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Colds And Flu In Infants

Colds And Flu In Infants


Colds are infections within the nose, throat and chest caused by viruses. They can be common in infants as they build up their immunity to viral and bacterial infections. The flu is a contagious disease which affects the respiratory system, caused specifically by the influenza A or B virus. It is common during winter and is spread by particles that are sneezed or coughed into the air or passed on by hand contact.



Cough Common Common
Fever (38°C +) Occasionally Common
Loss of appetite Common Common
Red eyes Common Uncommon
Runny or blocked nose Common Common
Swollen glands Common Common
Tired Common Common


There is no specific treatment for a cold or the flu. Antibiotics don’t target viruses and aren’t prescribed for colds or flu. Our bodies have a natural ability to viral fight infections and most infants will show improvements and recover within 4-7 days of becoming unwell.


Minimise the risk of your infant developing colds or flu by:

  • Getting your child vaccinated when they are 6 months of age,
  • Washing your hands before eating and nursing your baby,
  • Avoiding close contact with those who are unwell,
  • Not sharing drinking cups or bottles.



Sleep patterns can become unsettled, so ensure adequate rest and quiet time periods during the day. Breastfeeding can be difficult with blocked noses. Speak to your health care professional about options if symptoms persist. Fluid intake may decrease leading to dehydration. Continue to breastfeed and offer additional water for older babies. Monitor your baby for any changes in breathing, increasing temperature and level of responsiveness.


See a doctor if your baby:

  • is under 3 months,
  • isn’t drinking and the number of wet nappies is less than usual,
  • has a high fever, or
  • is getting worse or not improving after a couple of days.


See a doctor immediately if your baby is under three months and develops a temperature of more than 38°C (100.4°F) or if you baby is aged three to six months with a temperature higher than 39°C (102.2°F).



The content displayed on this webpage is intended for informational purposes and is a guide only. It does not replace or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Information contained on this webpage must be discussed with an appropriate healthcare professional before making any decisions or taking any action based on the content of this webpage.



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Raising Children Network, 2014, Colds.

Retrieved from


Raising Children Network, 2014, Influenza.

Retrieved from


Royal Children’s Hospital, 2011, Influenza (the flu).

Retrieved from



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