Cold in Babies – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

6 min read

Written by Suma rp

Suma rp

Suma is an ardent lover of nature and poetry and attributes her writing skills to the combination of both. She regularly follows other writers and orators in the sam

Parents leave no stone unturned to keep the baby from all sorts of infections. Yet cold in babies is common and seen in almost all babies. Babies are too young, and their immune system is not so strong to fight the infection. Hence they are prone to catching coughs and colds frequently in their first year. It may take time, but cold in babies can regress on its own.

Treating colds in babies is not easy as there are many things that you can’t do since they are too small. Yet, increasing their fluid intake, keeping the nasal passage clear, and offering them nutritious food for better immunity can help they stay away from such viral infections. Consult the doctor if you feel too concerned about the symptoms of cold in your baby.

In This Article

What is the Common Cold in Babies?

A common cold is a viral infection in the nose and the throat of the baby. It is characterized by nasal congestion and running nose. Cold in babies is majorly because of viruses that enter into their throat and nose. This can happen when they are playing around, touching surfaces and other objects. Their immunity is too immature to resist them apparently resulting in colds and coughs.

3 Major Common Causes of Cold in Babies

Cold in babies is fairly common, it is a respiratory infection that is caused due to different types of viruses. These viruses travel through small droplets when a person sneezes or coughs. They stay on the surfaces and can survive for long. They can further enter through the baby’s eyes, mouth, or nose.

Here are a few common causes of cold in babies

1. Close Contact With an Already Infected Person Can Cause Cold In Babies

If the baby is too close to a person who is already having an infection, it can be a nanny or parents, a day-caretaker – it can result in infection.

2. Touching Objects and Surfaces

Viruses can stay on objects like toys, and other surfaces for a longer time. Babies tend to put things in their mouths, through which the viruses enter their bodies.

3. Through Air

If the virus is in the air, breathing the same can even infect the babies. Viruses travel through tiny droplets of saliva when an already infected person sneezes or coughs.

Signs and Symptoms of Cold in Babies

Although cold in babies is a common infection and not a matter of concern, keep track of these few signs and symptoms. Consult your doctor if they seem to persist for a long time.

  • Fever
  • Runny nose (clear nasal discharge that turns into thick, yellow discharge)
  • Fussiness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Coughing and sneezing

Complications Associated With Cold in Babies

Generally, a common cold in babies will regress on its own within a week. But in some cases, it can be severe and might need medical intervention.

Here are a few complications that your baby may develop due to the cold.

  • Wheezing (acute cold tends to trigger wheezing in babies)
  • Ear infection
  • Sleepiness
  • Excess dehydration
  • High fever and chills

If the cold is not going on its own even after all home remedies, consult your doctor for other medical treatments.

Having a cold for long could also indicate different types of other infections like croup, bronchiolitis, and pneumonia. All these need proper testing and treatment. These can worsen the condition of the baby if not treated on time.

Treatment Options For Cold in Babies

Apparently, there is no cure in case the baby has only a cold. It naturally goes on its own within a week or 10 days. But if the symptoms are concerning, you may have to consult your pediatrician.

Here are a few treatments that doctors may consider

  • Acute cold can be concerning, in such cases doctors may consider administering antihistamines to babies.
  • Doctors may advice you to use saline drops to keep the baby’s nose clean for a better sleep and feed. Use saline drops 15 minutes before feeding so that the mucus starts to loosen and then with the help of a ball syringe you can suck the mucus out. This helps the baby to suck milk properly.
  • Doctors may look at the symptoms and persistence of the infection. According to that, they may prescribe a few more tests to decide the right line of treatment.
  • Your doctor may prescribe nebulization if required.
  • Ensure to give the medicines as prescribed by the doctor. Over The Counter (OTC) medications are a big no for babies.

Top 5 Home Remedies for Cold in Babies

Cold is common and when babies get it, it becomes difficult to soothe them initially. Here are a few home remedies that can help your baby get a good relief from cold.

1. Keep Them Hydrated

It is important to give breast milk or formula feed for babies who are 6 months or younger than that. It is important to help the baby stay hydrated.

2. Use a Humidifier

Some parents also use a humidifier to keep the air moist and decrease the dryness of the throat and the nasal passage. If you do not have a humidifier, try to keep the room moist and steamy.

3. Feed Them Khichdi And Hot Soups

If your baby is on solids, giving warm soups or hot khichdi is a good way to supplement their nutritional requirements especially if they have a cough and cold.

4. Help Them Sleep With Their Head Elevated

When babies have a cold and cough, they should be made to sleep on their backs with their heads elevated. This helps to clear the nasal passage and ensures a good sleep.

5. Try Hot Water Steaming

Steaming can help the babies get relief from cold. With steaming, the thick mucus starts to dissolve and clears up the nasal congestion.

When Should You Consult a Doctor?

Common cold may not necessarily need medical intervention, whereas acute cold and the symptoms associated with that can only be treated by doctors. Hence, call your doctor if you see your baby

  • Is not eating at all
  • Having issues while breathing
  • Has a high fever (above 101)
  • Baby starts to vomit

It is natural to feel anxious seeing your baby struggle with cold. But, cold in babies is common and is not a matter of concern. You can always try home remedies to make your little one feel better. If you are a breastfeeding mom, work on boosting your immunity. Consult your doctor if you feel too concerned about the cold symptoms in your baby.


1. Is it Safe to Give Over the Counter(OTC) Cough and Cold Medicine to a Baby?

No, it is not safe to give over the counter medicines for your baby without a doctor’s recommendation.

2. Can I Put Vicks on My Baby?

Doctors do not recommend applying Vicks for babies. Consult your doctor before trying any non-medicated vapor rub on your baby.

3. How Long Do Baby Colds Last?

In most cases, a common cold goes away in a week or ten days. If you see other symptoms like vomiting, rashes, breathing issues or fever, consult your doctor immediately.

4. What is the Best Sleeping Position For a Baby With a Cold?

It is better to put the baby to sleep in an upright position since the nasal congestion gets cleared and it becomes easy to breathe.

5. Do Colds Make Babies Sleep More?

Sleeping well is a key to being healthy and having a strong immunity. But unusual lethargy must be reported to the doctor.

6. Can I Bathe My Baby When She Has a Cold?

It is okay to bathe the baby with lukewarm water. It helps to ease nasal congestion.

Suma rp,M.Sc (Organic Chemistry) Rayalaseema University B.Sc (Biotechnology) Sri Krishna Devaraya University.

Suma is a passionate content writer with a strong keenness to understand the miracle of pregnancy, birth, and parenting. Suma has successfully transitioned into a full-time content writer and a key contributor at Being The Parent. She leverages on her experimental background in chemistry and experience in writing to come up with well-researched content that helps parents struggling to deal with various medical conditions of their children.Read more.

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