Colds and Influenza
The “common cold” is caused by a virus (germs) that can make us sick. Young children and babies haven’t built up immunity or defenses against all the different cold germs that are around, so they can get as many as 8-10 colds a year before they even turn 2 years old.1 Children can pass germs to each other by touching hands, sharing toys, and even through the air.
Some symptoms of colds include:
- Runny or stuffed-up nose and sneezing
- Mild sore throat
- Loss of appetite
- Fatigue, and
- Mild fever2
A cold will usually go away on its own, after about a week, but it can last as long as two weeks. Try to keep your child comfortable and offer lots of fluids as well as small, nutritious meals during this time.
The flu (also known as influenza) is a respiratory infection that is caused by a virus. People of any age can get influenza. Most people are sick for 2 to 7 days, although coughing may last for weeks. Influenza causes high fevers with a cough and body aches. It comes on faster and makes people feel worse than the common cold. Kids with colds usually still have enough energy to play and keep their normal daily routines, but children with the flu virus are usually in bed.3
Please contact your Health Care Provider if you have concerns.
Regular bowel movements vary from child to child. Some children go more than once a day, while others may go once every few days. Both are normal as long as the stool is soft and easy to pass.4
Signs of Constipation:
- Passing stool less often than normal
- Hard, dry, difficult or painful to pass
- Stool is unusually large for your child4
For more information, go to our own MLHU Fact Sheet: Bowel Habits for Babies & Children. Please contact your Health Care Provider if you have concerns.
Ear Infections (Otitis Media)
Ear infections are very common, especially in children 6 months – 3 years old. They often happen at the same time as a cold.
Here are some signs:
- Fever with unknown cause
- Fussy behaviour and/or difficulty sleeping
- Pulling or poking at ears
- Trouble hearing quiet sounds
- Drainage or discharge from the ear itself5
For more information, go to Canadian Pediatric Society- Ear infections. Please contact your Health Care Provider if you have concerns.
Vomiting, Diarrhea, & Dehydration
Dehydration is a loss of body fluids, which can happen if a sick child has vomited and/or had diarrhea several times. Dehydration can be very dangerous, especially for babies and small children. Sometimes healthy children have “spit-ups” or “loose” stools once in a while without being in any danger of getting dehydrated.
Signs of Dehydration:
- Less than 4 wet diapers in 24 hours with infants, and no urine for 8 hours in older kids
- Urine will be dark yellow, orange, or tea coloured
- Increased thirst
- Dry mouth, tongue, no tears when crying
- Decreased energy, lethargic, weak or limp, drowsy
- Sunken eyes or sunken soft spot on baby’s head (fontanelle)
- Grayish coloured skin6
For more information, go to Canadian Pediatric Society- Dehydration and diarrhea in children. Contact your Health Care Provider if you have concerns.
For more information about other common infections, please review the Health Unit's Guide to Common Infections (PDF 2.4MB).