What is it?

A cold, also known as an upper respiratory infection, is a virus that can cause a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, cough, sore throat and mild fever. It can also cause increased crankiness, decrease appetite and slightly swollen glands. Most young children will get between 8-10 colds per year and that number increases if your toddler is in daycare or preschool. Colds are common as the virus spreads between children in close contact. It can be spread through coughing, sneezing or touching objects that an infected person has touched. The best way to prevent a cold is to keep your hands and your child's hands clean! Most colds can be treated at home and do not need to be seen in the office. They will slowly go away on their own in about 7-10 days and do not need any special medication such as antibiotics.

What can I do?

Colds can make your child uncomfortable but there are many things you can do to help your child feel better at home. Using a cool mist humidifier in your child's bedroom at night will keep the air and therefore your child's nasal passages moist. Encourage your child to drink lots of fluids and try to encourage your child to rest as much as possible. If your child has a fever you may give Tylenol every 4 hours or Motrin every 6 hours. Please see the dosage charts for the proper dose for your child. Nasal congestion can cause your infant or toddler to eat less than usual because the mucus blocks the nasal passages and makes it more difficult to breath while sucking on a bottle or eating. Nasal saline drops may be used to help loosen the mucus and a bulb syringe can be used to help remove the mucus. If you are unsure how to administer nasal saline drops or use a bulb syringe please see the newborn and infant section of the website. An older child may use nasal saline drops then blow the nose to remove the mucus. Please do not give any child under the age of 4 any over the counter cold medications. If your child is over 4 and you would like to use a cold medicine, please consult with the office for the best choice prior to giving anything to your child.

When do I call the office?

  • Please call the office immediately at any time if:
    • Your child is having any difficulty breathing or your child's nostrils are getting wider while taking a breath, the skin between your child's ribs is pulling in while breathing (retractions), any wheezing is heard or your child is breathing much more quickly than normal
    • Your child's lips or nails look blue
    • You child is under 3 months old and has a fever
  • Please call the office during normal hours if
    • Your child's cough lasts for more than 1 week
    • You child has ear pain
    • Your child complains of a very sore throat, has white spots or "pus" on the tonsils and has a fever
    • The fever lasts for more than 3 days