The 4 very distinct phases of your toddler's first cold.

Thanks to our brand partner, Panadol

There’s nothing quite like your toddler’s first cold. 

There you are, coasting along, riding high on the ‘we’ve got this parenting thing sorted’ wave. 

The newborn phase is behind you. Routines have fallen into place. 

Your little person knows who you are and can be happily placated with fresh fruit masquerading as ‘dessert.’

Life is sweet. 

Inevitably, this is when their first ever cold will hit because #karma. And, like that first time your child finds that tender skin underneath your arm and pinches it with their tiny, pincer-like fingers, the experience will be shocking, confusing and at times, painful. 

Here are the four distinct phases of your toddler’s first cold. Because knowing what’s coming is the only real way to survive.

1. Denial

If there's one thing I know to be true about parents, it's that a child’s first cold will come with a healthy dose of denial.

Because nobody wants a sick child. You’ll likely blame the weather, or something they ate. Allergies that they’ve never shown any indication of having before. Anything but actual sickness. 

These delusions that they might actually have their first cold will be expelled very quickly, generally after they’ve sneezed into your mouth for the third time, and you begrudgingly admit that something is going on with their immune system.

2. Panic

What do we do? Is it a cold? A virus from daycare? Some kind of germ that 2022 is releasing because we haven't suffered enough?


In all seriousness, your child’s first cold can be a scary experience. 

Even as a parent of three, I still experience the ‘what if?’ flutters when my kids become unwell. 

The important thing to remember is that the common cold is very... well, common in toddlers and will generally be a short-lived experience. 

I have always believed in ensuring that we are well prepared for the inevitable because there is nothing worse than realising that your child is sick and that you’re woefully under-prepared (this usually happens at 2am when all the pharmacies and shops are closed). 

In the name of being prepared, I always have Children’s Panadol on hand for when fever strikes. 

Keeping a bottle of the Children's Panadol Colourfree Suspension 1-5 years in the strawberry flavour (though orange also gets the thumbs up) and a pack of Panadol Chewable Tablets keeps all bases covered for our kids over three and their various preferences for medicine versus tablets, and means that pain relief is but a dose away. 

And remember, if you have concerns about your child and their symptoms, always talk to a medical professional. It’s always better to be overcautious and have your concerns addressed than ignore them and let the stress or sickness build.

3. Self-incrimination

Having a sick child is hugely unpleasant. 

Because when your little one is unwell, it isn’t just them who is impacted, but the whole family. Sleep is at a minimum while emotions (and emotional outbreaks) are at an all-time high. 

It’s an exhausting, snot-filled festival of fun and it’s hard not to feel some level of frustration. 

You’ll also likely blame yourself. Sure, you stopped them from licking the trolley bars the other day but what about that muesli bar they swooped on, seagull style, at the playground and had in their mouth before you could yell “THAT ISN’T YOURS”.

Then there was the fish finger and corn dinner the night before last which really could have been more nutrient and vitamin C dense. 

Blaming yourself for everything is almost a cornerstone of new parenthood but I’m here to tell you to cut yourself some slack and remember that snotty noses are kind of a childhood rite of passage. 

They happen and, short of encasing your child in a transparent bubble when you’re out of the house then bathing them in sanitiser upon their return, are hard to avoid. 

Don’t blame yourself for something that happens to the best of us.


4. Acceptance

There comes a time in your child’s first cold where you accept your fate. 

Yes, you’ll still be spraying surfaces with disinfectant spray and hand washing like a demon to try and  stop their snotty germs spreading, but you’ll have come to a reluctant peace with the fact that the cold is here to stay and there isn’t much you can do about it. 

Keeping your little one comfortable and well hydrated with lots of snuggles, water and doses of Children’s Panadol to keep symptoms at bay will make the days a little easier. 

Now is not the time to try and do it all. 

You’ll be tired, your partner will be tired, and your child will be tired (and likely using your clothing as a tissue). 

Surrender to the experience and focus on survival. Outsource where you can. Sleep when it’s possible. Invest in a good vaporiser and nasal aspirator to help clear congestion and make breathing, eating, and sleeping a little easier. 

Drink all the coffee. And remember that you’ll soon be out the other side with a greater appreciation for your little one and their health. 

Panadol always has your family's back. Give your child pain relief fast with Children's Panadol. Find the whole Panadol range at your local pharmacy.

Always read the label and follow the directions for use. Seek medical advice for children under 3 months. Incorrect use could be harmful.

Feature Image: Supplied/Mamamia.

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