NOT-SO-FUN-FACT: There are over 200 types of viruses that can cause colds. Yep, you read right! The chances of your baby coming into contact with one of these viruses in the first year is, well, pretty darned high.

On average, most babies will get 8-12 COLDS IN THEIR FIRST YEAR. Crazy hey? Nothing really prepares you for that very first cold though. My third baby got her first cold at just 3 weeks of age! Not a fun couple of weeks for us. Luckily there are a few cold and flu products suitable for babies as young as this.

Does my baby have a cold?

Here are a few symptoms to watch out for:

  • Stuffy or runny nose:  The nasal discharge may be thin and clear and turn thicker and yellow-green as the cold passes.
  • Fussiness and extra clinginess: Babies don’t know how to express that they aren’t feeling well so they often will want extra cuddles.
  • Fever: This is one way your baby’s body works to fight off colds but it can be extremely distressing to feel your baby getting hotter and hotter.
  • Coughing: Often worse at night, especially when the air temperature drops.
  • Trouble sleeping: This may include trouble falling asleep or staying asleep for longer than an hour. Frequent wakings are very common when your baby has a cold.
  • Reduced appetite: Together with difficulty breastfeeding or taking a bottle due to nasal congestion.

Your baby’s first cold checklist

It can be incredibly worrying and hard for new parents which is why it’s a good idea to be armed and ready with a few cold and flu essentials. These products can be used over and over again when your baby has a cold, plus are suitable and useful for older kids too.

Below are the items you’ll need on hand.

1. Thermometer

Braun Touchless thermometer

First things first – is baby sprouting a fever? You’ll need a thermometer to know for sure. *Make sure you scroll down to the bottom for tips on when to call a doctor if your little one does have a fever. 

There are several different thermometers on the market including temperature strips, smart thermometers, digital probe thermometers, forehead thermometers and ear thermometers. Consider the ease of use, accuracy and comfort for bub when making your choice.

Our pick would be a forehead thermometer which allows you to scan your baby’s temperature without having to touch them or wake them. Forehead thermometers will set you back around the $100 mark.

2. Vaporizer

The next thing every parent needs to combat colds in babies is a vaporizer. Vaporizers use warm steam to relieve the symptoms associated with coughs and colds. A vaporizer adds moisture to the air, which helps to alleviate a sore, scratchy throat, crusty nose and itchy eyes.

It can also liquefy mucous secretions, making it easier to expel this yucky gunk, ease coughing and make it easier for our little ones to get some sleep.

Our recommendation is the Vicks WarmSteam Vaporizer, and not surprisingly. Vicks has won an award in the Reader’s Digest Most Trusted Brands Awards for the 3rd year running and ticks all the boxes and more. It’s affordable (around $70-ish), comes with a 12-14 hour operating time for overnight use, automatically shuts off when the water level gets low and is safe for babies of all ages (kids and adults too). It’s great for relieving symptoms of colds, coughs, the flu and even allergies.

The Vicks WarmSteam Vaporizer is a winner when it comes to treating coughs and colds. Source: Supplied

Plus, the steam from a Vicks WarmSteam Vaporizer is 25% cooler than conventional vaporizers. Not to mention it comes with the trusted Vicks name and a five-year warranty!

You can find out more about the Vicks WarmSteam Vaporiser on the Vicks website. They are available to purchase at most chemists as well as at Baby Bunting.

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3. Nasal Spray

Nasal sprays are natural, safe and effective for babies. Source: Bigstock

A snotty, snuffy nose is a common symptom of colds. Babies don’t have the ability to blow their little noses so it’s up to us to bring out the big guns and help them. A saline nasal spray is a natural, safe and effective option that uses saline to thin the mucus causing the congestion and assists your child to breathe out of the nose.

There are drops as well as sprays available and most are under $15. Definitely a must-have.

4. Snot Sucker (if you dare!)

Snot suckers are a cheap and effective way to remove snot for easy breathing. Source: Bigstock

You can also buy a snot sucker, which, well, does exactly what the name suggests. It sucks the snot out of their nose. Some saline sprays come with an aspirator that allows you to suction the snot out.

But you can also purchase “snot suckers” individually for around the $20 mark. They are suitable for newborns and up.

5. Pain Relief (optional)

Pain relief can be effective for fever with young babies. Source: Supplied

If your child has a fever, you may want to consider pain relief. Pain relief isn’t effective in combatting coughs and colds but it can make your little one feel less miserable.

Paracetamol may be taken from 1 month of age. Ibuprofen may be taken from 3 months of age. However, always consult your doctor or pharmacist beforehand. 

How you can help your baby 

Upright Cuddles

new dad with baby
Upright cuddles can help to keep baby breathing easier. Source: Bigstock

An upright cuddle from mum or dad is not only comforting but also helps keep the mucus from coming up. Skin-to-skin contact is also very soothing for your little sick bubba.

Get comfortable in a chair, have the remote handy, and let your little one sleep on you. There is no place in the world they would rather be.

Lots of breastfeeding/liquids

breastfeeding baby
Extra breastfeeding can certainly help to calm baby if they’re able to breathe easily. Source: Bigstock

Prepare for some epic cluster feed sessions. It can be hard for snotty-nosed babies to suck, but it certainly does make them feel better! The extra liquid is good for their immune system and also comforting when they’re not feeling 100%.

If your little one is over 6 months old, you can also offer a small amount of water.

Keep an eye on their fever

See our section below for when you should see a doctor.

Prepare for a few hard days/nights

baby sleep safety practices
It’s likely that sleep will be all over the place when your baby’s sick, so be prepared. Source: Bigstock

When your little one has a cold, you can expect to be needed. A LOT. Reschedule any plans, leave the housework for now and simply be there for your little one.

You may find they won’t sleep unless you are holding them which means it’s going to be hard to get much else done. Take this time to rest yourself and remove any expectations. Just be there for your baby. That’s all you need to do.

When to see a Doctor:

1. If your baby is under 2 or 3 months old, they should be seen by a doctor if they have a cold.

2. If your baby has a fever, these are the recommendations of when to see a doctor based on age:

  • If bub is under 3 months – 38°C or higher
  • If bub is between 3 and 6 months – 39°C or higher
  • No matter their age, if a fever persists for more than 5 days 

3. If your baby has ANY of the following symptoms:

  • Rash and/or a bluish tinge around nail pads or lips
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhoea
  • Persistent or croupy cough
  • Odd, unusual-sounding cry
  • Trouble breathing
  • Retractions — when the areas below and between the ribs and in the neck sink in with each attempt to inhale
  • Thick green mucus or bloody mucus from the nose or mouth
  • Rubbing their ear, or other sign of physical discomfort or pain anywhere in their body
  • Refusal to nurse or take a bottle and/or signs of dehydration, such as not wetting as many diapers as they usually do

Baby’s first cold

Here’s the thing about your baby’s first cold – it only happens once. Whether they start to sniffle at three weeks or three months, keep the above information in mind.

Having a few key products on hand, knowing the signs and symptoms and knowing when to call a doctor will ensure you’re prepared and help ease your mind.

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This is a sponsored post for Vicks Australia & New Zealand

*Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, speak to your healthcare professional. Certain trademarks used under license from The Procter & Gamble Company or its affiliates.


Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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