Baby Symptoms & Conditions

Sore Throat In Babies

Your toddler can talk — but she might not be able to tell you she has a sore throat. These are the signs she does, and here’s how to make her feel better fast.

What is a sore throat like for a baby?

It’s not uncommon for your baby or toddler to have a sore throat — usually she has pain, discomfort or just a raw feeling, especially when she swallows. But it might be hard for her to point it out to you specifically, since she may have difficulty identifying what hurts.

What could be causing my baby’s sore throat?

Just like in adults, the most likely culprit for a baby’s sore throat is a cold or upper respiratory infection. And while it’s less common in children under two, her sore throat might be caused by a strep (bacterial) infection. Usually, strep is accompanied by a fever and head pain, nausea and vomiting, and, in some cases, a rough rash (think: sandpaper).

When should I take my baby to the doctor with a sore throat?

If she develops any of the other telltale signs (fever, rash), bring her in for a test to rule out strep (if she tests positive, she’ll likely be given a course of antibiotics). Otherwise, if her sore throat is affecting her ability to eat, or if it’s partnered with breathing problems, talk to your doc about treatments.

What should I do to treat my baby’s sore throat?

If she’s eating solids, give her soft, smooth foods (think: chicken broth, Popsicles, Jell-O, yogurt and applesauce), since they slide down easily and she’s more likely to want them than stuff that’s rougher. Pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen may also help.

By Jennifer Shu, MD, pediatrician with Children’s Medical Group P.C. in Atlanta and author of Heading Home With Your Newborn (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2010)