How to tell if your baby has a sore throat

How to tell if your baby has a sore throat

When your baby is feeling a little under the weather, it can be difficult to know exactly what’s wrong as they aren’t able to tell you vocally. Instead, they might try to express themselves through being irritable, not sleeping or crying. Whether they’re teething, their tummy is hurting or they have a sore throat, it can sometimes be difficult to determine the problem. When this is the case, how do you know if they have a sore throat and what can you give them to soothe it?

Can babies have a sore throat?

It is definitely possible for babies and young children to have a sore throat. The most likely cause of a sore throat in children under three years of age is the common cold. This viral infection can cause nasal problems, usually in the form of a stuffy or runny nose, as well as a sore throat and is relatively common to very young children as their immune system is still maturing. It’s considered normal for children to catch as many as eight colds a year because of this[1].

You can usually tell if your infant has a cold as they may have a fever or a runny nose. Other symptoms may include sneezing, coughing, loss of appetite or difficulty sleeping. Tonsillitis is another cause of sore throats in young children and is a viral infection like a cold, however it isn’t as common. Instead of looking out for symptoms such as a runny nose, you should check to see if your baby is struggling to swallow, is drooling more than normal or has a scratchy-sounding cry[1].

Does my baby have a sore throat?

Your baby won’t be able to tell you if they have a sore throat, so what are the signs to look out for? Well, the first thing to check for is visible swelling. This could be swollen glands or swelling of the tonsils and the back of the throat. It can be difficult to see into your baby’s mouth, so feel their glands around their neck first. You may also notice if they are having difficulty swallowing. This is generally recognisable by excessive drooling[1].

What to do if your baby has a sore throat

If your baby is showing signs of some of the above, there are a few things that you could try to soothe their sore throat. The most important thing is to ensure they’re getting enough fluids.

You should make sure that they’re getting the correct intake of milk and that they’re not drinking less than normal. If they’re not feeding properly or wetting as many nappies as usual, this could be a sign that they’re dehydrated. You should seek professional medical advice if this is the case.

However, it’s not just dehydration that could make a sore throat worse but also a dry environment. A humidifier might help to add moisture to a room and could ease the effects of a sore throat. The humidifier should be kept well out of reach of the baby so that they can’t touch it but can feel its effect.

You should clean the humidifier as per the manufacturer’s instructions to prevent mould or bacteria growing. Alternatively, you could place a damp towel on a warm (not hot) radiator and this will also help to add moisture to a room. Generally, children over the age of four are able to suck on sweets and those over the age of 12 can be given throat lozenges that contain anaesthetic. Both of these could relieve the pain of a sore throat[1]. They should be monitored at all times while ingesting such items. However, it’s important to note that these should not be given to children under the age of four as they are a choking hazard and can be dangerous.