What to Do When Your Baby Has a Cold

The first time your baby gets sick is so hard. You hate to see them not feeling well and because of their young age and size, there isn’t much you can do for a virus, like a cold, other than wait it out. We asked Tiffany Fischman, M.D., a general pediatrician at Calabasas Pediatrics and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, for her advice on how to treat a cold in a newborn.

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A MamasUncut fan asks:

My son is just shy of 4 months and has his first cold. I’ve been using a nasal aspiration, saline drops, and an organic baby chest rub, but he’s still pretty congested. Wondering if you have tips to help clear him up? It’s breaking my heart to see him sick.

Dr. Fischman says:

It’s so hard to have a sick baby! Because babies mostly breathe through their noses and spend a lot of time lying on their backs, their congestion always seems more pronounced. Nasal suctioning with a few saline drops and a chest rub are both great tools to aid with congestion. The saline helps to loosen the mucous and allows more to be suctioned out of their little noses. I also recommend a cool mist humidifier. If you don’t have a humidifier, simply running a hot bath or shower and closing the bathroom door for a few minutes can create a nice humid environment that can help with congestion as well. 

Sleeping can be challenging when babies are sick and congested so I suggest keeping a humidifier in the bedroom if possible. Safely elevating the head of the crib can also help during sleep. You can do this with a wedge placed under the mattress or by putting something heavy and stable under the legs of the crib to elevate it slightly. You should never put extra blankets, or pillows under your baby or within the crib as this has been shown to increase the risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

The most important things to pay attention to when your baby has a cold is his breathing (how easy or hard is it for him to breathe), how he’s feeding and how many wet diapers he’s making. You will also want to take note of any fevers. I usually recommend getting your baby checked out by your pediatrician for fevers lasting more than 3 days, if his breathing becomes labored and/or if he shows any signs of dehydration like decreased wet diapers, poor feeding and dryness on the inside of his mouth.

Even if your baby doesn’t have these symptoms, or you aren’t sure, it’s always OK to call your pediatrician. That’s what the advice nurse or phone line is for!

Do you have a question you’d like answered by Dr. Fischman? Submit it to the Mamas Uncut Facebook page with the tag #drfischman. We’ll choose several questions each month to send to her for a reply and we’ll feature it here on the site! You can remain completely anonymous while still getting the information and support you need from other moms who know what it’s like.

All information, content, and material of this website is for informational purposes only and are not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.

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