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When Should You Call A Doctor?

From fever and ear infections to curing the common cold, here's what to do when your baby gets sick

by: Sydney Loney

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T

he bad news about your baby’s first cold? It won’t be her last – in fact, she may catch as many as 10 colds in her first year until her immune system gets up to speed. The good news? You can help her feel better, symptom by symptom. Here's what to do when your baby gets sick – and how to tell when it's time to call the doctor:

How to treat common cold symptoms in babies

Babies are nose breathers, says Denise Chapple, chief of pediatrics at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. “They don’t know how to use their mouths to breathe, which makes a runny nose extra hard on them.” A saline nose spray will soften mucous, while a rubber suction bulb can clear her nasal passages. “You probably can’t keep her nose clear all day, but doing it before a feed or nap may help,” says Chapple.

Wiping red, watery eyes with a cool cloth and dimming the lights will make your baby more comfortable.

A baby with a cold may not feel much like eating, but continue offering plenty of fluids. If congestion is making it hard to nurse, try feeding her with a syringe, suggests Chapple.

Call your doctor if: eye discharge is thick or yellow (your baby may have pink eye and need drops) or nasal discharge is thick and greenish for longer than 10 days. Also call the doctor if your infant steadfastly refuses to eat, or begins vomiting.

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