Winter is upon us and it’s the season for coughs and colds. As adults, we know how to manage these illnesses – blowing our noses, cough and cold remedies, etc – but how do we minimise the discomfort for babies? Lisa Clegg, author of The Blissful Baby Expert, shares her advice for treating a cold in babies.

Coughs and colds

In my experience the majority of babies tend to develop their first little cold by the age of six to eight weeks, whether they are born in the summer or the winter. If your baby is your second or third child though, and already has older siblings, then it is more likely that she will develop a cold earlier with the germs being brought home from school or nursery by her siblings.

Signs and symptoms

You may notice she sounds very snuffly and bunged up. She may even be snorting a lot and sound like a little piggy as she tries to breathe through her blocked nostrils. Being so bunged up in her nose may also make it more difficult for her to feed.

Usually as she drinks and swallows she would be breathing through her nose. If she has a cold this will be more difficult to do and she will get tired a lot quicker as she feeds, from the extra effort she has to put in. She may also cough and splutter more or even vomit after a feed, as she tries to co-ordinate the sucking, swallowing and breathing all at the same time.

Treating colds in babies

The recommended treatment by doctors and pharmacists to begin with is to use saline nasal drops. This is basically sterile water in a bottle and can be squirted up her nose before a feed. The water irritates her bunged-up nose and causes her to sneeze almost immediately. This is exactly what you need to happen to help unblock her nose.

Babies cannot blow their noses so this helps to relieve the problem. Squirting the nasal drops up each nostril before a feed and making her sneeze will help ease her stuffiness and hopefully enable her to feed easier.

Other things to try when she is sleeping:

• Prop the Moses basket/cot up at the head end by placing books etc. under the feet. This puts her sleeping position at more of a slant to help her breathe better.
• You can also put a towel/blanket under her mattress if you want to. This will also slant her sleeping position to help her breathe easier.

If she develops a cough with her cold then always get it checked by a doctor as some cold viruses can lead to chest infections or croup.


(You should always consult with your doctor and/or your healthcare professional with regards to medical treatments and medical advice that you read on or anywhere else online.)

About the author: Lisa Clegg has an NNEB Diploma in Childcare and Education and has held various jobs caring for babies and young children, including being a night maternity nurse. She is the author of the popular book ‘The blissful baby expert’ and a mother of three.