Activate ReciteMe accessibility assistance Print this page

Coughs and Colds

Babies and children often 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. Most colds last for 5-7 days – but 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.

It is hard to see your child feeling poorly and colds can make your child feel really miserable, but there is currently no treatment for a cold. Antibiotics don't work on viruses like colds, and your child will not need to see a doctor.

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. 

The Lullaby Trust - Baby Check App - This app has simple checks that you can do if your baby is ill and helps you think about whether they need to see a doctor or health professional.


Log In / Create an account

  • ☎️ ☎️ ☎️ Don't forget Just One Number is open this morning from 9am - 1pm. If you've got a worry about your child's… NorfolkCYP / 31 July 2021
  • RT @LullabyTrust: If you're staying with family or friends this summer, you might find it useful to remind them of the ABCs of safer sleep.… NorfolkCYP / 29 July 2021
  • RT @FISnorfolk: Norfolk County Council and their partners have put together an information session for professionals working with children… NorfolkCYP / 29 July 2021
  • RT @NandW_LMNS: NorfolkCYP / 28 July 2021
  • RT @NandW_LMNS: May birth stats for @NNUH, thank you to @MvpNorwich for your hard work! NorfolkCYP / 28 July 2021
  • RT @NandW_LMNS: Norfolk and Waveney LMNS Multilingual maternity resources - This padlet contains a range of pregnancy information, includi… NorfolkCYP / 28 July 2021
  • If you have any worries about your child's health, development, behaviour, sleep, diet or wellbeing, you can text P… NorfolkCYP / 27 July 2021
  • RT @NNUH: We'd like to wish all our staff, patients and visitors a happy Norfolk Day. The Norfolk flag is looking splendid at the top of NN… NorfolkCYP / 27 July 2021
  • ⭐ There's lots of great reasons to exercise during pregnancy. Find out more here: #J1NPE ⭐ NorfolkCYP / 27 July 2021
  • Join our online drop in session this morning, your chance for a 1:1 video call with one of our clinicians, a chance… NorfolkCYP / 27 July 2021

Our Partners

Close the mobile menu