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Little Sniffles: Colds & Flu in Small Babies

colds and flu in small babies

For any parent, seeing a little baby in distress - struggling with a cold and feeling miserable is understandably heartbreaking. Little ones are helpless, unable to voice the exact cause of their unhappiness, and rely solely on us for a comforting hand.

Tips for baby during winter:

Babies need roughly the same layering of clothes as adults for comfort and protection, indoors or outside. Remember that a newborn baby cannot yet regulate body temperature too well so pay close attention to their clothing. If your baby is too cold it may have mottled skin or pale complexion – if it is too hot it may have a sweaty neck or flushed cheeks.

  • Use a cotton knit undershirt as the first layer of clothing and keep it dry with frequent changes.

  • The first week or two, wrap baby in a snug flannel receiving blanket. Keep blankets away from the face, and rather add a layer of clothing at night instead of a blanket to guard against smothering.

  • Cloth diapers need to be changed more often than disposables. Change them whenever you find them wet, to reduce the chance of diaper rash. Disposable diapers may be required by day care providers and are more convenient for travel.

  • If you take a baby outdoors in winter, add a knit or fleece cap, and soft cotton flannel blanket. For added warmth and protection, a second quilted or heavier blanket can be taken along just in case it gets colder. (Don’t use blankets that are too slick or silky - that the baby slips and falls out of your arms!)

  • Remember to protect the baby’s face from wind - drape one of the blankets loosely across the face during trips between the house and car (be sure to uncover the child’s face afterward) and you may also want to hook the blanket inside the car window to create a curtain for sun protection.

  • Once indoors where the temperature is warmer, take the blanket and first layer of clothing (jersey or sweater) off - to prevent overheating and perspiration that can dampen clothes. Clothes that are damp will not be warm when you return outdoors again!

When to worry - Consult your doctor if:

Your child is three to 6 months old with a fever over 38 degrees Celsius, six months and older with a fever 38 degrees Celsius that lasts for more than 2 days, 3 months to 2 years of age with a fever of 39 degrees Celsius, Earache or pulling at ears, has sever headache, stomach pain, swollen joints or stiff neck or problems breathing, fever does not seem to improve or cannot keep food down.

Never give a child younger than 15 years aspirin – as this could potentially lead to a more serious condition.

Most conventional, pharmaceutical adult medications for colds and flu are not suitable for use on small babies or infants. Conventional decongestants can also have upsetting side-effects such as irritability, restlessness, difficulty with sleeping, or drowsiness depending on which is used. Most petroleum-based balms contain harmful petrochemicals and are dangerous for use on adults, not to mention babies! Luckily there are non-petrochemical alternatives that can do the job, without the harm.

Please note: The information on this article is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure and is not a substitute for a professional consultation with a medical or health professional. Do not make any changes or additions to your prescription medicine without first consulting your doctor. Should symptoms persist, please consult your doctor.


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