Baby Flu Symptoms

By Prev Info - February 28, 2022

Influenza is no fun for anyone. Unlike with older children, babies can't talk and describe how they're feeling, which leaves parents to decipher the baby's symptoms. The flu may seem easy to identify---most people associate the flu with fever and vomiting---but it's often confused with other viruses. The flu is caused by a contagious virus. While baby flu is common and usually runs its course with no major tolls on your child, it can be severe for some infants.


Flu symptoms and severity vary from person to person. General flu symptoms include lethargy, irritability, a lack of appetite, fatigue, vomiting, runny nose, congestion, cough, sore throat, body aches, chills, headache, diarrhea, weakness and  fever. Initially, your baby may seem more tired than usual and uninterested in usual play activities. You'll notice your baby is also uninterested in food, though some babies may nurse more in the beginning stages of the flu.


What may seem like a clear case of the flu can actually be a nasty cold. Influenza is not always easy to pinpoint. A mild bout of influenza has some of the same symptoms as a cold, other respiratory infections or even teething. If your baby experiences congestion or develops a cough before the presence of a fever, your baby most likely has a cold.


Newborn babies are at high risk of developing complications from influenza. Call your baby's health care provider immediately if your newborn contracts the flu. Additionally, call your baby's health care provider if your child is under 3 months old with a fever of 100.4 degrees F, is between 3 and 6 months old with a fever of 101 degrees F or is over 6 months old with a fever of 103 degrees F. Contact your pediatrician if your baby has trouble breathing, seems dehydrated (check for wet diapers) or has a cough lasting over a week. You don't want flu to develop into pneumonia, which can be severe for babies.


There are many precautions you can take to protect your baby from the flu. Wash your baby's hands often with a washcloth, soap and warm water, especially after going to a playgroup or another gathering involving other small children. Keep your baby away from anyone who is sick.

Another option is to give your baby an annual influenza vaccine starting at 6 months of age. Be aware that while none of these methods completely protect your infant from getting the flu, the chances of him getting the virus will be significantly decreased.

To treat the flu, make sure your baby gets plenty of rest and nurse or bottlefeed often to prevent dehydration. Ask your pediatrician about giving your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen to ease discomfort.

Time Frame

Influenza is most rampant from October to February---the notorious "flu season." Typically, your baby's symptoms will alleviate in 5 days, though a cough can last for up to 2 weeks.





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