Flu In Babies

In this article

  • How can I tell if my baby has the flu and not just a cold?
  • What can I do to make him feel better?
  • When should I call the doctor?

How can I tell if my baby has the flu and not just a cold?

Sometimes it’s not easy. In babies, flu symptoms resemble those of other illnesses such as colds. That said, your baby is more likely to have the flu if he experiences the sudden onset of fever, typically 38 degrees C/101 degrees F or higher. Other symptoms of flu can include:

  • fatigue
  • chills
  • runny nose
  • dry cough
  • vomiting

If congestion or coughing shows up much before the fever, it’s more likely your child has a cold. He may also be irritable and have a poor appetite, sore throat, and swollen glands.

What can I do to make him feel better?

Babies simply need sleep and plenty of fluids. For an older baby who is eating some solid foods, soup may ease his congestion and also give him extra liquid.

For muscle aches and fever, give your baby acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Check the dosage information on the bottle, or ask your doctor or pharmacist if you’re unsure about how much to give your baby.

Your baby should start feeling better in three to five days – his fever will break first and then his appetite should return. Some babies (and older children and adults) may have the cough and flu-associated body aches for two weeks or more.

All babies older than six months can get the flu shot every year. This is especially important if your baby has an illness like asthma, was premature, or has ongoing health problems. If your baby is younger than six months at the start of the flu season, all family members should get the flu shot, to help your baby avoid coming in contact with the flu.

When should I call the doctor?

Call your baby’s doctor at the first sign of illness if your child is less than three months old.

In an older baby or toddler, call your doctor if:

  • his symptoms persist for more than five days
  • his temperature climbs above 39 degrees C
  • he has an earache, breathing problems, wheezing, a lingering cough, or persistent, thick green mucus running from his nose

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