Babies are more susceptible to coughs and colds than older kids and adults because their immune systems are very weak. As a result, babies usually catch lots of colds in the first few years of their life. In most cases your baby will recover within a week and suffer from no lasting effects, but occasionally a common cold will develop into something more serious. So if your baby is full of cold, when should you call the doctor?
The Cold Isn’t Improving
A cold typically lasts about ten days at the most. If your baby’s cold is lingering on for much longer than this, the symptoms could be as a result of some other underlying condition, so give your doctor a call and ask him to give your baby a health check.
A High Fever
A fever in a baby younger than three months is always something to be concerned about and you could call the doctor immediately. Older babies are less likely to suffer from complications when they develop a fever, but if an older baby has a temperature greater than 102 degrees Fahrenheit, call the doctor. The same applies if your baby has had a temperature for more than three days and you can’t control it with simple home remedies or over the counter medicines.
Babies that can’t feed are likely to become dehydrated very quickly. A cold will affect a baby’s ability to feed and although a baby nasal aspirator will help, you still need to be alert to how often your baby is wetting his diaper. As a rule, a baby should need his diaper changing at least every six hours, so if your baby’s diapers are dry for any longer than this, or he is struggling to feed, call the doctor.
A Bad Cough
As a rule, a cough is normally not anything to worry about, but a cough in a baby that lasts more than a few days, or is so severe that he or she is vomiting, needs checking out. You should also be vigilant if your baby has been exposed to Whooping Cough and has not been vaccinated.
Colds are not pleasant and babies will usually be cranky and bad tempered when they have a cold (as will you from lack of sleep). However, if your baby is particularly poorly, or a lot quieter or sleepier than normal, it is cause for concern.
Other cold symptoms you should not ignore include a persistent runny nose, breathing difficulties, and a baby who continually tugs on his ear. You know your baby better than anyone, so if your parental instinct tells you something is not right, listen to your gut and take your baby to the doctor for a health check.
Most doctors are very understanding with new parents and are more than happy to put your mind at ease. Babies can deteriorate very quickly when they are poorly, so don’t ever feel bad for taking your baby to see his doctor, only to be told it isn’t anything serious. After all, it is better to be safe than sorry.