A newborn can catch a cold shortly after birth when exposed to any one of the 200 viruses that are known to cause the common cold. DrGreene.com suggests that most kids have 8 to 10 colds by the time their second birthday arrives. Rarely will a health care professional approve the use of any medications for a cold in a newborn. Instead, home remedies and other methods of improving an infant's comfort are used.
Contracting a virus, even one that is mild, can be harder on or longer lasting for newborns due to the immaturity of their immune system. Colds affect the respiratory system and impact breathing. While an adult or older child may be able to fight off the cold without any intervention, a newborn may need home remedies to allow her to breathe more easily so she can eat and sleep.
The common cold causes a runny nose, coughing, congestion, sneezing, vomiting, diarrhea and a fever between 100 and 102 degrees F, states DrGreene.com. A number of home remedies and natural techniques can improve these cold symptoms that are inhibiting the infant's basic functioning.
Home Remedy Options
Infant saline spray or nasal drops are considered safe and effective in helping thin the mucus in an infant's nasal passages. The saline drops can be made at home by mixing 1 tsp. of salt with 1/2 cup of warm water. The water should be cooled completely before using in an infant's nose. A small dropper can effectively place the solution into the infant's nose. The nose should be suctioned before and during a feeding with a bulb syringe if the baby is struggling to breathe while suckling.
A cool mist humidifier can be run wherever the infant is in order to improve the moisture in the air. The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests the use of essential oils like eucalyptus to improve congestion. Essential oils should not be used directly on a newborn without the advice of a health care professional but they can be added to humidifiers or a running shower to produce healing vapors.
An infant with a cold may become more irritable than usual. She may eat or sleep poorly. As the cold progresses the baby will develop a runny nose with discharges that range in color from clear to green or yellow, according to DrGreene.com. BabyCenter.com warns against using a pillow to prop the baby's head to allow mucus to drain, but recommends instead that caregivers should put the pillow under the infant's mattress or elevate the crib by putting books under the legs.
No over-the-counter cold medicine should be used in children under the age of two, states DrGreene.com. Some products are marketed as infant medications, including cough syrups, decongestants and chest rubs. Topically applied chest rubs should only be used after consulting a health care professional.
A fever in a newborn should be monitored closely. Some health care professionals consider a temperature over 100.4 degrees F in a newborn an urgent matter, notes FamilyDoctor.org. Caregivers can undress or lightly dress the baby, sponge him off with lukewarm water and offer plenty of fluids to fight the fever. When necessary, a health care professional may advise a caregiver how to administer the right amount of fever-reducing medication to the newborn.