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Q&A: Does My Baby Have a Cold or Allergies?

Dr. Christine Wood, M.D


My son is 16 1/2 months old and he always seems to have a cold, and he is always sticking his thumb in his eyes and scratching them. I'm afraid that he will scratch his eye. I have allergies and I have the same symptoms as he does. He gets this (stringy, goopy) stuff in his eyes and it just swims around his eyeball. I usually have to work it out with my finger (without touching his eye). I have asked my doctor about allergies, and he says that the tests aren't really conclusive until around the age of 3 years old. I have heard of other babies (my sons age) that have been diagnosed with allergies. I don't know what to do or what to give him to comfort him.

There are probably a few things you can do to see if you can decrease his symptoms. First, I would cut out all dairy in his diet. Many children with allergies are allergic to dairy. You can substitute rice milk, but at his age, you will need to offer some other source of fat. I like flaxseed oil, because it contains the "good" fats (1/2tsp a day for his age mixed with applesauce or some other smooth food would be good).

If you have pets, definitely keep them out of his bedroom, or consider getting rid of them if you suspect he is worse around them.

Dust and vacuum, and reduce stuffed animals in his room. Dust is a common allergen for most people with allergies.

See if these things help his chronic stuffy nose and eyes.

Also, make sure with your pediatrician that he doesn't have a blocked tear duct, which is a cause for chronic goopy eye (usually on just one eye, but rarely I have seen a baby with both eyes). If he has had goopy eyes since birth alot, he may have this, and will most likely need to see a pediatric ophthalmologist to talk about probing them open.

If it appears to be allergic related and is itchy, and only occasionally goopy, apply cool compresses to the eyes or you can try some over-the-counter allergy eye drops (Bausch and Lomb has some allergy drops). There are stronger presciption drops for this problem available too.

A lot of this information is available in my book ( I have chapter on how to combat allergies nutritionally) How to Get Kids to Eat Great and Love It! (available on

Good Luck.

Christine Wood, MD

Dr. Christine Wood is a practicing pediatrician in Southern California. She attended the University of Detroit for her undergraduate degree in chemistry and received her medical degree from the University of Michigan. She completed her pediatric residency at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. She was Chief Resident there and then worked in the emergency room at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. After three years doing pediatric emergency room medicine she went into private practice. She received her lactation educator certification from the University of California, San Diego. She is the author of "How to Get Kids to Eat Great and Love It," a book that addresses the issues of why and how to feed kids healthy. The book also covers information about environmental threats and the role of nutritional supplementation for children. She lives in Southern California with her husband and son.

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