Viral Pneumonia, Infant

ExitCare ImagePneumonia is an infection of the lungs. Pneumonia that is caused by a virus is called viral pneumonia. Some cases of viral pneumonia are mild, while others may be more serious and require hospitalization.


Different viruses can cause pneumonia. Pneumonia often occurs when the infection that causes a common cold spreads from the upper air passages and nose into the deep air passages in the lungs.


  • Cough.  

  • Fever.  

  • Runny nose.  

  • Poor appetite.  

  • Difficulty nursing or sucking on a bottle.  

  • Fussy behavior.  

  • Noisy breathing.  

  • Decreased activity and sleep.  

  • Fast and difficult breathing.  

  • Grunting sound when breathing out.  

  • Vomiting.


Diagnosis of pneumonia may be confirmed with a chest X-ray. Blood tests may be done to make sure the pneumonia is due to a virus. Nose swab tests may be done to check for certain viruses.


Mild cases of viral pneumonia may be treated at home. More severe cases may require hospitalization. Your infant may be given:

  • Fluids to prevent dehydration. These may be given through a vein (intravenously).  

  • Extra oxygen.  

  • Medicines. These may be given to control fever. Medicines to suppress a cough are not usually recommended. They should only be given if specifically prescribed by your child's health care provider.


  • Tilt your infant's mattress up. This helps decrease congestion in the nose. However, it may not be practical for an infant who is active in bed.  

  • Use a bulb syringe to suction the mucus from your infant's nose if needed. Saline drops may help nasal suctioning. They can be used to loosen thick nasal mucus. You may buy saline drops or make them yourself by mixing a quarter teaspoon of table salt in a cup of warm water and allowing it to cool.  

  • Make sure your child stays well hydrated as directed by your health care provider.

  • Consider using a vaporizer or humidifier. These sometimes help to keep nasal mucus loose.  

  • Clean your infant's nose gently with a moist, soft cloth if needed. Before cleaning the nose, put a few drops of saline solution on the outside skin of the nose to wet the area  

  • Wash your hands before and after you handle your baby to prevent the spread of infection.

  • Only give over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, fever, or discomfort as directed by your child's health care provider.


  • Your infant vomits with coughing.  

  • Your infant is having difficulty feeding.

  • Your infant is passing stool or urine (voiding) less than normal.

  • Your infant is unable to sleep or is sleeping excessively.

  • Your infant is very fussy.


  • Your infant has trouble breathing. Watch for:

  • Rapid breathing.  

  • A grunting sound when breathing out.  

  • Sucking of the spaces between and under the ribs.  

  • A high-pitched noise with breathing out or in (wheezing).  

  • Flaring of the nostrils.  

  • Blue color around the lips.

  • A temporary stop in breathing during or after coughing

  • Your infant coughs up blood.  

  • Your infant vomits repeatedly.  

  • Your infant is much less active than what you would expect.  

  • Your infant feeds poorly for 2 or more days after becoming ill.  

  • Your infant who is younger than 3 months has a fever.  

  • Your infant who is older than 3 months has a fever and persistent symptoms.  

  • Your infant who is older than 3 months has a fever and symptoms suddenly get worse.  


  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your infant's condition.

  • Will get help right away if your infant is not doing well or gets worse.