Solutions to Common Sicknesses in Newborns: Colds, Diarrhea, and fever

Baby feeling unwell

When newborn babies get sick it is much more serious than when older children and adults are sick. Newborns' immune systems—the system that fights diseases—infections, and viruses, are not strong enough to handle serious illness.

Common Sicknesses in Newborns


A baby with a cold will have a runny or stuffy nose and sometimes a fever. Colds will typically last about a week. Your baby might be fussy, sleepless, and not eating well. You can clean out the baby's nose with a rubber suction bulb to help them breathe a little easier. You can also sit with your baby in the bathroom with the hot water running to build up steam. The steam in the air will help clean out your baby's nose.


If your baby has a lot of watery bowel movements, keep breastfeeding. Don't give milk or formula. If the baby is older, stop giving him baby food, but don't stop for more than a day. 

Call the doctor if:
  • The baby is less than 3 months old and won't drink.
  • Diarrhea lasts longer than 1 day.
  • You see blood or mucus in the baby's diaper.
  • The baby has a fever higher than 38.8°C.


To find out if your baby has a fever, take his temperature rectally (in his bottom). Call the doctor if a baby under 3 months old has a rectal temperature over 38°C. If your baby is older and has a rectal temperature over 38.8°C, call the doctor.

In general, call your pediatrician immediately if your newborn:

  • Throws up a few times. Do not confuse this with "spitting up," which your baby might do after feeding or burping.
  • Has a fever higher than 38°C.
  • Has watery stools.
  • Doesn't want to eat for more than 2 or 3 feedings.
  • Hasn't weed for 6 to 8 hours or has less than 4 wet diapers in 24 hours.
  • Is usually active and happy but looks pale, grumpy, and doesn't have much energy.
  • Has any redness or pus (yellowish ooze) around the umbilical cord.
  • Has yellowish looking skin.
  • Doesn't react to loud noises.
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