In association with
It’s common knowledge that young children get lots of colds throughout the year. In fact, kids can catch eight or more colds a year as their systems gradually build up immunity as they grow.
Parents can be forgiven if they blame socialising with other children and people as the root cause, when in actuality, babies and children catching colds is an unavoidable part of growing up. According to the NHS, because there are hundreds of different cold viruses, young children have no immunity to any of them as they’ve never had them before.
Thankfully, most colds get better in five to seven days in kids, but can take up to two weeks in smaller children and babies.
Does your child have a cold?
Cold symptoms come on gradually, and can vary from child to child. They can include a blocked or runny nose, sore throat, headaches, muscle aches, coughs, sneezing, a raised temperature, pressure in ears and face, and a loss of taste and smell.
According to the NCT, If your baby has a runny or blocked nose, looks unwell, or isn’t interested in the usual things, they might have a cold. They may feel sweaty or hotter than usual when you touch their back or chest. A healthy baby has a temperature of between 36 and 37°C. A temperature of 38°C is very high for a baby under three months old, and from three to six months 39°C is considered high.
Of course, if your child’s symptoms are more severe however, they may have the flu. If you are concerned about your child’s symptoms, you should see your GP.
The makers of CALPOL® understand that when your child gets ill, you want to help them get back to normal again as quickly as possible. The range of medicines from the makers of CALPOL® treat your little one’s pain, fever, cough or cold.
Using a vapour plug
One particular product that some Mumsnetters swear by is the CALPOL® Vapour Plug & Nightlight (use from 3 months, non medicine) to help with clear and easy breathing.
Designed to create a restful environment, the vapour plug contains lavender which is proven to help your child sleep better, and it lasts up to eight hours for clear and easy breathing at night.
Suitable to use from three months old, the CALPOL® Vapour Plug & Nightlight can be used in your child’s room overnight or during the day when they’re ill. Plus, it’s a 2-in-1 product, as it contains a soft night light that will provide a soothing light for your child if they don’t want to sleep in complete darkness.
What else you can do when your child has a cold
Here are some suggestions of what you can do when your child has a cold.
1. Use saline drops to relieve a stuffy nose
If your baby or child has a stuffy nose and is struggling to clear it, they may be finding it hard to breathe. Saline drops can help to loosen dried snot and treat congestion. If you’re unsure about how to use saline drops, your pharmacist or health visitor can explain.
2. Keep them hydrated
If your baby is still breastfeeding, you should offer them milk more often throughout the day to ensure they stay hydrated. For weaned infants and kids who are eating solid food, offer plenty of cool drinks, especially water.
3. Give them children’s paracetamol or ibuprofen
If your child has a high temperature, or they’re experiencing pain, you can give them children’s paracetamol or ibuprofen to help. Make sure you check the label for age limits and conditions before administering the medicine to your child.
Children with asthma may not be able to take ibuprofen, so check with a pharmacist, GP or health visitor first.
4. Don’t overheat your house
Your child will be more comfortable in a well-aired room at normal temperature.
5. Wash hands regularly with soap
Encourage the whole family to wash their hands regularly to stop the cold spreading.
6. Offer a drink with lemon and honey
If your child has a cough, and is over the age of one, they can try drinking a warm drink of lemon and honey. To make hot lemon with honey at home, you need to: squeeze half a lemon into a mug of boiled water, add one to two teaspoons of honey, and let your child drink it while it’s still warm (but do not give hot drinks to small children).
Is it a cold or flu?
It can be hard to tell if your child has a common cold or something else, such as flu. You can often treat a cold without seeing a GP, and your child should begin to feel better in five to seven days.
Here are the main differences between colds and flu.
A blocked or runny nose, sneezing
A sore throat or cough
Headaches and/or muscle aches
A raised temperature
Pressure in their ears/face
Loss of taste or smell
Generally, colds make your little ones feel unwell but they’re capable of carrying on normal activities.
Symptoms can come on very quickly
A sudden high temperature
Aching body, feeling tired or exhausted
A dry cough and/or sore throat
Loss of appetite
Diarrhoea or tummy pain
Feeling sick and being sick
Generally, the flu can make your child feel exhausted and too unwell to carry on normal activities. Children may also experience pain in their ear, and appear less active.
When to seek medical advice
If you believe that your child is suffering from something more serious than a common winter cold it is wise to seek medical advice.
A normal temperature in babies and children is around 36.4°C, but this can vary slightly from child to child. According to the NHS, if your child has a high temperature (38 °C or more), you should:
give them plenty of fluids
look out for signs of dehydration
give them food if they want it
check on your child regularly during the night
keep them at home
give them either paracetamol or ibuprofen if they're also distressed or unwell – check the packaging or leaflet to make sure the medicine is suitable for your child, or speak to a pharmacist or doctor if you're not sure
get medical advice if you're worried about your child
try to keep your child at home and avoid contact with other people until they do not have a high temperature
The information provided in this feature is for guidance and educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns about your health, please consult with a licensed healthcare professional such as a GP or nurse.
For generations, mums and dads have reached for CALPOL® products when their children feel poorly. From stuffy noses and sore throats, to aches and pains, fevers and teething, we’ve carefully developed a family of effective medicines and non-medicines to help you take great care of your little one.
CALPOL® Vapour Plug & Nightlight (from 3 months) to help with clear and easy breathing. Non medicine. Always read the label.
CALPOL® Infant Suspension for infants 2 months + (weighing over 4kg & not premature). Contains paracetamol. For pain and fever. Always read the label.
CALPOL® Saline Nasal Drops (from birth) for congestion relief. Non medicine. Always read the label.
CALPROFEN® Ibuprofen Suspension for infants 3+ months (weighing over 5kg). For pain and fever. Always read the label.
CALCOUGH® Infant Syrup (for 3+ months). Contains glycerol. For cough. Always read the label.
About the author
Rebecca Roberts is a writer, editor, and content marketing expert hailing from Leeds. Here at Mumsnet, she commissions, writes, and edits to bring parents content designed to make life easier. Having birthed two babies just 15 months apart, she knows all too well how stressful it can be when DC catch colds. Particularly when her eldest DC is nursery age. As a result, she knows what works (and doesn't work) when it comes to handling those pesky germs. Which is why, when reading one of our guides you know you can trust her experience and recommendations.
Beyond her role as an editor here at Mumsnet, Rebecca can be found balancing life as a working mum of two toddlers and when she’s not at her desk, you’ll likely find her at a local playgroup, in a nearby coffee shop, or walking the dog.