby catches a cold

Is that sniffle just a couple of runny boogers, or is it the start of the world’s worst ear infection? And what does snot have to do with earaches, anyway? Keeping tracking of every sniffle, cough and, let’s face it, fart can be a daunting task. See what parenting expert Beth Feldman, founder of Role Mommy has to say about spotting and treating your baby’s first cold.

Sneezing baby girl

While your first instinct might be to call the pediatrician’s office and make an emergency appointment, you can do a few things on your own to alleviate your baby’s discomfort.

Lay the baby on your lap with her head between your knees and feet near your stomach. Put two saline drops in each nostril. Your infant will not enjoy this unpleasant experience, but it will help her breathe easier.

Use a bulb syringe to aerate the nostrils. While the baby is on your lap, simply place the syringe up each nostril and squeeze slowly to suck the mucus into the syringe. Use this method only two to three times per day. Get more tips for clearing your baby’s stuffed nose.>>

Keep a humidifier in the baby’s room. An air purifier or dehumidifier can help alleviate congestion by keeping allergens and germs out of the nursery.


If the baby develops a cough, take him into the bathroom, turn on the shower, and hold him next to you as he inhales the steam.


If you have other family members in your home, ask them all to use hand sanitizer whenever they are in contact with the baby. Avoid taking her out to other people’s homes until the cold starts to dissipate.

When should you call the pediatrician?

According to pediatrician Gwenn O’Keefe, you should watch for certain cold symptoms. If the baby vomits, has excessive diarrhea, has a temperature greater than 100.5 F, is incredibly fussy and can’t be calmed down, or is limp, lethargic, or sick looking, you should call your doctor. How to take your baby’s temperature.>>

quotation mark openThe first cold can happen at different ages but the older the baby, the more days you can go before calling the pediatrician. quotation mark close

O’Keefe adds, “The first cold can happen at different ages, but the older the baby, the more days you can go before calling the pediatrician. For newborns, during the first month of life, it’s better to call the first day of any sick symptoms just to touch base, especially if there is any temperature elevation. We relax this concern after a baby is in the 6- to 8-week range.”

A mother’s intuition is often correct, so listen to it when it tells you something’s wrong. Call your pediatrician immediately, explain the symptoms to the doctor and take your newborn in for an evaluation. While home remedies sometimes can offer relief for the common cold, always consult with your pediatrician if the symptoms become more severe.

Learn more

To learn more about the tremendous strides made in helping newborns who develop viral infections,  visit the RBaby Foundation — which works to support life-saving pediatric training, education, research, treatment and equipment to ensure that babies (including those in the first month of life) who are suffering from viral infections and other infectious diseases receive the highest quality care and service.

Important facts about your baby’s health

  • Spitting up: Is it reflux?
  • All natural cold and flu remedies
  • Early treatment of blinding eye disease saves sight

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