How To Recognize Common Cold Symptoms In Babies And Toddlers


Determining whether a child had a common cold or not is a difficult task for any parent. A parent’s paramount concern is their child’s health, and parents should know how to recognize when their child exhibits common cold symptoms and when it is appropriate to take their child to a health facility. Read more below on how to identify common cold symptoms in babies and toddlers and on what to do when your child exhibits these symptoms.

What is a common cold?

A common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. Common colds in adults and babies are similar, with the cold virus occurring primarily in the nose and throat. During the infection, the baby or toddler’s inflamed nasal tissue will likely result in nasal congestion and a runny nose.

Babies and toddlers are particularly at risk for common colds because they do not have a fully developed immune system. In fact, the Mayo Clinic notes that babies often have up to seven common colds in their first year of life. Many viruses that an adult’s immune system could fight off easily will, unfortunately, result in a common cold in a baby or toddler.

Note that colds spread easily among children, so your baby may experience more than seven colds in their first year if they visit a daycare center. Common colds with babies are a part of life, and there is nothing that a parent can do to prevent their child from ever having a cold. However, parents must be able to recognize common cold symptoms and know when to seek appropriate pediatric healthcare.

What are the common symptoms of a common cold in babies and toddlers?

Common colds with babies and toddlers may result in one or just a few of the following cold symptoms. Take note and be on high-alert if your baby or toddler shows any of the following: A “runny nose”

  • Nasal congestion or a “stuffy nose” Coughing or sneezing, especially during the night
  • Sneezing
  • Decreased appetite or difficulty taking a bottle
  • Irritability or difficulty sleeping
  • Fever (between 101 and 102)

A runny nose and nasal congestion are typically the first side effects of a sick child, as those symptoms are a result of the body’s first line of defenses against the virus.

When should I take my baby or toddler to a doctor?

First, we should say that a parent’s instinct is vital in maintaining the health and wellbeing of their baby or toddler. If a parent ever feels that their baby should visit a healthcare provider, the parent should take their child to a doctor or healthcare facility for a professional assessment.

If a baby or toddler is under three months old, a parent should take the child to a doctor if the child exhibits any cold symptoms whatsoever. At that age, the earlier the symptomatic baby can see a doctor, the better, especially if the child has a fever. A doctor can ensure that the baby is only experiencing a common cold and that the baby’s symptoms are not a sign of more serious health issues.

As a general recommendation, if your child is over three months old, you should call your child’s doctor if the child shows any of the following symptoms:

  • A temperature over 100.4 F
  • A fever lasting over three days
  • A recurring fever
  • A sore throat lasting over five days
  • Difficulty breathing or rapid breath
  • Unusual sleeplessness or general crankiness
  • Red eyes or discharge from the eyes that has a yellow or greenish color
  • A persistent cough
  • Thick and green nasal discharge for multiple days

Also, the Mayo Clinic recommends immediate medical attention if the child exhibits any of the following common cold symptoms:

  • Coughing to the point of vomiting or skin color changes
  • Coughing blood-tinged sputum
  • Difficulty breathing
  • A bluish color around the lips

Unlike older children, a baby or toddler may not be able to communicate their symptoms or difficulties effectively. So, it is crucial to be extra attentive to your child’s health changes, particularly if you think that your child may have a common cold. Remember, if you think that your child should receive medical attention, never hesitate to contact a healthcare professional.

How can a parent help prevent a common cold with their baby or toddler?

First, all parents should understand that their baby or toddler will catch a common cold sometimes, no matter what preventative measures the parents take. As mentioned before, common colds are a part of life. However, parents can take simple preventative steps, including:

  • Washing their hands regularly with hand sanitizer or soap and water
  • Limiting contact with sick people
  • Covering their nose and mouth when they sneeze and washing their hands thereafter

The above precautions are easy and simple. However, they can be extremely effective at reducing the chances that the baby or toddler will get sick!

How do I contact Nevada Pediatric Specialists?

To contact our team at Nevada Pediatric Specialists, please call us directly at (702) 457-5437. However, if you or your child has a medical emergency, you should call 911 immediately.

Our Locations

Choose your preferred location