Cold vs. Flu In Baby & Toddler: Symptoms and Treatments

by Amanda Caswell

Hey There,

When cold and flu season hits, it often feels like there’s no escape, which is why protecting your baby and toddler from these highly contagious respiratory illnesses should be a top priority, especially with the flu being unusually bad this year. Here's what you should know about the symptoms and caring for your little one if she contracts a nasty illness.

Common Cold Symptoms:
Watery eyes
Mild body aches and headaches
Dry throat
Runny nose

Flu Symptoms:
Fever (often high)
Extreme tiredness
Dry cough
Sore throat
Runny nose
Muscle aches
Vomiting, Diarrhea, Nausea

The good news is that babies 6 months and older can be given a flu shot with a booster a month later. Babies under 6 months can reap the benefits of their mother’s flu shot through breastmilk. Breastmilk is one of the best ways to help a baby stay safe and immune from contagious diseases.

When To Call the Doctor For A Cold
If your child is under 3 months call your doctor immediately if you see any sign of illness. If your child is older than 3 months, call your doctor if your child is experiencing persistent nasal mucus for more than 2 weeks. Additionally, if discharge begins seeping from your baby’s eyes, you’ll want to call the doctor. These symptoms can be indicative of a sinus infection.  Call your doctor if your child is experiencing ear pain, has a cough for over a week, or is excessively lethargic.

If your child is vomiting or has a lot of diarrhea, be sure to offer hydrating drinks like Pedialyte. You can also offer foods to help stop the uncomfortable stomach pain with portions of rice, noodles, or toast.

When to Call the Doctor For A Fever
Knowing when to call the doctor for a fever is crucial. The following are the important fever temperatures you need to know to keep your baby safe.
If your baby is 3 months or younger and has a fever of 100.4◦F or higher
If your baby is 3 to 6 months and has a temperature of 101.1◦F or higher
If your baby is over 6 months and has a temperature of 103◦F or higher

Regardless of age, if your child ever has a fever of 104◦F or higher call your doctor or take them directly to the emergency room. This temperature can be indicative of something extremely serious and life threatening.

When to Call the Doctor For A Flu
Regardless of age, immediately upon noticing flu symptoms in your baby or toddler, call your doctor. Your child’s pediatrician may be able to issue an antiviral medication within the first 48 hours to help reduce symptoms.

While cold and flu season can be scary, it’s absolutely unavoidable.You can help ease the anxiety of these contagious diseases by getting a flu shot for your baby or toddler and keeping germs at bay by using disinfectants on countertops and changing tables and regularly sanitizing toys (if there are older siblings in the house, check out these 5 Easy Tasks To Prevent Germ Spread To Younger Siblings. Warm snuggly hugs and extra kisses have also been known to help kids heal a little faster, too.

XO, Amanda

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Amanda Caswell

About The Author

Amanda Caswell is a fulltime freelance advertising copywriter and writer for a variety of parenting sites. She lives just outside of NYC with her loving husband, two kids, and two cats who still like to think they are her only babies. When she has time to herself she likes to use that 12 seconds of freedom to take a sip of coffee.