Your new baby is at home for the first time, and you have placed every possible safety precaution ever invented in her room.  Nevertheless, you still can’t help but go and check on her once every five minutes.  After all, your baby is a fragile being, and her physical wellbeing is a very delicate thing.  But try as you might, it is inevitable that your infant will experience respiratory infections, so let’s put the various symptoms into perspective and uncover some of the approaches to respiratory care.

Upper Respiratory Infections – Also Known As The Common Cold and The Flu

Symptoms of Upper Respiratory Infections include fever, cough, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, loss of appetite, body ache, and fatigue.  The resultant inflammation of the lining of the nose, throat, and sinuses produces mucus and makes breathing difficult.  An infant might even gag on the excessive mucus, or make a high-pitched wheezing sound while breathing.  And since newborns breathe exclusively through their noses, the cold symptoms will be difficult for them to handle.  If your infant has the flu, then she will also exhibit symptoms of upset stomach, nausea, body aches, and diarrhea.  But as frightening as these symptoms might seem, at-home treatment should be sufficient.  Try to treat an infant’s cold without medication, unless there is the presence of fever.  After all, cold medicines don’t actually cure colds, and infants are particularly sensitive to the side effects of cold medicines.   Your baby simply needs lots of rest and fluids.  You can also utilize a cool mist vaporizer or humidifier, saline nose drops, and a bulb syringe to enhance your baby’s respiratory ability.  But if your infant’s cough, flu symptoms, or fever will not subside, contact your pediatrician.


Croup generally causes inflammation to the larynx and trachea.  Croup is characterized by a deep, bark-like cough, hoarseness, and breathing difficulty that primarily exhibits itself upon inhaling, which may result in a harsh, high-pitched whistling sound.  Although the sounds coming from your baby may be alarming, croup is not always serious and does not always require professional medical care.  In most cases, at-home treatments also used for colds in infants should suffice.  However, if your baby’s symptoms persist or worsen, her doctor may prescribe a medication to open her constricted airways.   And if she is struggling to breathe, call your physician immediately, as upper airway obstruction may require intensive medical care under the supervision of a skilled respiratory therapist and doctor.


Prompt recognition and treatment of pneumonia is essential, as infant mortality is often linked to this illness.  The virus itself, an upper respiratory infection, or a weakened immune system can all cause pneumonia.  Pneumonia is an infection in the air sacs of the lungs, which interferes with the proper exchange of carbon dioxide. Symptoms of pneumonia include rapid breathing, fever, cough, loss of appetite, and lack of responsiveness.   Fortunately, in the majority of children, pneumonia is not serious and can be easily treated at home or with antibiotics.   However, hospitalization may be required for infants, as their immune systems are not fully developed.  If your child has a fever, difficulty breathing, is wheezing, turning blue, is not feeding well, or seems confused, get immediate medical care.


Bronchitis is an infection that attacks the bronchial tubes, and causes narrowing and swelling due to inflammation. Treatment for this condition can vary from none at all to the use of strong medications and other respiratory care treatments prescribed by a doctor for more severe symptoms.


Primarily occurring in infants, bronchiolitis is an inflammation of the smaller tubes of the branching network of bronchi. At first, your infant may appear to have a simple cold.  But as the illness takes hold, the child will develop a harsh cough, labored breathing, and wheezing.  Bronchiolitis may simply require attentive home care; however, if no improvement in condition is noticed, or the condition worsens, you may want to seek professional medical care.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

RSV causes infection of the lungs and breathing passages, and is highly contagious.  In most cases, RSV is quite mild and should require no professional treatment.  But in some in infants, an RSV infection may require hospitalization so that the baby can be observed, receive vital fluids, and receive proper respiratory care.   If your baby has a high fever, is irritable or inactive, appears ill or dehydrated, has a worsening cough, or has a cough that produces yellow, green or gray mucus, then seek medical attention.  If your child appears to be having trouble breathing, is breathing rapidly, or her lips or fingernails have a bluish tint, then call emergency medical personnel.


Sinusitis symptoms are similar to those of a common cold, except that sinusitis symptoms last longer than three weeks and cold medicines will have no positive effects.   When your infant acquires a respiratory infection, complications can arise, as the infant’s still-developing immune system cannot properly fight off illness.   And if this virus is left untreated, it can result in sinusitis.   If your baby’s cold symptoms have lasted longer than two weeks, a sinus infection may be present.  When the sinus lining becomes inflamed and swells, the resulting excessive mucus can cause choking, coughing, and nausea. Unfortunately, your infant will not be able to tell you that they are experiencing pressure and pain in an affected sinus area.   Treat sinusitis in much the same way as you would treat your baby’s cold, and to avoid any complications, try to begin treatment of sinusitis immediately. Self-care techniques are usually the only treatment needed. And to avoid the onset of sinusitis altogether, get early treatment for colds and allergies.


If the mucus in your infant’s runny nose is consistently clear in color, then she may be suffering from an allergy.  Visit your pediatrician to determine what is causing your baby to have such a reaction in order to prevent further discomfort and serious allergic reactions.  Allergies are not that common in babies, but if she is suffering, then you clearly want to have her undergo blood and skin tests to determine the culprit allergen.  Then, your doctor can come up with an effective treatment plan, and you can begin protecting your child from the harmful allergen.