Coping With Sick Kids Under 5 — Common Cold

IN THIS series of 5 articles, we explore the 5 most common illnesses among children below 5.

Dr Wong Chin Khoon, a Paediatrician from SBCC Baby and Child Clinic, a member of Healthway Medical Group, provides advice about symptoms, what to do, and when to seek medical attention.

This would be useful for parents of young children, or those who interact with them.

If you have any questions or specific queries about medical issues, please email and we will try and respond promptly.



Common Cold

This week, we explore one of the most common illnesses that plague both children and adults alike — the aptly named, Common Cold.

The Common Cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. It is easily spread via air droplets in crowded places or through close contact with an infected person.

Children in childcare centres are twice as likely to catch the virus, especially toddlers who have a habit of wiping their nasal secretions and touching others or coughing into each other’s faces.

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Signs and symptoms

  • Fever, cough, running or blocked nose and sore throat.
  • The child may eat or drink poorly and have difficulty sleeping due to a cough and blocked nose.

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What should you do?

Parents can do the following to help the child recover from a cold:

  • Dress the child in light clothing.
  • Let the child rest and not send him or her to preschool.
  • Manage the fever with medicine.
  • Maintain hydration by giving small frequent feedings of milk or oral rehydration solution.
  • Monitor the child’s temperature and if it remains over 39°C, it may be helpful to sponge him or her in a warm room with lukewarm water. Do not use ice or cold water.


How do you prevent the Common Cold?

Good and responsible hygiene practices can help to prevent the spread of viruses.

  • Both child and caregiver should frequently wash their hands with soap.
  • Teach the child to cover his or her mouth with tissue paper when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid sending the sick child to pre-school or childcare centre.


When should you seek medical attention?

It is advisable to seek medical attention if the child’s condition is as follows:

  • Has fever for more than 4-5 days.
  • Worsening cough.
  • Difficulty in sleeping, drinking milk or eating.
  • Has trouble breathing or noisy breathing.
  • Appears lethargic.

A Final Note from the Doctor

“Parents should note that antibiotics are prescribed only for the treatment of bacterial infections and not viral infections. The common cold is caused by viral infections and thus antibiotics will not help in its treatment.

“As this illness is contagious, it is advisable to identify it early, seek medical attention and take precautions to prevent it from spreading,” says Dr Wong.

PrintThe Healthy Way is a regular health series developed for STORM.SG by Healthway Medical. If you have specific queries, please do email us at and we will ask the panel of experts for their advice. Do note that only selected queries will be addressed.

Dr Wong Chin KhoonDr Wong Chin Khoon is a Paediatrician at SBCC Baby & Child Clinic, a member of Healthway Medical Group. He is also the Medical Director of the Paediatric Group of the Specialist Division of Healthway Medical Group. 

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