Cold in newborn

All you need to know about the cold in newborns!

Babies bring a wave of happiness to the family. They make us laugh and relieve the stresses of the day to day life. But most of us also worry about their health and try to do everything within our limits to keep them smiling.

Babies have some inborn immunity to illnesses. But their immune system needs more time to get matured and fight against infections. The immature immune system can make our babies more susceptible to viral infections. The common cold is one of them.

Scientists and researchers have identified more than two hundred types of viruses that can cause the common cold. But there is no need to worry about them. Most of these viruses contribute to developing your little angel’s immunity. But we cannot rule out that the first bout of the infant cold can frighten us out of our wits. There is no right cold medicine for infants 6 months or less.

The same is with infant cough remedy. We often ignore the importance of home remedies for infant cough and cold that can be our best asset. The best infant cold remedies may be present in our kitchen.

In which season is cold in newborns more prevalent?

Your baby can get an episode of cold irrespective of age or time of year. Some babies can get ten to twelve cold episodes in their first two years. Your little one is more prone to infection if they are in close contact with older children.

Is cold in newborns dangerous?

Most of the common colds in children are not dangerous. But we cannot ignore them completely. Untreated colds can sometimes evolve into dangerous infections like croup and pneumonia.

If your child is less than three months old, do not hesitate to consult paediatric doctors even for a mild infection.

What are common symptoms of cold in new borne?

Some of the symptoms of the common cold in newborns are:

    • A blocked or runny nose
    • Thin and clear nasal discharge. It may become thick and yellowish-green over several days
    • Fever
    • Cough that may worsen at night
    • Fussiness
    • Sneezing
    • Decrease in appetite
    • May not be able to breastfeed or feed from the bottle due to a blocked nose
    • Disturbed sleep

What are other newborn illnesses that could present as a cold?

Some infections like flu, croup, and pneumonia often manifest symptoms similar to the common cold. These infections can cause severe illnesses if the diagnosis does not happen on time.

Whooping cough

Whooping cough or Pertussis is one of the common respiratory infections. The common symptoms of this infection are:

    • Chest Congestion
    • Sneezing
    • Severe cough

Whooping cough can affect all age groups, but it is more severe in babies under one year.


The best way to prevent whooping cough is to get vaccinated against it.


If not treated properly, an infant cold can progress to pneumonia. Some of the symptoms of pneumonia may include:

    • Rapid breathing
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Worsening cough
    • High fever
    • Chills
    • Vomiting
    • Flushed skin
    • Sweating

Sometimes your baby may develop bluish discoloration on nail beds and lips due to a lack of oxygen in the blood. In such cases, rush to the hospital immediately.


Some of the symptoms of the flu are:

    • Chills
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Blocked or runny nose

Note, there are some symptoms of the flu that your baby cannot tell you. These can be:

    • Headache
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Sore throat


The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot as advised by your health care professional.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)

RSV can cause a severe respiratory infection that can affect people of all races and ages. RSV is potentially more harmful to babies due to the small size of their airways.


Croup is an infection of the upper respiratory tract. It causes a narrowing of the airway. If the babies develop croup, they may develop symptoms like:

    • Difficulty breathing
    • Hoarseness of voice
    • Barking cough
    • Some babies may manifest stridor, a high-pitched sound occurring due to the narrowing of airways.


Bronchioles are the smallest air passages in the lungs. Bronchiolitis is an infection of bronchioles. According to various studies, it is the most common cause of hospitalization in preterm babies. RSV can be a frequent cause of viral bronchitis.

What are the most common causes of cold in newborns?

The common cold is an upper respiratory infection caused by a virus. Contrary to popular belief, bacteria have no role in the etiology of the common cold. Therefore, the latter does not respond to antibiotics.

How does the doctor determine whether it is a common cold or any other condition?

Your healthcare provider may take a nasal swab to determine the organism responsible for your baby’s symptoms. Sometimes the doctor may ask for blood tests to rule out a bacterial infection.

Viral infections may sometimes lead to bacterial infections such as pneumonia and ear infections.

Why are children more susceptible to common colds?

Colds in infants and newborns are common. The causative pathogens can remain active in the air or on surfaces for a short time. Thus, your kid may not be in direct contact with a sick person and still get the infection.

Some instances that can make your baby more susceptible to infection or expose them to infection are:

    • If your baby is around older children
    • Trip to the Pediatric doctors
    • Cuddles with an adult
    • Strolling to the market

According to various studies, breastfed babies have stronger immunity than formula-fed babies. Breast milk is abundant in antibodies, enzymes, and white blood cells that can safeguard your baby from infection.

But do not forget that breastfeeding cannot completely protect your babies from contracting the common cold.

When should I take my baby to a doctor for a common cold?


If your baby is less than three months of age, take them to your pediatrician if they have a cold. It not only can give you peace of mind but can also help in preventing any complications.


Fever is our defense mechanism to fight infection. If your baby is under three years of age and has a fever of more than 38°C, consult your doctor.

You should consult your doctor if the fever is more than five days for babies of any age group.

Other symptoms

Keep a close watch on the symptoms of your infant. Go for a doctor consultation in case your baby exhibit:

    • Vomiting
    • Rash
    • Diarrhoea
    • Persistent cough
    • Croupy cough
    • Odd sounding cry
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Chest retractions (the sinking of areas below and between the ribs and the neck moves in during inhalation)
    • Bloody mucus from the mouth
    • Bloody nasal discharge
    • Expressing signs of physical discomfort like pain
    • Exhibiting signs of dehydration, such as decreased frequency of urination
    • Loss of appetite
    • Bluish discoloration of lips or nail beds

A parent knows the child best. If you are feeling weird about your baby, call your pediatrician immediately.

How do you manage a baby cold? Which infant cold medicine for runny nose is good?

Infant cold remedies at home

Our grandmothers and mothers insisted on the importance of home remedies for infant coughs and colds.

Home remedies for newborn colds, in most cases, are sufficient to ease symptoms and comfort your baby.

Some of the home remedies for colds and coughs in infants are:

    • Keep them hydrated
    • Use a humidifier
    • Suctioning nasal mucus to clear the mucus

We will explain each of these subsequently.

One should not give an infant cold medicine for runny nose and OTC fever reducers without a prescription from the doctor.

Home remedies for newborn cold

Some of the common home remedies for cold and cough in infants are:

Give plenty of liquids:

You can provide breast milk or formula-fed. If your baby is over six months old, you can give them a small amount of water.

Suction out nasal mucus:

One can use saline drops with a suction bulb.

Cold-mist humidifier:

Use a cool-mist humidifier to moisturize the air. Avoid using hot-water humidifiers as they may pose a risk of burning.

Things to avoid an infant cold:

Our popular antibiotics are ineffective against viruses, therefore, not recommended for cold treatment.

Over-the-counter (OTC) anti-fever and other cold medicine for infants 6 months or less are not recommended unless directed by your doctor.

Avoid giving aspirin to your baby.

Vapor rubs can be irritating to the airways of your kids. Avoid using them for children less than two years.

Avoid sleeping your child on their stomach.

There is no other definitive treatment for an infant cold. The best option is to develop their immunity against it. Just make them relaxed and give them the comfort they need.

How long does a baby cold last?

The average baby cold lasts for ten to fourteen days. It includes the period when the baby does not display many symptoms (asymptomatic carrier period). It also includes the time when the baby starts showing signs of recovery.

How can I prevent a baby cold?

Indian home remedies for running noses in infants are one of the most effective ways to manage colds. But often we are clueless about how to prevent it. Let us discuss a few easy tips related to managing the baby cold.


It is the most effective way of boosting immunity in your baby. If you cannot breastfeed them to satiety, a small amount of breast milk in the formula can help. Colostrum, the first breast milk you produce when the baby is born, is a super-rich source of antibodies.

Follow Proper Hygiene practices.

It is impossible to keep babies in an environment free of microorganisms. No infant cold medicines can prevent the infection. But you can minimize the exposure by following proper hygiene practices:

    • Wash your hands frequently
    • Ask visitors to wash their hands before touching the baby.
    • Avoid contacting the sick.
    • Sanitize the surfaces touched by coughing or sneezing people.
    • People and children around newborns should have taken their pertussis vaccine and flu shots as suggested by the health care professional.

The Conclusion

Cold is one of the most common newborn problems. The microorganisms responsible for it are viruses. Newborn cough and cold are most commonly due to weak immunity. There is no right cold medicine for infants 6 months or less. The same holds for infant cough remedy. The best way is to build immunity and use Indian home remedies for running nose in infants.

Most of these colds are not serious. But, sometimes, they may turn into more severe illnesses. Therefore, it is advisable to talk to a pediatrician if your baby is less than three months or the condition is not improving even after five days.

Remember, the best way to prevent newborn cough and cold is by building immunity and reducing exposure to infections. Home remedies for infant cough and cold can be an arsenal at your disposal.

Dr. Shubhadeep Das

Narayana Health

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