Noob parent here. I have a 9-mo who's currently pretty stuffed up: snoring, a little wheezing, constantly runny nose etc. I'm not worried about long-term, since it seems to be "only" a cold. But when sleeping are there any hazards? To cut to the chase: can he die from lack of oxygen / inability to breathe?

Not to lead the question, but I'm guessing not, considering the human race has survived as long as it has, but I'm a noobie parent and everything is scary.

  • I don't know if colds increase SIDS risk, so can't answer. But some handy baby with a cold tips that worked for us: the children's vicks rub for sleeping (adult vicks said to be dangerous especially if right under nose; some people put it on baby's feet under socks); use saline spray to purge snot often; Tylenol; be on lookout for ear infection in week or so after the cold. Not supposed to use cold or cough medicines. Anyway good luck!
    – Havoc P
    Commented Apr 30, 2011 at 3:50
  • 2
    This site is the wrong place for medical advice. Call your kids doctor. Commented Apr 30, 2011 at 8:02
  • Symptoms like this suggest allergy not really a cold, if there are dark circles under the eyes you've got yet another allergy sign. As Lennart says, check with your pediatrician. If you are worried about sleep we used to put out kids in the crib slightly elevated so their head was inclined so their nose would not stuff up as much.
    – MichaelF
    Commented Apr 30, 2011 at 9:50
  • I appreciate the caution, and now realize I shouldn't be asking medically related questions here. Thanks for the comments.
    – Tom Auger
    Commented May 1, 2011 at 2:33
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    Per this meta discussion on the appropriateness of medical questions, this question is on-topic, though it could be worded better. Getting a kid through a cold is 100% within the realm of normal parental experience. However, the comment from @MichaelF is borderline, it gets a little too close to trying to remotely diagnose for my comfort, and also incorrect -- mild respiratory symptoms could be indicative of a dozen different things (including a cold). Assuming a cold in the absence of contradictory evidence is natural, since it's most likely.
    – HedgeMage
    Commented May 1, 2011 at 6:21

3 Answers 3


Plenty of babies have colds and survive just fine. :)

A stuffy nose doesn't prevent mouth breathing -- so put a humidifier in the room (the cold-water type) to prevent that irritating his throat, watch for fever, and he'll be fine.

"SIDS" is one of those medical terms like "idiopathic" that means, in layman's terms, "we don't know WTF just happened, let alone why". Unless there is new research of which I'm not aware, not even your doctor can tell you what will/won't cause SIDS.

  • Thanks for the answer. Looks like I got me a "mouth breather" :)
    – Tom Auger
    Commented May 1, 2011 at 2:33

Not a doctor, but based on my child's countless colds which landed him overnight in the hospital once and on oral and inhaled steroids twice (all before he turned 18 months old), I would definitely go see a doctor if you are concerned. (Turns out our son has cold-induced asthma aggravated by mold we found in our home.)

The congestion itself is uncomfortable, but kids will naturally breathe through their mouths if their nose is stuffed up. I highly recommend using saline drops (make at home or purchase) and using the Nose Frida -- a Swedish snot sucking product (http://www.nosefrida.com/). It sounds gross but it works better than the suction bulbs which can be too strong. For extreme cases, your doctor or the pediatric ward of the hospital has mechanical suction tubes which easily clear our noses for kids who can't blow their noses yet.

The wheezing is more worrisome. It means he has fluids in his lungs and may have trouble breathing. When our son was wheezing, he was still happy and chipper and we didn't really worry. Shortly after that thought, our doctor suggested we get to the hospital asap. So we learned the hard way that children having trouble breathing and aren't getting enough oxygen in their bloodstream work harder to breathe and lose a lot of energy and liquid by breathing hard through their mouths. Some bad signs to look for:

  • Breathing faster than normal constantly (depends on child, but getting over 35-40 bpm was worrisome to our doctor; my son is at about 28-30 when healthy)
  • No urine / few wet diapers over a day (getting dehydrated == very bad)
  • Retraction at the base of the neck below esophagus or below ribcage: if it looks indented as your child breathes, this means they are working really hard to breath. When healthy, there shouldn't be any hard sucking in that causes the retraction. (Check your own body out to see.)

Again, when in doubt, go to the doctor.

  • Thanks for the detailed response. Appreciate the 3 warning points. We went to the doctor yesterday and she really couldn't say whether it was a cold or allergies (is it just me or are doctors just unable to give you straight answers these days?), but she checked ENT and said there was nothing to be concerned about. Having said that, I have noticed that his diapers haven't been all that wet at night, so we'll make sure he gets a lot of water! Appreciate the tips.
    – Tom Auger
    Commented May 4, 2011 at 13:09

When in doubt visit a doctor. He will probably say its not a big problem while checking for lung/ear/throat infections.

About your 'human race has survived as long as it has'. Just think back of the billions of kids that died along the way.

  • Ouch. Now I'm sad.
    – Tom Auger
    Commented May 4, 2011 at 13:06

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