Colds are very common. As your child starts to socialise with other children, you may find that they get more colds than usual.
Children can have several colds in a year, but as their immune system develops, they will become less frequent. However, as their immune system develops, they will get fewer colds.1,2
The main symptoms of a cold are:
Colds can last for 5 to 14 days.2
The flu (influenza) is a viral infection that has similar symptoms to a cold but can make people feel very unwell.4
The flu can cause:
The flu may take longer to recover from than a cold. It can take over 2 weeks for your child to recover from the flu.4
If your baby catches a cold or the flu, they may have the following symptoms:
You should call your GP or 111 if your baby has any of the above symptoms or any symptoms you are worried about.3
Most of the time, cold and flu can be treated at home. You should make sure your child gets a lot of rest and drinks plenty of water.2
You can also talk to your local pharmacist about paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat your child’s temperature and aches and pains.
Some children with asthma cannot take ibuprofen so it is always best to check with a pharmacist before giving your child medicine.2
You can speak to your pharmacist about over-the-counter medicines you can use to help ease your child’s blocked nose and cough.
If your child is aged 3 months or older and has a temperature of 39°C or more, contact your GP or 111.3
You should keep your child off school until they are feeling better (or have not had a temperature for 24 hours) to help stop the spread of infection.3
If you are worried about the health of your child, your GP or 111 are always there to help advise you on how best to look after your child.
Cold and flu usually gets better at home after a few days. But if your child develops any of these symptoms, call 999 immediately:
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- Common childhood illnesses and wellbeing. Accessed August 10, 2023. http://childhealthwestkent.nhs.uk/coughs.html
- Colds, coughs and ear infections in children. nhs.uk. Published December 7, 2020. Accessed August 10, 2023. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/health/colds-coughs-and-ear-infections-in-children/
- If your child has cold or flu symptoms. Accessed August 10, 2023. https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/lungs-and-airways/if-your-child-has-cold-or-flu-symptoms
- Influenza (seasonal). Accessed August 11, 2023. https://www.who.int/health-topics/influenza-seasonal
- Flu. nhs.uk. Published October 23, 2017. Accessed August 14, 2023. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/flu/
- High temperature (fever) in children. nhs.uk. Published October 24, 2017. Accessed September 13, 2023. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/fever-in-children/
Published: September 2023
Next review: September 2026
Reviewer: Mital Thakrar