When your baby coughs and sneezes When your baby coughs and sneezes
Young children are susceptible to colds as their immune system is still immature Everyone gets a few colds or bouts of flu in their... When your baby coughs and sneezes

Young children are susceptible to colds as their immune system is still immature

Everyone gets a few colds or bouts of flu in their lifetime, sometimes every year. Still, some parents may feel anxious when their child gets the sniffles. Are colds caused by wet hair or cold climate? Is medication the way to go?

Here are seven facts that parents should know.

1. It’s normal for babies to get a runny nose, fever or cough every other month

Dr Michael Wong, deputy medical director of Raffles Medical, said that healthy babies, toddlers and pre- schoolers catch a bout of cold or flu six to eight times a year on average.

Dr Natalie Epton, a paediatrician and neonatologist at SBCC Baby & Child Clinic in Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre, said some studies show that babies under two years may fall sick up to 12 times a year, or about once a month.

It is not safe to play doctor and give your baby over-the-counter (OTC) medication like antihistamines, decongestants and cough syrup. The American Academy of Paediatrics said OTC cough and cold medicines are not effective in children under six years old and can have dangerous side effects.

This is normal and does not mean that your child has a poor immune system or is sickly, Dr Wong added.

Contrary to old wives’ tales, colds are not brought on by exposure to cold air, so do not over-swaddle the baby if the weather is fine. This can make her body temperature rise.

“In other countries, flu seasons tend to coincide with cold weather, but they are not related. Neither are colds caused by being exposed to cool air, having wet hair or wearing wet clothes,” said Dr Wong.

He added that it is the baby’s immature immune system which makes her fall sick more easily.

There are other factors, like being exposed to germs at an infant-care centre or unwell siblings who spread the virus to the little one.

2. Most colds and flu clear up on their own in a week or two

Colds and flu are respiratory tract infections. The flu hits harder than a common cold as the symptoms are usually more intense.

Your baby may be lethargic, eat poorly and have a fever, Dr Wong said. She may also develop a runny or stuffy nose, sore throat and cough, Dr Epton added.

Viruses that cause colds and flu typically clear up on their own in one week to 10 days, and are not usually considered dangerous for most kids, said Dr Epton.

Do take your child to the doctor when you notice any of these signs:

•Fever in a baby two months old or younger.

•Fever of 38.9 deg C or higher at any age.

•Ear pain.

•Breathing difficulties.

•Your child looks pale or blue.

•Excessive crankiness or sleepiness.

•Signs of an infection that isn’t going away, such as a fever lasting more than three days, thick and dark-coloured phlegm, and a cough that gets worse.

•Your child is lethargic and becomes increasingly irritable.

•Poor feeding, with signs of dehydration.

3. Antibiotics won’t speed up recovery

As both the common cold and flu are caused by viruses, antibiotics can’t help and won’t speed up the recovery process. They work only on bacterial infections.

Dr Wong said: “Antibiotics are not effective in treating colds or flu. They may be necessary only if the cold becomes complicated by a bacterial infection or pneumonia.”

He cautioned against giving your child any leftover or unused antibiotics as it may lead to antibiotic resistance and other side effects.

Consider a flu jab to protect your baby, as the flu tends to make children more miserable than a cold. In some cases, it may lead to dangerous infections like pneumonia.

A flu jab is recommended for kids who are six months to five years old, according to the Health Promotion Board. This is available at polyclinics and most private clinics

Breastfeeding also protects against these viruses, as antibodies in breast milk help boost a baby’s immune system and ward off infections, Dr Wong said.

4. Skip OTC medication – opt for plenty of fluids and rest

According to Dr Wong, a specific treatment is usually not necessary in most cases.

What your sick baby needs is plenty of rest. That means shelving activities that may over-stimulate her, as well as encouraging more naps and earlier bedtime.

Give her more fluids to help loosen phlegm and soothe the throat, as well as replace water lost from the body during a fever, Dr Wong said. For babies under the age of six months, “fluids” mean breast milk or formula.

It is not safe to play doctor and give your baby over-the-counter (OTC) medication like antihista- mines, decongestants and cough syrup.

The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) said OTC cough and cold medicines are not effective in children under six years old and can have dangerous side effects.

No medication will make your baby’s illness go away faster, but if she has a fever, infant paracetamol can help to relieve discomfort.

Parents may give babies older than three months paracetamol, or ibuprofen to those older than six months, said Dr Wong. Check with your doctor on the correct dosage.

Babies under the age of three months who are running a temperature usually require a hospital stay.

5. Decongest your baby’s nose with a nasal spray.

Babies and toddlers have narrow airways which make it harder for them to clear secretions like mucus when they have a cold.

To ease a stuffy nose, you just need a saltwater nasal spray, Dr Epton said. Use this with nasal decongestant drops, which can help constrict blood vessels in the nose and reduce mucous production.

Some studies show that applying infant-friendly vapour rub on the chest of babies older than three months may help ease symptoms, Dr Epton added.

Use only vapour rubs formulated for babies and not the adult version, which may be too strong and can cause a burning sensation on the skin.

6. Switch off the air-conditioning

Avoid placing your child directly in front of a fan or air-conditioning as this may worsen her nasal congestion, said Dr Wong. It could also dry up and further irritate the inside lining of the nose.

He suggested humidifying the air to ease a stuffy or runny nose. But use only cool-mist humidifiers.

The AAP does not recommend using warm-mist humidifiers and hot-water vaporisers as they can cause accidental burns or scalding.

7. Flu-proof your kid – start by washing your hands

Cold and flu viruses are spread by tiny air droplets, which are released when an infected person coughs or sneezes, said Dr Wong.

They can be spread indirectly when you touch your baby’s nose and mouth with hands that have come into contact with contaminated surfaces.

So if you are feeling unwell, put on a mask, or cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue away and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

•This article first appeared in Young Parents magazine.

Henry Okafor

  • Tayo O.

    2017-02-14 #1 Author

    Informative! Thank you!!!

    Reply

  • Felecity

    2017-02-14 #2 Author

    Wow thank you for the information

    Reply

  • JaMia D Johnson

    2017-02-14 #3 Author

    This post was actually VERY helpful due to the fact that my daughter has a cold right now.. Now I know more things to do to keep my oldest child from getting sick… 😍😘😍Thanks for the tips

    Reply

  • Alyssa

    2017-02-14 #4 Author

    Wow some helpful information. Thanks!!!

    Reply

  • Nana Akua

    2017-02-14 #5 Author

    Very educative.

    Reply

  • Arileysi

    2017-02-14 #6 Author

    This is a good thing to know

    Reply

  • Kiara

    2017-02-14 #7 Author

    Information thanks

    Reply

  • Lay

    2017-02-14 #8 Author

    That’s for the tips!! I will take everything into consideration for the next time.

    Reply

  • Lay

    2017-02-14 #9 Author

    Thanks for the tips!! I will take everything into consideration next time!!

    Reply

  • Sexytrini

    2017-02-14 #10 Author

    Many tings I have learn here

    Reply

  • Aryanna Daniels

    2017-02-14 #11 Author

    I always wondered what labor looked like from the inside, Awesome!!

    Reply

  • Kiara

    2017-02-14 #12 Author

    Some good information !!

    Reply

  • Nyisha

    2017-02-14 #13 Author

    Wow this article has answered a lot of my questions 😊 thank you for sharing this .

    Reply

  • Cheyenne

    2017-02-14 #14 Author

    I always wondered if my sons symptoms were normal. Thank for the info

    Reply

  • Maya

    2017-02-14 #15 Author

    Very informative! I didn’t know this. Wow.

    Reply

  • Rotonya

    2017-02-14 #16 Author

    Wow I didn’t even know that 😳You learn something new everyday 😊

    Reply

  • Lexie

    2017-02-14 #17 Author

    Learn something everyday!

    Reply

  • Kiandra liggans

    2017-02-14 #18 Author

    Yes it’s very common for kids to have runny noses & sneeze & coughs it’s most important to teach your kids to cover there mouth when they sneeze to keep from spreading germs I have to remind my 2 year old all the time

    Reply

    • Kendall t

      2017-02-15 #19 Author

      Yes it’s very common for kids to have runny noses & sneeze & coughs it’s most important to teach your kids to cover there mouth when they sneeze to keep from spreading germs I

      Reply

  • Kira

    2017-02-14 #20 Author

    This information was very helpful with me being a first time parent

    Reply

  • Shaa

    2017-02-14 #21 Author

    My daughter had a cold about 2 weeks ago after a few days I became concerned but the doctor said the same thing to just let it run its course !!

    Reply

  • Moriah

    2017-02-14 #22 Author

    A lot of stuff I didn’t know.. I have a one year old and he gets colds all the time.

    Reply

  • Angel cole

    2017-02-14 #23 Author

    Very informative and educational

    Reply

  • Tye

    2017-02-15 #24 Author

    Good to know. I wish it discussed if breastfeeding helped fight against them getting sick so often. Otherwise very informative.

    Reply

    • Daja Monae

      2017-02-22 #25 Author

      Nasal spray is a lifesaver, I use it whenever my 4 month old is congested. Very informative!! Thanks

      Reply

  • Refileo Patricia

    2017-02-15 #26 Author

    Just what I needed now that winter is here im forever thankful.

    Reply

  • Diamond

    2017-02-15 #27 Author

    God bless you! I hope you feel better you look soo cute when you sneeze and cough munchkin

    Reply

  • Jay

    2017-02-15 #28 Author

    Thank you for such helpful tips

    Reply

  • Awenegieme Atsikeokhai Joyce

    2017-02-15 #29 Author

    Learnt something today, my baby sneeze a lot thanks for the information

    Reply

  • Tamesha

    2017-02-15 #30 Author

    Very helpful! Thanks!

    Reply

  • Cornie Rose Iita

    2017-02-15 #31 Author

    My one two months old baby sneezes a lot. And this is very informative.

    Reply

  • Eltoniquwa Holland

    2017-02-15 #32 Author

    This was very helpful! Thanks so much

    Reply

  • Tj

    2017-02-15 #33 Author

    Never knew they had nasal spray for kids I’ll have to look into that.

    Reply

  • jahan zazaib khan tarTareen

    2017-02-17 #34 Author

    Hi I’m here
    I love your page and I’m your page fan

    Reply

  • pearl Alvarez

    2017-02-17 #35 Author

    This is very informative. Thank you

    Reply

  • Delila

    2017-02-18 #36 Author

    This article was very helpful

    Reply

  • Tasha S

    2017-02-22 #37 Author

    I needed this information my baby is actually going through have these symptoms. She sneeze alot and I’m thinking about taking her to the doctor but her 2months visits is coming up soon so I will mention it to her doctor.

    Reply

  • Daja Monae

    2017-02-22 #38 Author

    Nasal spray is a lifesaver, I use it whenever my 4 month old is congested. Very informative!! Thanks

    Reply

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