Does Your Baby Have a Cold or Something More Serious?

It's not your fault!

If your baby has a runny nose, a low grade fever and is generally cranky odds are he has a cold. A cold, or upper respiratory infection, is called by one of several different viruses. Because their immune systems are not yet fully developed, babies are particularly susceptible to colds. Colds do not require anything complicated to keep your baby as comfortable as possible. However, if cold symptoms get worse, new symptoms appear or if symptoms last more than two weeks, it is time to visit your doctor. A low grade fever (under 101 F) alone is not a reason to call the doctor. If your baby is running a low fever more more than ten days, however, he may have more than a cold. Ear infections, sinus infections and bronchitis may start with cold-like symptoms but often need antibiotics to fully clear up. (Note, doctors do not always prescribe antibiotics for ear infections. Recent studies have shown they are not necessary or beneficial in most cases.)

In the case of a cold, your baby will generally act less irritable once his fever goes close to normal. If your child is still achy and irritable even when his fever is controlled, it's time to call the doctor to see what the cause of his symptoms might be.

(Note: If your baby is under three months of age, contact your doctor even if you suspect it's just a cold.)

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