The start of school or a change of seasons generally brings with it colds and flu. All children, babies and toddlers in particular, are more likely to suffer from common illnesses as they are developing immunity.

Here is my “What you need to know” guide to managing common childhood illnesses:

First and foremost its important to know that by far the majority of colds and all flu (influenza) are viral. This means that there really is no cure, as such, for colds and flu, so it’s a case of managing the symptoms and keeping baby comfortable.

Snotty noses

The rhinovirus is the virus that often is responsible for the common cold. This virus makes your nose run and increases the mucous in the upper respiratory tract (nose and upper chest).  A snotty nose is a nuisance because it makes your baby’s nose stuffy and blocked, which affects her ability to feed – especially if she is only on milk feeds. The best thing you can do is to use a saline nasal spray to clear the passages.

Fever

Any infection – bacterial or viral can elicit a fever. A fever is generally accepted to be a body temperature of over 38 degrees Celsius. To take a temperature, use a thermometer – I prefer digital thermometers – under the armpit. The digital thermometer will beep when it has recorded the temperature.

If your baby is fighting off an infection, her body may raise in temperature in an attempt to eliminate the germs and infection. So a fever in fact is a good response to illness. However, it does leave your baby feeling achy and irritable and can result in a miserable baby who won’t eat. For this reason you will want to manage the fever with some Paracetamol which will decrease the fever and also help your baby feel a little better.

As a caution – little babies should not have a painkiller or fever medication that is a combination of a few active ingredients unless prescribed by a medical doctor – so stick to straight forward Paracetamol if you are using over-the-counter medication.

When to call the doctor

  • If your baby is sick under 4 months of age.
  • If your baby is sick for more than three days or appears to be getting worse.
  • If your baby’s fever rises very rapidly and there is a risk of febrile convulsions.
  • If your baby has a fever with a rash.
  • If your baby has a fever with vomiting.
  • If your baby is not eating or drinking at all when sick.
  • If your baby is coughing with a fever.

Immunity

It is worth trying to boost your baby’s immunity so that they don’t catch all the seasons’ germs. In addition to diet and vitamins, it is worth using an immunity boosting preparation especially for babies and toddlers.