What Happens If a Baby Gets the Flu?
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What Happens If a Baby Gets the Flu?

Despite your best efforts to keep your baby away from the sneezy, sniffly and achy flu sufferers that are around you each flu season, he may still come down with the flu. While some babies get the flu and recover with ease, others experience complications. To ensure that a simple flu doesn’t escalate into something larger and more dangerous, you must respond promptly and appropriately to any signs of flu in your baby.

Signs of Flu

While babies can’t tell you that they are feeling under the weather like older children, they do often show tell-tale signs of flu if they develop the illness. These signs include: suffering a fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, excessive crankiness, dry cough and hesitancy to eat, reports WebMD.

Handling the Illness

When your child comes down with the flu, you will likely find that taking care of her becomes more difficult. Even though your baby will likely shy away from the bottle, it is important to force her to consume formula or other hydration increasing liquid, such as water or juice. If your child seems to be in excessive pain, ask your baby’s doctor for a fever reducer. In most cases, the doctor will tell you that you can give your child a children’s acetaminophen or ibuprofen to ease her pain and reduce her fever, according to the N.C. Women’s Hospital.

Potential Complications

Although babies can recover from the flu unscathed, they are also more prone developing complications as a result of their bout of flu as their immune systems are not as highly developed as those of older children. Babies are particularly susceptible to pneumonia, central nervous system infection, severe ear infection, dehydration and heart issues, reports WebMD. To decrease the likelihood that your baby suffers any of these complications, monitor his flu carefully.

When to Call the Doctor

In most cases, your baby will get over the flu without any medical intervention; however, there are some signs that can tell you that a trip to the doctor is in order. If your child is 3 months old or younger, she is particularly susceptible to complication, and you should call the doctor If his fever is greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, recommends the March of Dimes. If your child is between 3 and 6 months of age, you should call the doctor if his fever exceeds 101 degrees. For children 6 months to 18 months old, 103 is the magic degree at which a call to the doctor is in order. If at any time your child seems to struggle to consume food or stops eating for more than 12 hours, you should call the doctor or visit the emergency room immediately.


The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that parents have their children over 6 months old vaccinated against the flu. If you are pregnant, consider getting a flu vaccine, as this vaccine will pass on to your unborn child and protect him from the flu until he is old enough to get the vaccine for himself.

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