Flu season: The dos and donts of how to treat your babys cold

It’s cold and flu season and for the most part, we get through it with a solid dose of Lemsip and some sympathy – but our babies are another story.

We can’t give them a steaming mug of our go-to, or even get them to blow their nose or cough up their mucus – and we’ve never felt so helpless. Listening to their tiny, painful-sounding little coughs, we know they’re feeling miserable, and we’re miserable and at a loss as a result.

What can we do to help them? How can we make this pass quickly for them? We’re here with all the info:

Give them plenty of fluids

Crop faceless mother in casual clothes embracing and feeding cute newborn baby with milk from bottle in daylight at home

Like anyone else, babies need lots of fluids when they’re under the weather. Diluting the congestion and flushing the bacteria out of the system is key to finishing up the cold early. Breast milk and formula are great fluids to use and if the baby is over four months old, water is also another liquid you can use.

Clear nasal passages

Crop mother playing with baby

You’ll know baby’s nose is blocked when they make snorting of snuffling noises. It’s important to try to clear it if you can, as babies cannot breathe through their mouths if they’re under 6 months old, making feeding difficult for them. They also tire much more easily with a blocked nose. One way that the NHS recommends clearing their nasal passages is by gently stroking the inside of a nostril with a wisp of cotton wool to make baby sneeze and clear the blocked mucus. You can also use small suckers, available from pharmacists or baby shops, to suck the mucus from your baby’s nostrils before feeding and sleeping.

If neither of those work to clear baby’s nose, then try using saline drops which will thin out the mucus and make it easier for baby to clear their nose. Either purchase from a chemists or make your own: ½ teaspoon salt in 250ml water. Keep in a sterile bottle for up to five days. Use a cotton wool ball to drip two drops into each nostril before feeds and sleep only if the nose is blocked.

Keep their head elevated

Woman Carrying A Baby

When baby’s head is elevated, it allows the mucus to drain from their head area so that it prevents them from being blocked up. Keeping their head elevated during sleep is essential to ensure they can breathe properly. Try not to let them roll over in their sleep as this could lead to further congestion.


water traces on glass window

Run a bath or the shower and steam up the bathroom! Bring baby in and let them breathe in the steam for a while to try to loosen up some of the mucus blocking up their nose and chest. Don’t allow the room to be too warm, just try to keep it steamy if you can to help with the decongestion.

Sanitise often

Crop housewife cleaning surface near sink

Your hands, their toys, their dummies, their bottle tops – anything that they’re regularly slobbering all over or that you’re touching. They can’t do this for themselves so it’s important you keep their environment as germ-free as possible to kick out that cold!

If your child's temperature is very high, or they feel hot and shivery, they may have a chest infection. You should call your GP immediately.