25 answers

Why Won't My Baby's Cold Go Away?

My son is 10 months old and has had cold symptoms consistently since he started going to daycare at 3 months of age. His symptoms vary and come and go but I can not remember a single stretch of time longer than 1 week in which he was not sick at all. His symptoms (some occasional and some more frequent) include coughing (phlegm in chest), runny nose, stuffy nose, yellowish/green discharge from nose, and sneezing. I have tried every single cold/flu/allergy product on the shelves and nothing seems to really help much. I am a first-time mom struggling with the question "What am I doing wrong?" Infants cannot possibly be sick this often for this long of a period...and even after the cold/flu season is over! On one occasion I took him to the E.R. because I was so worried about him and they said he had an upper respiratory viral infection that just has to go away on its own. His pediatrician has said that maybe he has asthma and I've given him an inhaler for awhile but that hasn't helped either. Can someone PLEASE help me?!?!?

What can I do next?

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Have you considered a milk alergy? I was like that until my mom read an article about milk alergy and she cut out all dairy from my diet and I got better within the week and stayed better. It's a tough diet but not as bad as constant ear infections and runny noses. Good luck. ~V.

Sounds like allergies - not a cold... I was diagnosed at 6 months and at 36 still live with those symptoms almost everyday - asthma too....

Could me to environmental or foods - or a combination of both hard to say, but interesting that it started at the day care -

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well the first thing I would look at is the yellow/green discharge coming from baby's nose...this is a different situation than clear runny discharge coming out of the nose at the beginning of a cold which changes to the yellow/green discharge towards the end of the cold or flu. definitely take your baby back to the dr., and if you don't like what you are being told, seek out a second opinion.

I agree, it is helpful to cut out dairy whenever your baby has excess mucous or phlegm. It will also help if your baby has any diarrhea (cutting out dairy). Look at your son's diet, & consider consulting alternative health resources to help support you in getting him well. Two good books I use often with my son are "Healthy Healing" by Linda Page (a naturopathic dr.) and "Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child" by Zand, Rountree & Walton. They are reference books & list all sorts of illnesses & the various western (regular medicine, like your Pediatrician) as well as alternative health care treatments for those conditions. They have ideas on diet, medicine, herbs, bodywork, and anything else that can help. Healthy healing also has a great website you can check out first to get some ideas, www.healthyhealing.com

Is your son taking a multiviamin? My son loves to take a liquid vitamin I got from Raley's, it tastes like berries & seems to help boost his immunity & energy almost immediately. When my son has a cold (he is 2 now, but I started this when he was less than a year old), I also give him a very diluted dose of Airborne (the over the counter fizzy tablets that you dissolve in water, to help fight colds) or Emergen-C packets. Lots of juice (fresh is best), dilute 1/2 & 1/2 with water so he doesn't get too sugared-up. We use a vaporizer to help loosen phlegm (you can put a drop or two of peppermint or eucalyptus essential oil in the water), and on occasion use a nebulizer if he is wheezing. You can also use some Vicks Baby Rub (like Vapo-Rub, but for babies), rub it on his chest & belly, it is soothing & smells very gently like lavender & eucalyptus. When you give him a bath, try putting a little peppermint or eucalyptus essential oil in the bath (about 3 or 4 drops is plenty), stir the water around well before you put him in (this is if you use a full tub of water! if you are still using a baby tub, use only 1 drop.)

Can you take your son out of daycare? It sounds like this might be the root of the problem...even if you do so for just a few weeks, to see if he gets healthy, it might be worth considering...maybe look at what other childcare arrangements could be made, in the interest of his health...

Hope this helps, it is so frustrating to have a sick child!

2 moms found this helpful

Hi D.,

I have the same problem with my daughter who is now 19 months old. She always has a runny nose (sometimes green mucus), coughing (sometimes), and sneezing (most of the time). She's been going to her daycare since she was 3 months old and I also breastfed her until she was 11 months (I was told if I breastfed her she would rarely get sick). Now that she's gotten older it hasn't been as bad as it was when she was younger. I think my daughter's case is a much worse case than your son's. When my daughter was 10 months old I had to take her to the E.R. twice within a couple of weeks. The first time (she was in a place where there was a cat) I took her, the doctor she seen that day diagnosed her with pneumonia and prescribed her an inhaler and Antibiotics. The second time I had to take her (really not sure what triggered it, maybe smoke or dust) I used the inhaler before and it did not work. She wasn't diagnosed with anything. The doctor that seen her that day just asked if she had any brothers or sisters with asthma. When I took her to see her pedatrician he told me he would usually diagnose a patient with asthma after the 3rd trip to the E.R. He diagnosed my daughter with asthma with only 2 trips to the E.R. and he gave me a Nebulizer System (this is what the hospital used, the 2 times she went, to give her the breathing treatment) so I won't have to make anymore trips to the E.R. He prescribed her Albuterol for the Nebulizer. Albuterol was also prescribed to her for her inhaler but it didn't seem to work like the Nebulizer did. Since I've got the Nebulizer (it'll be a year in August) I've only had to use it once (thank God) because she was playing with my neighbors dog. Now I know she can't be around any animals with fur. :(

I'm not really sure but maybe your son just has allergies. My daughter's pedatrician gave me a magazine for things that can cause allergies and how to keep your house clean. You should dust your house and change the sheets on your son's bed often. My niece just has allergies not asthma and my sister has to dust and change her bed sheets every day. You should watch to see how your son reacts to animals with fur and when you dust your house make sure you use a damp cloth. I would also keep my daughter inside when we would get that windy weather. I know you said you tried every single product for allergies but have you tried Children's Dimetapp Cold/Allergy? I use that when my daughter gets a stuffy nose and it works for her. This medication relieves nasal congestion, sneezing, runny nose, and itchy watery eyes. I really hope this helps you out a little bit. Let me know how everything turns out.

Sounds like allergies - not a cold... I was diagnosed at 6 months and at 36 still live with those symptoms almost everyday - asthma too....

Could me to environmental or foods - or a combination of both hard to say, but interesting that it started at the day care -

D. - first, is your little one on breastmilk or formula? If it's formula, then he's going to be more susceptible to colds in daycare, but you are right - no baby should be sick that long. Forget the ER - have your pediatrician refer you to a pediatric ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) specialist. Someone who is skilled in dealing with the respiratory system. INSIST that your pediatrician do this - even if it does turn out to have a virus, it will ease your mind. If your little one is on breastmilk, have you tried putting a couple of drops of breastmilk, several times a day up his nose (like you would a nose spray?). Breastmilk can work wonders on an infection, but again, this sounds more intense then just a little cold, so see that specialist!

We were experiencing this with my daughter. We bought a air purifier and took her off of cow milk. We used zyrtec, an allergy med perscribed from the doctor and all the problems went away. Now she primarily drinks soy milk and we still use the air purifier every time she sleeps and we have not had anymore problems. Allergies can cause the same symptoms as a cold and can turn into infections. Maybe this can help your little one too.


Dear D.,

Maybe that is not a cold or flu, but allergy. I had to have my son tested for what he was allergic to, then had him on a very strick diet for about 18 months. It certainly helped him, and yes, the doctor made us keep him home quietly until his lung infection cleared up on its own. His body is probably reacting to something or some things that he is allergic to, and all the over the counter medicine in the world will not cure it. He has to live free of whatever he is allergic to and then his body will recuperate. Yes, this is true.

Sincerely, C. N.

Take him to his regular doctor. It could have started as a viral infection and turned into something else. My 6 mo old had a "virus" and I took him in and it turned out to be croup. They gave him a shot and we were out of there and he was better in less than a week. Be on the safe side.

My youngest is going through the same thing right now. He turned one yesterday and we have had this problem since he was born. We have done all of the over the counter things. We did the albuterol and pulmacort for asthma. We saw the ENT doc. and we were cleared from him too. I take jake to he ER every coupple of mo. because of my fear but they all tell me the same thing. his last bloor test showed a low platelet count but the doc. says it wasn't too low so we will re-run the test next week. For now, he wants us to see an allergy specialist. He says that they may be able to find out what is wrong with another blood test. Then if it is not an allergy, he said that they would better know what diseases if any to start looking for. (Sorry about my spelling) You might want to ask you doc. about seeing one. See what he says. Let me know what happens though. Maybe something that you do with your doc. could help us.
Take care,

Hey,Have you considered his diet???What sort of foods is he eating.A doctor will never tell you cus most of the time they don't know themselves but dairy, especailly from cow can cause a build up of mucous throughout a baby's and an adult's body. Soy will also do this.It can't hurt to put him on goat milk or dairy products that are derived only from goat for 2 to 3 weeks to see if it makes a difference.Also if he's eating anything with preservatives take that out too.Try to go as natural as possible.If he eats bread try to find a sprouted grain bread(Traider Joe's carries that).I know it may be more expensive but it can't be more expensive than doctor's visits and meds. Wild Oats carries goat yogourt and milk.If you have any more questions feel free to ask away.I have a 2 year old and he only eats goat cheese as far as cheeses and almond milk. Please really look into his diet,it could make all the difference.Good Luck.God Bless.H. Hornsby

Everybody here speaks of asthma medicine as if it is just another medicine, but it is NOT!. It seriously inhibits the immune system of your child, and that may be the cause of continuous sicknesses he has been having. An asthma medicine can not be given as a just in case medicine. It is especilly true for kids who go to day care. As the asthma medicine supresses their immune system they start to be sick all the time. Also over the long temr, those medicinces tend to retard the physical growth of children. The exact same thing happned to me, and i switched to a different pediatrician. My son is much healthier right now

Does anyone smoke? My son was sick, gosh, it had to be for almost a year. Same symptoms...coughing, congestion (especially at night). I had put him on all kinds of medication...asthma, cold, allergy and nothing seemed to help.

At the time I had a roomate who smoked in the garage and on the rare occation that she smoked in the house, it was in her own room. So, I never thought it would be the cause of his illness. No one ever smoked around my baby...well...smoke doesn't stay in one location!!!

It wasn't until we went our separate ways...and his "cold" improved that I finally realized it was from the smoke.

Check with the sitter. Does she smoke or anyone else in the family?? Even on weekends or at night when the children aren't in her care?

It is sooooo typical for your child to be sick and sick and sick and sick for a solid year. Both of my girls went through this. Esp. since he is in child care and around other kids (I assume). If you can see the cold progressing (you know, just like it does on you... sore throat, then runny nose, maybe a fever, then moves into his chest and he coughs for 2 weeks) and then the cycle will start again... He is probably just catching every germ that he comes in contact with. If one symptom won't go away, i.e. constant runny nose, then it may be allergies or some other condition. Before I had kids, my neighbor's second child was ALWAYS sick, because her brother brought stuff home from school, etc. We used to make fun of them and we called her "the Patient Zero" but now that we've seen it with our own, we get it. Once he builds up his immune system, he will be healthy and resilient. Things that worked for me...remove dairy products from his diet (this will help with the coughing thing and phlegm build up), we used soy formula and now she drinks soy milk instead of cows. and keep that vaporizer on while he sleeps, rub him with Vics, that kind of thing. This too shall pass.....

Hi D.,

I can relate to what you're going through. My son is 8 1/2 months old and has had a cold, off and on (mostly on), since the end of March. He has been in daycare since the beginning of March. I've taken him to the dr. twice and I was told pretty much the same thing. He picked up a virus that caused wheezing, but, they don't think he is asthmatic. I was told by many people that kids in daycare get sick all the time, but, I didn't think it was really ALL the time. It's very vexing. He has his regular 9mo. check-up on Monday so I'm going to ask more questions then.

I haven't given him any kind of medication because I was told not to. I have been using a cold air humidifier and taking him into the bathroom and let a hot shower run (steam bath) and that does seem to help some. I'm not sure if one is working and one isn't or if both are working, but, I try to do the shower thing in the morning and put on the humidifier for a couple of hours at night when he is asleep.

I'm starting to wonder if he is allergic to the milk-based formula. I have a friend who's son was very congested for several months and her dr. finally performed a blood test to see if he was allergic to dairy. It turned out he was. She has taken him off dairy (even though it's hard because she really wanted to give him whole milk for his first year) and he has gotten a lot better. I hesitate to self-diagnose because of the nutrition dairy offers, but, I'm going to ask about it when I see the pediatrcian on Monday.

I would try the humidifier and the steam bath in the meantime to see if that helps. It couldn't hurt, anyhow.

Kind regards,

daycare is a petri dish of germs! You don't say whether you have a pediatrician. If he has all of his shots, you should just know that this happens. His immune system is adjusting to all of the new germs. Just make sure that he doesn't have a temperature. This could mean pnuemonia. We went through that when our son wouldn't get better. His fever kept staying high, when we took him to the doctor, they said he had pnuemonia, and gave him antibiotics. You could also get a second opinion from another pediatrician. Yellow/green discharge from his nose means that he is contagious. When it is clear, he is not. Hope that helped.


Have you considered a milk alergy? I was like that until my mom read an article about milk alergy and she cut out all dairy from my diet and I got better within the week and stayed better. It's a tough diet but not as bad as constant ear infections and runny noses. Good luck. ~V.

My little guy has gone through the same thing. As long as your pediatrician is not overly concerned its just part of daycare. Kids are like little petrie dishes. They pick up everything. He will probably out grow it unless your doctor says there is another issue. get some infant vitamin drops. When he gets a little older there is ariborne for children. It was actually invented by a teacher. I would also talk to the daycare director. Look around, ask the teacher if many other kids are sick. Ask about their policy of cleaning the toys and equipment etc...

My son had a terrible winter this year. We were in the doctor's office once or twice a week for the very same thing. He first contracted Rotovirus and then immediately contracted RSV. We had him on a nebulizer treatment and his symptoms just did not seem to go away. I tried everything from OTC drugs to changing his diet but nothing seemed to work. The doctor finally put him on Singulair and Zyrtec. I have had no problems ever since. The air quality in Las Vegas is absolutely horrible and MANY allergens are being breathed in. I would consult your pediatrician about those 2 drugs to see if the symptoms are allergy related. My bet is they are. I know it is frustrating and I blamed myself on numerous occassions but I really think it is one of the casualties of living in such an international environment. Hang in there.


It is not unusual for a baby to be sick non-stop when they first start daycare. I had a private babysitter for my son until he was 2 and then I put him in a daycare center. He was sick non-stop for the first four months or so after he started at the center. After that he seemed to start developing an immunity to all the viruses the kids were passing around. My pediatrician said that this is unfortunately normal. Everyone has to be exposed to illnesses before they develop immunity and with babies, their immature immune systems make them vulnerable anyway. If you breastfeed, you share your immunity with your baby but if you don't, you babe is really unprotected and just that much more vulnerable. Breastfed babies still get sick but usually not as frequently and not as badly. Over the counter cold remedies don't do much. They certainly don't do anything to cure an illness. They can help treat the symptoms but I had the same experience you did - nothing worked very well other than tylenol or motrin. A cool mist humidifier or a vaporizor helps. Saline drops and a "booger sucker" can help. A warm bath can help.

In the meantime, you might want to look at a home daycare provider (preferably one without older kids who are in school) with a smaller number of kids to limit how many germs and viruses your baby is being exposed to. Or you can talk to your current daycare provider about their sanitary procedures. If they aren't sanitizing all of the toys at the daycare at least once a week, they should. They should also have really clear rules for the daycare workers on handwashing and cleanliness, as well as a clear sick-kid policy to limit everyone's exposure and the constant passing around of illnesses.

My best friend's daughter started daycare at 6 weeks old and she was entirely formula fed. She was sick basically non-stop for at least a year. She even got chicken pox when she was 8 weeks old. My friend eventually pulled her out of daycare and put her in a home daycare setting with just a couple of other kids and she did much better.

Good luck! I can imagine how frustrated you are with this and how miserable your son must be.


Definitely have that yellow discharge checked out. It is a sign of an infection, not a cold. If you have questions, you can check with an allergist. If you suspect an allergy, they can better determine if it is or not and since they are internists, as well, can treat it whether or not it is a cold. They usually have asthma treatments on site and can treat on the premises to see if his breathing gets better after the treatment or not.

As for a referral for your location. I have been seeing an allergist for 25 years. I see my allergist for dermatological problems because all of my skin problems end up being relatd to allergies.

Good luck!

I read your question and wanted to respond. This may or may not apply to you. i have been going thru this since my little boy was born. He is now 6 and i just went thru sinus surgery for him because his condition had gone too far. We use to feel the same way why our kid is not free of cold like symptoms. As much as i hate to say this, please have your doc send him to allergist. He has allergies and these days doc will do anything
to treat themselves and not refer them to specialist. He might have sinus trouble. please have ped pull an x-ray or preferrably a CT scan. YOur little boys symptoms matches to what my boy use to have. it has gone far to the point where he would have repeated sinus infection every month and a half since June last year. He was routinely prescribed oral steroids, antibiotics, different medications via neubalizers, nose sprays and what not. At the beginning of this yr, i fought with this doc to refer him to allergist and god bless the allergist---she is the first one to pull his CT scan and told me he has progessive sinusitis...again steroid boosters and antibiotic courses were given and condition seemed to worsen than improve...she didn't waste anytime and referred him to sinus institute in Palo alto....specialist @ the sinus institute gave one more try of steroid boosters and antibiotics etc. b4 going surgery route and eventually we ended up with surgery because his condition was progreesing and he was at the point no medication was helping as he was NOT treated properly to begin with by his ped (not to mention i changed his ped). I had gone thru so much stress, frustration and pain seeiing my kid suffer but thank god people like my allergist, dr. at sinus institute exist who are blessing to human kind. sorry for the Long response but it hurts me to see any other kid suffering and if my info helps to get your kid gets into good hands, i'll feel i was successful in saving other kid to go thru the same physical/mental torture. please let m eknow if you would like to know the names of dr's. it doesnot hurt to have him checked by speciaist.

My son is now 4 years old and never really had cold symptoms as an infant. I'm a SAHM and he wasn't exposed to many children during that time due to there not being many children where we lived at the time. He started daycare at 3 years old and immediately started having repeat sinus infections and allergic reactions on his face (redness & bumps). His pediatrician kept telling me that it was just a cold. We have since been referred to an allergist and he's tried Benedryl, Claritan and now has been prescribed Zyrtec on top of the antibiotics for the sinus infections. The allergist told us that they won't be able to officially know for sure what he's allergic to until he's 5 or 6 years of age.

Babies get sick in daycare because they are exposed to different germs all the time. if you had him at home he wold be exposed less often, but would still get sick several times a year because of exposures when you go to the store or what ever. The first year it seems like they are sick every week, but by the 2nd year tye build a better immune system and are sick less and by the third year it is a lot less, but still get regular colds.
He needs to be evaluated for asthma. if he has it then there are two types of meds. One taken long term to lessen the symptoms when he gets sick and one taken when he is sick to help him breathe. its not the kind of thing you try for a while and stop. You must take it very seriously. Have your dr write down exactly how he wants you to use the meds and follow his orders. the long term meds take a month or more to work, the shor quick acting one works in minutes but only lasts about 4 hrs. He will still have the cold sysmptoms to deal with, but he will be able to breathe
good luck

You may get alot of responses about how daycare children constantly get colds, and this is true, BUT maybe he has a food allergy. I know it sounds strange, but my good friend went through the SAME THING, at the SAME AGE. (actually two of my friends) They both cut out dairy and soy. The symptoms cleared up immediately. Most peds. just blow it off, but try cutting dairy and soy out of the diet and see what happens. It can't hurt right :) I hope this helps, and if not, just ignore it.

I'd take him back to the Pediatrician and have him look again. Tell him what you wrote here...the symptoms don't seem to go away at all. See if he can give you some other medication or a nebulizer to use with him. You might also see if he can refer you to a pediatric respiritory specialist who would have more expertise. Most doctors are very hesitant to diagnose asthma in an infant. My oldest son is 10 and started using a nebulizer at 4 months (he had constant bouts of croup when he was little which would turn into asthma like wheezing, got RSV just before he turned 2, also causing asthma like wheezing) and continued using it REGULARLY (until he was about 8) and he still wasn't officially diagnosed as "asthmatic" unitl he was 3.
Frequently doctors will call asthma-like symptoms in infants RAD (Reactive Airway Disorder/Disease) with the hope that as the child grows and their airway grows too, they will outgrow the problems. If they don't outgrow the RAD/asthma type symptoms by about 3 they will look at an actual diagnosis of asthma. And kids can outgrow asthma too, it's just usually when they are a bit older.
The other thing to remember if your sons problems are caused by asthma like inflamation you need to use the nebulizer/inhaler even when he doesn't seem sick. My son was doing so well that we took him of his maintanace medication and found ourselves at the ER twice within 2 weeks for horrible attacks. We now make sure he has his meds EVERY day, even when he doesn't seem to need them.
The other thing you might want to consider is that your son might have allergies...plant, animals, food...that could create those symptoms.
For his sake (and yours) I hope you figure it out soon. There is nothing worse than a sick baby! Good luck!

Wow, who frustrating! We have 2 boys; a 6. year old & a 2 year old. Because our older son was 4.5 when #2 came along & in school 5 days a week, our younger son had his 1st cold at just a fw weeks old. I expected this but, like you, I felt he had too many & took him to the dr. & got the the 'it's a cold & has to work out of his system.' Very frustrating when your 2 month is constantly 'plugged up!' The one thing I was told is that babies nasal passages are small & slower to develop which makes them congested more fruequently. But at 10 months, that shouldn't be an issue anymore for your son. I'd take him back to the dr. & explain his sysmptoms again & be very firm about wanting some kinda stronger medication. I'm sure he's misreable most of the time & cannot stand having his nose wiped. Good luck!

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