Activate ReciteMe accessibility assistance Download this page Print this page

Coughs and Colds

Babies and children tend to get a lot of coughs and colds - around 8 a year! As they get older and their immune system gets stronger the number of coughs and colds will get less.

Colds and most coughs are caused by a virus. There is currently no treatment that a doctor can give you for this. Antibiotics do not work on viruses. Most colds last for 5-7 days – the cough can hang around for longer.

Coughs are often caused by secretions (snot) dripping down the back of the throat. Especially when they are not old enough to blow their nose well. You can sometimes hear this as a ‘snotty rattling’ noise in small children’s throats.

There is currently no treatment for a cold and your child will not need to see a doctor. It is hard to see your child feeling poorly and colds can make your child feel really miserable. 

Stop the germs spreading by making sure everyone is washing their hands well. Have lots of tissues and make sure dirty ones go straight in the bin. You can find out more about how to stop germs spreading *here*.

Take a look at the tabs below for more information.

  • Whilst a cold has to run its course, there are things you can do to help your child feel better;

    • Take time for cuddles. You might find your child wants you extra close for comfort.
    • Make sure that your child drinks plenty of fluids to keep hydrated. (Don’t worry if they don’t feel very hungry for a few days).
    • Warm baths and warm drinks can help stuffy noses and be relaxing before bed.
    • Give children’s paracetamol or ibuprofen. You can talk to your pharmacist about this – find a local pharmacist *here*.
    • Try saline nose drops or sprays to help your child breathe more easily – ask your pharmacist for details.
  • The coughs that can come with along with a cold can cause sleepless nights for all.

    • If your child is less than 1 try propping up the legs of the cot at the head end on a couple of big books – to help any irritating secretions drain away.
    • If your child is over 1 you can try an extra pillow to prop them up.
    • Have a drink close by.
    • Use Vaseline on sore noses and lips.

    If your child has a pre-existing condition, like asthma, keep giving any prescribed medication – If you are worried that their symptoms are getting worse call 111 for advice.

  • Call 111 for advice if your child has a;

    • High temperature (more than 38 degrees) that has not got better by giving paracetamol or ibuprofen as directed.
    • They are not drinking fluids and are not having wees/ wet nappies.
    • A low temperature (less than 35.5) and they seem quiet and / or unusually sleepy.
    • Are being sick after all feeds / drinks. 
    • You have a strong sense that your child is ‘too poorly’ for it to be ‘just’ a cough or cold.

    Most children bounce back from coughs and colds quite quickly. You know your child best if you are feeling worried than ask for advice from your pharmacy, 111 or GP.

Who Can Help?

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.

You can speak to other Norfolk parents and carers by clicking our online community forum below. 


Log In / Create an account

  • If you are working with any families who may need infant feeding support or want to ask the professionals a questio… NorfolkCYP / 20 April 2021
  • RT @ECFSNorfolk: Help your child explore the world around them this April with @NorfolkLearn’s great range of FREE online early years cours… NorfolkCYP / 14 April 2021
  • RT @ccs_nhst: Due to influx of bookings, there are no #Covid19vaccination walk-in appointments available this week at our Norfolk vaccinati… NorfolkCYP / 14 April 2021
  • RT @FISnorfolk: Ten Pieces Trailblazers challenges students to rethink orchestral music - what it sounds like, who can make it, and how it'… NorfolkCYP / 12 April 2021
  • RT @NorfolkCC: Today non-essential shops, libraries, gyms, hairdressers & other can reopen. 27 libraries will reopen & mobile libraries wi… NorfolkCYP / 12 April 2021
  • RT @LullabyTrust: A clear cot is a safer cot, so we advise that you remove any toys from your baby's cot or sleep space. Babies are at hig… NorfolkCYP / 12 April 2021
  • Your child might have mixed feelings about going back to school next week. Don't forget they can text #ChatHealth o… NorfolkCYP / 09 April 2021
  • A baby crying is a common trigger for parental depression, poor-parent child relationships and developmental concer… NorfolkCYP / 08 April 2021
  • RT @LullabyTrust: You should always place your baby on their back to sleep and not on their front or side. The best way to make sure your b… NorfolkCYP / 07 April 2021
  • Even whilst they are in the womb a baby can begin to build a bond with the people around them. Find out more here:… NorfolkCYP / 07 April 2021

Our Partners

Close the mobile menu