Symptom Guide: Sore throat
Decipher the possible causes of your baby’s sore throat and know what to do


What it could be

What to do

Sore throat, coughing, slight fever, runny nose with mucus that may turn grey, green or yellow in time. Slight fever, nasal congestion, sneezing.

There are more than 200 viruses that cause the common cold. Cold air and indoor heating dries out nasal passages, making it easier for viruses to thrive. If cold symptoms worsen and there is a higher fever with diarrhoea, vomiting, chills and lack of appetite, it could be the flu.

Coughing and congestion before the onset of any fever signals a cold. Whether a cold or flu, check with your doctor for appropriate medications. Ensure your baby gets rest and is kept well hydrated. If fever persists for more than three days see a doctor. 

Sore throat causing difficulty swallowing and as a result refusing to eat. Also white patches on tongue, gums, roof and sides of the mouth. Can be painful, causing your baby to cry when nursing or sucking on a bottle or dummy.

Thrush is a yeast infection common in babies 2 months and younger. Your baby may experience hormonal changes after birth that trigger thrush. Taking antibiotics during breastfeeding kills off the good bacteria that keep yeast levels in check. Thrush can be passed on from mother to baby and vice versa during breastfeeding.

Thrush usually clears up on its own in a couple of weeks. If your baby is very uncomfortable, a doctor may prescribe an oral fungal medication that you apply over the white patches in the mouth. You may need to apply the medication to your nipples to prevent the infection spreading back and forth.

Sore throat with small red blisters inside the mouth or on the lips, high fever, drooling, bleeding gums, not eating or drinking, bad breath and dehydration.

Gingivostomatitis is a viral condition affecting the mouth and is common in children. It can be mild to severe. The virus that causes the condition is carried around in most people. In fact, Gingivostomatitis may be associated with the herpes simplex virus type 1, which can cause cold sores.

Usually goes away in a week or two. See your doctor urgently if your baby is dehydrated, ie hasn’t had a wet nappy in six hours. Offer soft foods to eat that don’t need chewing because of your baby’s sore mouth. Ask your doctor for pain relief medication.

Sore throat, loss of appetite, mild fever and blister sores in the mouth, on palms, soles of feet and buttocks. Mainly affects pre-schoolers.

Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a viral disease that can strike at any age. It is highly contagious spread via nose and throat secretions, fluid in the blisters and the stool. It is usually a mild illness.

See a doctor if your baby is dehydrated as mouth sores make it difficult for your baby to take in liquids. Monitor your baby’s fever, practise strict hygiene to prevent germs spreading and make sure he gets plenty of liquids. Ask your doctor for pain relief medication.

Severe sore throat, fever, drooling, chills, difficulty breathing and swallowing.

Epiglottitis is a bacterial infection of the epiglottis – the leaf-shaped cartilage covering the voice box. The infection causes such swelling of the tissues that it can block your baby’s airway.

Epiglottitis is rare and easily prevented by ensuring your baby has the Hib vaccine. If at any point your baby has trouble breathing seek medical attention immediately.

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