Did you know it’s normal for our little ones to get around 10 viral colds a year?

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Spotting a runny nose can often strike the fear of god into a parent. “Here we go again,” we think as we scramble for a tissue. “Didn’t he just get over his last cold?” 🤧

Ask any parent what their toughest challenge is and they’ll probably confess it’s dealing with the never-ending onslaught of illnesses. It can sometimes feel like you can’t make it a single week through work without having to tend to a sick child. And when one little speed bump arises in your carefully constructed tapestry of family life, the whole tower can come crashing down. 

With the cold winter months officially here, we reveal some interesting facts about just how normal it is for your child to catch around 10 colds per year, what to look out for in colds, and how best to treat them. 

How many viruses do children get per year?

As holistic paediatrician Dr Deb Levy tells us, “It’s normal for young children to get around 10 viral colds a year. Yes, 10!” So while it’s tough, if your child is getting sick over and over, just know that it’s all part of the process. 

Meanwhile, for babies, it’s not unusual for them to have up to 8 colds in their first two years of life. 

While we let you pick your jaw off the floor, don’t panic just yet because we have some good news to tell you: this is totally normal, especially if your little one is starting daycare or preschool for the first time. It’s important to remember their immune system hasn’t been exposed to that many germs yet so not only will they be coming home with adorable finger paintings for you, but they’ll also have a whole host of viral colds to boot.

As your child settles into daycare, or even before they start, it can feel like they’re constantly sick. But fear not! Because as they get older and the stronger their immune system becomes, the frequency of these viral colds dies down. 

How are viral illnesses spread?

“Children catch colds through contact with someone else who has it. It’s spread by droplets (coughing and sneezing) and by direct contact. This is why you should never kiss a baby as it’s easily transmissible through kissing,” Dr Deb explains. 

Like with all illnesses, practice good hygiene at all times to try and stop the spread. Wash your child’s toys often as germs can linger on them, wash your hands, sneeze into your elbow, throw away your tissues, and when possible, keep sick children away from other kids. 

How do I treat my child’s cold?

“As with the majority of viruses, there’s no specific cure and antibiotics will not help. Often it’s just time and supporting them through that period,” Dr Deb advises. 

Cold symptoms 

  • ​​Blocked or runny nose
  • Mucus may be runny and clear or thick and yellow-green
  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Fussiness or unsettled
  • Loss of appetite
  • Trouble sleeping 

If your baby is under three months, you should check in with your doctor or healthcare provider, especially if they have a fever. 

If your child also has vomiting, diarrhoea, chills, sweats, or a rash (or headache, sore throat, and muscle aches — although babies won’t be able to tell you these things), they may have the flu or something more serious like pneumonia or croup and you should take them to the doctor.

Thankfully though, most common colds aren’t serious and should pass with little treatment within a few days to a week.

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