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  • Post last modified:September 8, 2022
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A sick baby with a cold may refuse to eat or drink – and thereby risk dehydration. This situation is not uncommon. What can we do as parents? Read our doctor’s suggestion here.

sick baby not eating, baby has a cold


Mom’s Question:

My son is 4 months old and he has been sick for 5 days. Today he didn’t drink any milk and I can tell trying was bothering his throat.

I give him Pedialyte but I’m still worried. He has been sleeping all day and when he is up one minute he’s smiling then the next he is crying and it’s back to sleep for him.

What can I do to help him and how can I know if it is dangerous that he isn’t eating?


Sick Babies And Dehydration

How to Help a Baby With a Cold

It sounds like your baby is having a bad cold or other virus infection. If he has a cold, it will last about 7-14 days.

If he has a stuffy nose and/or a fever, he will not eat much. To help your baby with his stopped up nose, you can use saline nose drops. You make these by adding 0.5 teaspoons of table salt to 2 cups of boiled water. After the solution has come to room temperature, put one drop in each nostril then suck gently with the 1-ounce rubber syringe (suction bulb). Do this before each feeding and at bedtime to make it easier for the child to breathe.

Also, keep offering him fluids as much as possible. It is very important that he doesn’t get dehydrated. If he continues to refuse to drink and starts showing signs of dehydration (specified below), you need to take him to a doctor immediately.

To help his sore throat and fever, you can give him Baby Tylenol and see if it helps.

When to See a Doctor

If it seems to you like your baby is getting worse, not better, you should also take him to a doctor. If for example, the fever is getting higher, it might mean that he has a bacterial infection and needs antibiotics. With a cold that has already lasted for 5 days, he should soon be getting better.

Also, as mentioned above, if your baby is showing signs of dehydration, you need to take him to a doctor immediately. 


How can I tell if my baby is dehydrated?

  • More than six hours without a wet diaper.
  • Urine that looks darker than usual in his diaper and smells stronger than usual.
  • Lethargy
  • A dry, parched mouth and lips
  • No tears while crying if your baby usually does produce tears – not all babies do.

Signs that your baby is seriously dehydrated

  • Sunken eyes
  • Hands and feet that feel cold and look splotchy
  • Excessive sleepiness or fussiness
  • Sunken fontanels (the soft spots on your baby’s head)

I hope your little one feels better soon.
(Answer approved by our Medical Reference Team)

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  1. rajan

    my baby is 10 months old, and has less urination in summer. is it normal or abnormal? he used to urinate 6 or more in a day.