A cold is caused by a virus that affects the nose and throat. It is the most common infectious illness, especially for young children.
Young children may have 8 to 10 colds each year, with the highest number usually being during the first two years in child care, kindergarten or school. A cold in itself is not serious but colds can sometimes lead to other infections such as ear infections, sinusitis and tonsillitis, bronchiolitis and croup and also trigger asthma.
Helping a baby or child who has a cold
The following information comes from the topic Colds on the Raising Children Network site.
There’s no cure for the common cold. There’s also no specific treatment that can make the cold go away more quickly. There are however things that you can do that may help your child feel better.
- Give your child paracetamol in recommended doses for up to 48 hours. This can help if your child has a fever and is in pain or discomfort. Have a look at the topic 'Using paracetamol or ibuprofen'.
- If your breastfed child is younger than six months, offer extra breastfeeds.
- If your formula-fed child is younger than six months, offer her usual amount of formula. You might need to feed her smaller amounts more frequently if she’s unwell.
- If your child is older than six months, keep breastfeeding or bottle-feeding. You can also offer your child clear fluids, like water. If your child isn’t hungry while he has a fever, that’s OK.
- For children older than 12 months, try giving your child saline nasal drops or spray or eucalyptus inhalant, which can ease a blocked nose.
- It’s a good idea for your child to take things easy, but there’s no need for her to stay in bed. Let your child decide how active she wants to be.
- Although it’s likely your child won’t be hungry, make sure he drinks lots of fluids so that he doesn’t get dehydrated. Your child’s appetite will come back as he starts to feel better.
- Antibiotics do not act on viruses, so they do not help when a child, or adult, has a cold.
More information about colds and management of colds
Raising Children Network (Australian Government)
Pregnancy, birth and baby (Australian Government site)
The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Parent Helpline on 1300 364 100 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).
This topic may use 'he' and 'she' in turn - please change to suit your child's sex.