SymptomsBy Mayo Clinic staff
The first indication of the common cold in a baby is often:
- A congested or runny nose
- Nasal discharge that may be clear at first, but then usually becomes thicker and turns shades of yellow or green
Other signs of a common cold may include:
- A low-grade fever of about 100.4 F (38 C)
- Decreased appetite
- Difficulty sleeping
When to see a doctor
Your baby's immune system will need time to conquer the cold. If your baby has a cold with no complications, it should resolve within about a week.
If your baby is younger than 2 to 3 months of age, call the doctor early in the illness. For newborns, a common cold can quickly develop into croup, pneumonia or another serious illness. Even without such complications, a stuffy nose can make it difficult for your baby to nurse or drink from a bottle. This can lead to dehydration. As your baby gets older, your doctor can guide you on when your baby needs to be seen by a doctor and when you can treat his or her cold at home.
Most colds are simply a nuisance. But it's important to take your baby's signs and symptoms seriously. If your baby is age 3 months or older, call the doctor if he or she:
- Isn't wetting as many diapers as usual
- Has a temperature higher than 102 F (38.9 C)
- Seems to have ear pain
- Has red eyes or develops yellow eye discharge
- Has a cough for more than one week
- Has thick, green nasal discharge for more than two weeks
- Has any signs or symptoms that worry you
Seek medical help immediately if your baby:
- Refuses to nurse or accept fluids
- Coughs hard enough to cause vomiting or changes in skin color
- Coughs up blood-tinged sputum
- Has difficulty breathing or is bluish around the lips and mouth
- Turner RB. The common cold. In: Kliegman RM, et al. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2007. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/213489709-9/1035772701/1608/893.html#4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-2450-7..50378-9--cesec20_7357. Accessed Aug. 6, 2010.
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- Symptom relief. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/antibiotic-use/symptom-relief.html. Accessed Aug. 6, 2010.
- Public health advisory: FDA recommends that over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold products not be used for infants and children under 2 years of age. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PublicHealthAdvisories/ucm051137.html. Accessed Aug. 6, 2010.
- Cough suppressant and pharmacologic protussive therapy: ACCP evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Northbrook, Ill.: The American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP). http://www.guideline.gov/summary/summary.aspx?doc_id=8675&nbr=4840&ss=6&xl=999. Accessed Aug. 6, 2010.
- When to call the baby's doctor: Print-and-go guide. National Women's Health Information Center. http://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/mom-to-be-tools/when-call-baby-doctor.pdf. Accessed Aug. 6, 2010
- What to do in a medical emergency: Fever. American College of Emergency Physicians. http://www.emergencycareforyou.org/EmergencyManual/WhatToDoInMedicalEmergency/Default.aspx?id=242&terms=fever. Accessed Aug. 6, 2010.
- Hoecker JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 8, 2010.