Upper Respiratory Infection (Cold) in Children 0 to 3 Months: Care Instructions

Skip Navigation
Sinuses and throat in a child

Overview

An upper respiratory infection, also called a URI, is an infection of the nose, sinuses, or throat. URIs are spread by coughs, sneezes, and direct contact. The common cold is the most frequent kind of URI. The flu and sinus infections are other kinds of URIs.

Almost all URIs are caused by viruses, so antibiotics won't cure them. But you can do things at home to help your child get better. With most URIs, your child should feel better in 4 to 10 days.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your baby at home?

  • If your baby has problems breathing or eating because of a stuffy nose, put a few saline (saltwater) nasal drops in one nostril. Using a soft rubber suction bulb, squeeze air out of the bulb, and gently place the tip inside the baby's nose. Relax your hand to suck the mucus from the nose. Repeat in the other nostril.
  • Place a cool-mist humidifier near your baby. This may help your child breathe. Follow the directions for cleaning the machine.
  • Keep your baby away from smoke. Do not smoke or let anyone else smoke around your baby or in your house.
  • Wash your hands and your baby's hands regularly so that you don't spread the infection.
  • Do not give medicines to babies younger than 3 months old.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child seems very sick or is hard to wake up.
  • Your child has severe trouble breathing. Symptoms may include:
    • Using the belly muscles to breathe.
    • The chest sinking in or the nostrils flaring when your child struggles to breathe.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new or increased shortness of breath.
  • Your child has a new or higher fever.
  • Your child seems to be getting sicker.
  • Your child has coughing spells and can't stop.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter Q463 in the search box to learn more about "Upper Respiratory Infection (Cold) in Children 0 to 3 Months: Care Instructions".




The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.