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Cold and flu are very common in infants and children.

Firstly, Cold and Flu are not the same. A lot of people confuse cold with the flu. Even I understood the difference when my son tested positive for Influenza Virus a.k.a Flu, when he was 2.

Cold symptoms are a runny nose, cough, body aches, and congestion, rather you can say a mild respiratory illness than flu. Whereas the flu is a more serious condition that has all symptoms of cold along with fever and it can lead to serious conditions like pneumonia and eventually, a patient needs to be hospitalized if symptoms get worse.

Although cold symptoms go away in a couple of days whereas flu takes about 2 weeks to get better.

Children are more likely to have a fever with a cold. For this reason, children need to be examined thoroughly to find out the cause of fever. Sometimes, it could be due to some kind of infection, like ear infection that needs to be ruled out and treated right away. 

Babies and older kids are very much vulnerable to catch a viral cold or flu. They tend to fall sick more easily as they like to enjoy outdoor activities.

In general cleaning and avoiding outdoors during flu season, is the best you could do. Moreover, kids do fall sick due to seasonal allergies. If your child gets a seasonal allergy, here is what you should do about it. 

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How to treat cold and flu in babies

These are the steps that can help your baby feel better while being at home.

1. Frequent Feedings 

For breastfeeding babies – Nurse them more frequently than normal.

They usually stop eating altogether, or take very less feed because babies don’t know how to breathe through their mouths. They couldn’t latch for a long time as in normal conditions. For that reason, breastfeeding babies should be fed on demand and more frequently due to keeping them hydrated for the most part. 

2. Humidifier 

The humidifier helps with dryness. It releases moisture in the air that helps in loosening the mucus that makes it less hard to breathe with a stuffy nose.

In addition to that, humidifiers require frequent cleaning. The foam inside gets mold sometimes due to poor ventilation around the house. Thus, you have to make sure your room/house has a proper ventilation system.

On the other hand, for a cleaner environment when you have kids around the house, an air purifier is a must to avoid allergies while being at home.

3. Nebulizer

Nebulizers are prescribed when it is too much congested for babies and breathing gets tough, for that reason, pediatrician recommends nebulizers.

A nebulizer turns liquid medicine into a mist to help treat respiratory issues. The nebulizer is recommended to use every 6 to 8 hours for infants when they cannot take oral medication as they are too little. DO NOT USE IT UNLESS SUGGESTED BY YOUR PEDIATRICIAN.

4. Medication: Tylenol / Motrin

Over the counter medicines like, fever reducers are considered safe for babies unless prescribed by the doctor. You need to dose every 6 to 8 hours as per doctor’s advice.

5. Antibiotics

When the viral illness is not treated properly it gets a bacterial illness and for that, you have to give antibiotics to your little ones. Antibiotics are prescribed by your child’s pediatrician when the baby gets a high fever due to body infections.

6. Nasal Spray

Saline spray is a medicated saltwater. It softens the mucus inside the nasal passage and definitely worth having a product at home all the time.

Spray 2 to 3 times or as needed in each nostril for babies or kids. Especially at night when babies have trouble sleeping through the night due to the congested nose, the saline spray works wonders.

7.  Nasal suction device  

Nose Frieda, nasal aspirator is a lifesaver for a congested nose. Every new parent must have this at home. Spray a couple of times in each nostril and suck mucus out of the baby’s nose. Surely, that’s a relief.

Battery Operated Nasal Suction

Although nose Frieda is the best for babies and the only negative for using nose Frieda is it is manual suction. However, you can still have a battery-operated nasal suction that will save you so much time and energy.


When your baby is sick due to cold or flu, always use that at night followed by nasal spray so she can sleep better at night.

8. Boogie wipes 

Boogies wipes help you wipe off the runny or congested nose more easily without causing rashes around the nose which usually happens due to frequent wipe off with an ordinary dry napkin.

9. Hydration is the key

Keep babies/toddlers, well hydrated. They might refuse to eat or drink, but whatever form of liquid you prefer – breastmilk, formula, juices, water, popsicles – just keep offering to help your child stay hydrated.

Baby is refusing to eat? Find out the reasons why the baby has suddenly stopped eating.

10. Warm Bath

In case of fever, bathing your baby with warm water daily can help reduce fever. Even in the case of common cold, showers can significantly help loosen mucus. Taking steam in a hot bath also helps your baby feel better.

11. The best tip to help with congestion

This is the tip I use for both of my kids, as soon as I forsee a symptom of being sick, for instance, runny or stuffy nose. After bathing my kids I apply a decent layer of Vick baby rub under their feet and put on socks. It significantly helps them with runny or stuffy noses. For the most part, this trick works for sure.

The first thing to remember, do not apply Vicks on baby nose directly. However, in very rare cases for seriously congested noses and difficulty sleeping at night, I apply a dab of baby rub on a sheet, bib or pillow in order to help with breathing.

A piece of advice for parents/guardians

Parents really have to have patience. It’s very much nerve-wracking to see your child suffering in pain. Being a parent, you feel miserable to see your child in pain and you do not have a magic wand to treat them overnight. The best you can do is keep calm, it takes a few days for them to feel better.

Furthermore, for flu (influenza virus) it takes about 2 weeks for a child to feel normal again. Always get a flu test if your child has a fever with other symptoms of a cold.

These are my tried and tested tips for cold or flu. Nebulizer, oral medicine and antibiotics should only be used if prescribed by your child’s pediatrician. In the case of seasonal allergies, here is what you need to know. 

If your baby is running high fever more than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, you should call your doctor.

Kids Essentials for sick days – how you can soothe them when they are sick. 

Mommy mistakes with newborn babies.

19 Mistakes first-time parents make with babies. 

How to treat stomach flu for toddlers.

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