A baby can catch an illness at almost any age and any time of year and a baby’s first cold can often feel a little scary for parents. However, it is important to remember that colds and illnesses at an early age often build up a baby’s immunity and will help them fight infection much quicker in future.
Nevertheless, being able to diagnose cold symptoms in young babies quickly is important to help ease discomfort and prevent illnesses from developing into more serious conditions.
This blog post explores the initial signs and symptoms of a cold to look out for, simple steps to treat a baby’s cold and how this may affect plagiocephaly treatment.
How do I Know if My Baby has a Cold?
Symptoms of a cold are often easy to spot and are not too dissimilar to the symptoms we experience as adults. A stuffy, runny or congested nose is often the first tell-tale sign your baby may be suffering from a cold but there are a few other symptoms to be aware of. They include:
- General fussiness or signs of discomfort.
- Sneezing and coughing which increases during the night.
- A high fever.
- Finding it difficult to nurse or be bottle-fed due to nasal congestion.
- Unable to sleep properly.
If your baby is currently undergoing plagiocephaly treatment and is wearing a plagiocephaly helmet for long periods of time throughout the day, you may be concerned as to how this may affect your baby if they are showing symptoms of a cold.
Please read our advice from our clinicians on how illness can affect wearing a plagiocephaly helmet which covers if and when your baby should be wearing a plagiocephaly helmet if they have a rash, high temperature or other illnesses such as chickenpox. The post also explores if less helmet wear during illnesses affects overall progress and results.
4 Simple Steps on Treating a Baby’s Cold
Once you have established that your baby has caught a common cold and doesn’t appear to be developing any other serious symptoms, you will naturally want to try and make your little one feel comfortable and help them to recover as soon as possible.
- The first precaution you can take is to ask anyone who is currently suffering from a cold or illness to keep a safe distance from your baby to avoid infection. It may sound obvious, however, adults often forget how susceptible young babies are to catching any form of illness. It is best to avoid contact with anyone who has a cold during this period in order to prevent the symptoms from spreading further.
- Making sure you clean your baby’s toys with soap and water will also avoid spreading germs and infection. This is also a good way of reducing the risk of your child catching a cold in the first place, ensuring all their toys are clean and sanitised wherever possible.
- If your baby has already caught a cold you will need to keep them well hydrated at all times. Keeping your baby’s fluids levels up through extra breastfeeds can help to drive away the cold much quicker. For those babies who are formula-fed, fluid intake can include increased water consumption if the baby is under six months. This will help with hydration, just ensure all water is boiled and then cooled completely before drinking to destroy any bacteria. Don’t worry if your baby is having some trouble feeding, perhaps if their cold symptoms include a runny nose, you can use nasal saline drops (sterile salt water) to help which can be bought at the pharmacy, simply apply one or two drops to each nostril 15 minutes before a feed.
- Repositioning your baby can also help to ease discomfort during a cold and relieve congestion. Sitting your baby upright for extended periods during the day will help them to breathe easier, however, it’s important for parents to supervise their baby at all times. Repositioning is also recommended for all young babies to help develop their motor skills and protect against plagiocephaly. We have a number of informative repositioning guides with simple tips on how to do this, including a recent blog post on how to make tummy time and repositioning easier. It’s important to remember during the night, babies should always be placed on their backs to sleep.
When to See a Doctor
If your baby is under three months old and is showing signs of a cold, they should be seen by your local GP as a precautionary measure. Seeking medical advice will help to prevent your baby developing anything more serious and will also put your mind at ease.
A fever is another common cold symptom and is the body’s natural way of fighting off infection. However, if your baby has a fever of 39 degrees or higher or the fever is persistent for 5 days or more, you should also book an appointment with your local GP. Other symptoms to be aware of also include difficulty in breathing, severe loss of appetite and signs of dehydration. If your baby displays any of these symptoms it’s important to visit your doctor as soon as possible.
No one knows their baby better than a parent and if you are worried or concerned about any symptoms of illness your baby is showing, it is best to contact your GP for some advice. If your baby is currently undergoing plagiocephaly treatment and you are concerned if and when your baby should wear their plagiocephaly helmet during illness, contact one of our friendly and experienced clinicians who can advise you and provide you with that all important peace of mind.