Let’s face it – kids are germ factories. While toddlers may not yet be good at sharing toys, they are extremely good at sharing germs and viruses. All it takes is a sneeze onto a toy or a snuffle into a hand that then touches another hand, and there you have it. Germs are shared.
Catching a cold is extremely common in childhood, given how easily the viral infection can spread. In fact, most healthy children will have up to ten colds in the first two years of their lives!
The good news is that the common cold is generally not serious in children. Many toddlers hardly seem to slow down at all when they have a cold. All you may notice is a steady stream of yellow or green snot coming out of their nose. That said, they may experience similar symptoms to adults, such as:
Coughing and sneezing
Loss of appetite
If your toddler has a cold and is experiencing some of the symptoms above, medicine won’t fix things. That’s because the common cold is a virus (antibiotics can only treat bacterial infections). Instead, it’s a matter of riding it out and making them as comfortable as possible.
Some things you can do to relieve the symptoms of a cold in your toddler include:
Make sure they get plenty of rest
Put a humidifier in their room at night to reduce congestion and make breathing easier
Use a gentle nasal spray to help break up mucus in their nose
Give them lots of water
Offer nutritious, easy-to-eat foods high in Vitamin C (hello, berries!)
Cool them down with a cold compress if they have a fever
Your toddler’s cold may last anywhere from a 3-10 days. If you’re at all concerned that it’s not improving, you should take them to the doctor. Likewise, a trip to the doctor is recommended if your toddler:
Won’t drink fluids
Has an intense headache
Is pale and sleepy
Has difficulty breathing
Is younger than 3 months old and has a fever
Has a rash that doesn’t disappear when you hold a glass against it
Has a cough that lasts more than 3 weeks
To help prevent the virus spreading to other children, you should keep them home from childcare or playgroup until their symptoms disappear. Also, if they are old enough, you should teach them the importance of regularly washing their hands. If they’re too young to pick up on this, then you can do it for them.
While a cold can be annoying for both parents and children, think of it as a way of gradually building up your little one’s immune system – and a great excuse for some extra cuddles!