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Public Health news: Looking after your baby this winter

September 2021

Looking after your baby this winter

Due to Covid 19 last winter and the Hands, Face, Space guidance many of our babies and young children were not exposed to the 'usual' winter viruses. This winter Paediatricians are expecting an increase in babies who may suffer with Respiratory Synctial Virus (RSV) which can cause Bronchiolitis.

This virus 'floats' in the air and causes swelling in the small airways of babies and young children. We can help prevent this by washing our hands regularly, covering our mouths when coughing/sneezing, keeping our distance and have good ventilation in our homes.


  • Do not smoke indoors (7steps outside the home)
  • Most babies will get 6-8 coughs in their first year of life - this matures their immune system
  • Antibiotics don't work for viruses
  • Your baby may want to feed smaller amounts more often

Seek Medical help if your child has any of the following:

  • Becomes pale, mottled and feels abnormally cold to touch
  • Has pauses in their breathing lasting more than 10 seconds, makes a grunting noise every time they breath out or is going blue around the lips
  • Is stiff or rigid or makes repeated, jerky movements of arms or legs that doesn't stop when you hold them (a fit or seizure)
  • Becomes extremely agitated (crying inconsolably despite distraction), confused or very lethargic (difficult to wake)
  • Develops a rash that does not disappear with pressure (the 'Glass Test')
  • Is under 3 months of age with a temperature of 38°C / 100.4°F or above (unless fever in the 48 hours following vaccinations and no other red or amber features)

Contact your GP if your child has any of the following:

  • Difficulty breathing, including breathing fast all of the time; widening their nostrils or pulling in of the muscles below the ribs when breathing
  • Not interested in feeding and/or looks dehydrated (dry mouth, sunken eyes, no tears, drowsy, no wet nappies in the last 8 hours or sunken fontanelle (soft spot on the head)
  • Is becoming drowsy (excessively sleepy) or irritable (unable to settle them with toys, TV, food or picking up) - especially if they remain drowsy or irritable despite their fever coming down
  • Is getting worse or if you are worried

In the absence of the above features, it is normal for a baby to take slight pauses in their breathing for a few seconds or to breathe rapidly for a short period. By 6 weeks of age they should have a more regular breathing pattern.

Useful links for more information

NHS Child Health Apps

NHS - Looking after a sick child

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