What Makes Infants and Toddlers More Susceptible to Colds?

A Doctor in Uniform

The common cold is a very common sickness for babies and young children, and nearly every child experiences at least a few colds per year. However, some little ones are more susceptible to colds than others, and the degree of severity varies from one child to another.

Here is an overview of the risk factors for the common cold in toddlers and infants and how parents can know when there is a more serious problem that requires medication attention.

Risk Factors for the Common Cold in Toddlers & Infants

During babies’ first couple months of life, they are typically the most susceptible to colds and infections because their immune systems are not yet fully developed. Mothers may choose to breastfeed their newborns to help prevent sickness because breast milk contains antibodies that can fight germs. Parents who bottle-feed their babies should sterilize bottles and nipples after each feeding in order to prevent the spread of germs.

Infants and toddlers who attend daycare are often more susceptible to colds because of the germs other kids are carrying and the close contact with other children. Parents can help keep their children healthy by washing toys and pacifiers with warm water and soap after use and washing their hands after playtime and before meals. Taking public transportation or being surrounded by large crowds at events may also put kids at risk of developing a cold-causing virus.

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How to Distinguish a Common Cold in Toddlers from Something More Serious

Colds are typically accompanied by symptoms of runny nose, congestion, sore throat, and cough. Children may also experience headaches and low-grade fevers when they have colds. However, the flu is a more serious illness that is often marked by those symptoms as well as higher fevers, chills, body aches, and fatigue. Children with the flu may also experience vomiting and diarrhea.

A condition more serious than a common cold in toddlers and infants likely exists if a child does not feel better once the fever decreases. Persistent symptoms after the fever comes down could mean the child has an ear infection, a urinary tract infection, or even pneumonia. Pain associated with the common cold is typically generalized pain that is felt all over the body. But if a child has targeted pain in one body part, such as the ear or neck, this could indicate a more serious problem. Cold symptoms should not last more than two weeks, but if new symptoms arise, a new viral illness or bacterial infection, like sinusitis, could be to blame.

When to See a Doctor

If an infant or toddler has symptoms of fever and pain, over-the-counter medications like PediaCare can help. However, it is important to seek medical attention from a trusted pediatrician to get an accurate diagnosis and treat the symptoms that exist.

Cold symptoms in children are fairly similar to those in adults, so parents should keep an eye out for anything that seems abnormal. It may be time to call a pediatrician if a child’s mucous has become green, yellow, or gray. High fevers that don’t come down quickly are also a reason to call a professional. Parents should also monitor their children’s breathing because difficulty breathing, fast breathing, and excessive wheezing are not normal symptoms of a cold. Extreme and prolonged fatigue during periods of the day when a child is regularly active may also be a sign that a doctor’s input is needed to help the child feel better and recover.

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