Babies Catching a Cold

Dr. Alan Greene answers the question, Why is she sick, and how should we care for her?


My baby is 3-1/2 months old and has a cold. We think it was due to exposure to cold weather because we had to go out in the snow just two or three days before she got it. The doctor told us that it's a virus and we can bathe her, take her out, or do whatever we want. Will bathing her when she's having cold aggravate the condition, and was her cold caused by exposure to cold weather?


Doctors usually say that colds are caused by viruses and not by exposure to the cold, and parents often believe the other is true. To a certain extent, I think both are right. We've learned a lot from the experience of scientists stationed in McMurdo Station in Antarctica. There, they are very very cold and catch no colds at all... unless someone with a cold arrives. Then it spreads very quickly.

Exposure to cold weather changes the way that our bodies fight off viruses. The protective mucus and cilia in the respiratory tract do not function as well. So if you get exposed to a virus in those conditions you're more likely to catch it. Breathing cold air seems to be the toughest on the system.

Bathing your baby is okay, as long as she doesn't get too chilled.

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The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.

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