Children's Health

Winter Illnesses and Your Toddler

Little girl outside in cold weather wearing a hat and jacket

The days are short. The weather is cold. And your little one has more sniffles than usual. Yes, the winter months can be dreary for a few reasons, but healthy habits can help enhance your child’s wellness as you wait for spring to arrive.

Common Conditions You May Encounter

During the winter, your toddler is likely to experience some type of respiratory virus. These may include:

  • Bronchiolitis — This condition is frequently seen in toddlers during cold and flu season and is typically caused by a virus. Wheezing is a common symptom of bronchiolitis, but most toddlers typically do not require treatments, such as steroids, for this condition.
  • Common cold — This virus that affects the upper respiratory tract often affects younger children several times a year. Symptoms include sore throat, cough and a runny nose.
  • Influenza — Children younger than age 5 are in the high-risk category for flu-related complications. The virus is particularly dangerous if your child is younger than age 2. To reduce your toddler’s risk of contracting the flu, be sure to schedule an annual flu shot.
  • Strep throat — Although this condition is not as common in toddlers as it is in older children, strep throat is still an infection that your child may experience during the winter, especially if he is around older kids or in group childcare.

Honoring ENT Awareness Month

While most of these seasonal health concerns can be harmless, recognizing warning signs of more serious cases of illness is important, especially when your child is a toddler. During the month of February, which is the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Kids ENT Health Month, take time to speak with your child’s pediatrician about symptoms that may indicate your child needs professional medical attention to treat her respiratory illness. The warning signs include chest pain, high fever and rapid breathing.

February is also a good time to practice healthy habits with your family that help decrease the risk of contracting a winter illness. These may include:

  • Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
  • Stay home if you feel sick.
  • Wash your hands before eating and after blowing your nose or going to the bathroom.

A pediatrician can offer a few key tips to protect your toddler from common winter illnesses. To find a pediatrician, visit

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About the author

Children's Hospital of Georgia

Children’s Hospital of Georgia is the only facility in the area dedicated exclusively to children. It staffs the largest team of pediatric specialists in the region who deliver out- and in- patient care for everything from common childhood illnesses to life-threatening conditions like heart disorders, cancer and neurological diseases.