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Infant Colds

Dr. Christine Wood, M.D


Q. My 3 month-old daughter has been congested for about 10 days now. She finally developed a cold yesterday, and the congestion has gotten worse. She is having difficulty sleeping at night because her "snurgles" wake her up. I've consulted our pediatrician, who recommended elevating her head, running a humidifier, using a bulb syringe, and instilling saline drops in her nostrils. We've been doing all of these things for about a week, and the congestion only gets worse. My pediatrician does not recommend the use of an over-the-counter cold medication, but I can't help but think that a decongestant would be beneficial. What do you think?

A. I follow the same guidelines as your pediatrician. Most colds do take 10 to 14 days to run their course. Yes, you can use a over-the-counter decongestant, but I rarely find they help much and some babies get "hyper" and restless on the medications. It can cause them to sleep poorly. As far as the cold, warnings would be if the baby gets a fever, gets more irritable or unconsolable, has a significant decrease in formula intake or seems to be having poor breastfeeding (risk of getting dehydrated), or has a bad cough or difficulty breathing. If the cold really seems alot worse after 14 days it may be worth having the baby rechecked. Occasionally, a secondary infection in the ears or chest may develop, even though the baby was fine earlier. Another sign of an ear infection is that the baby may be up a lot at night, very fussy and hard to console.

Christine Wood, MD

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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.

Christine is also the cofounder of Call Your a website designed to give concerned parents with non-emergency medical questions, solid, no-nonsense information that can give them information in deciding when to call the doctor and some home treatment advice. You can visit her website at

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