Why does my toddler always have a runny nose

Why does my toddler always have a runny nose

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Does your toddler always seem like they’ve got a cold, with red eyes, runny noses and the occasional sneeze? If the answer is yes then congratulations! You have a perfectly normal toddler.

Outside of the lockdowns, toddlers love to get around and touch and taste everything they see – it’s a part of growing up and learning. If they regularly go to places like soft play, toddler groups or even a nursery/pre-school then they will catch their fair share of colds and other bugs along the way. It’s almost unavoidable but it does help them build their immune system in time.

But are you often wondering why your toddler seems to always have a runny nose and you want to learn if it really is something normal or if it’s something else?

Causes for toddler runny nose


The most common cause for a toddler to have a runny nose are upper respiratory tract infections (posh word for a cold) and/or allergic reaction in the lining of the nose (rhinitis). They can happen at the same time which can make a diagnosis hard but in general, are fairly harmless and will go away on their own with little to no treatment.


Colds cause a runny nose and toddlers will go through colds an awful lot during their early years. This is because of their immature immune system which can’t fight off the infection as well as an adult can. A cold is a mild illness but one that’s easy to catch as it tends to not be severe enough to keep people indoors or out of work. If you and your toddler frequent places like toddler groups, soft plays and nurseries then they will inevitably get colds often.

There’s not much you can to avoid getting these colds but it is not recommended to avoid these places altogether as social interaction and communities bring an overwhelming amount of positives which far outweigh the inconvenience of the sniffles. Feel free to have a day off with your toddler but don’t restrict their social activity for the sake of not catching a cold.

In the long term, catching colds over and over again will slow down as their immune system builds up and they stop being so touchy-feely with everything.

Before the coronavirus came and turned the world upside down, our toddler seemed to have a cold every single week. When the lockdowns came in and his favourite toddler groups ended and soft play centres stopped he has gone almost a year without a runny nose.

Allergic Rhinitis

Some young children may get their runny noses from an allergen such as dust, mould, pollen and skin particles. If this sounds like a pet allergy or hayfever to you then you’d be right, allergic rhinitis is just a posh word to describe this group of allergies. Having an allergy causes runny noses in toddlers as well as red itchy eyes and perhaps skin itchiness. If you notice the runny noses are more apparent in the spring and summer then it’s good practice to keep them away from places with a high pollen count, away from pets and always ensure the home is clean and free of dust.

An allergic reaction is a lot more uncomfortable than cold so making sure they get plenty of rest and speak with your paediatrician about any medications which can ease the symptoms. Always give them plenty of water to drink as the body uses an awful lot to combat the symptoms.


How can I stop my toddler’s runny nose?

You can’t stop a runny nose just like that because it’s the body’s natural response to stop more germs, allergens and bacteria to get inside the body. However, you can help them feel a lot better by showing them and helping them to blow their nose regularly to clear the build-up of mucus and help them breathe a little better. This is much easier when you have a toddler that can converse.

An air purifier can help keep some airborne allergens out of the home.

What causes a constant runny nose?

The two biggest causes of a runny nose are an upper respiratory tract infection or an allergy. They can both happen at the same time and largely harmless as long as you get plenty of rest and drink plenty of fluids. Staying away from public places and places with a high pollen count can avoid getting them in the first place as long as it doesn’t take away from your toddler’s much needed social interaction.

Why does my toddler always have a cold?

Toddlers are very touchy-feely, unhygienic and very sociable with an immature immune system. Sharing toys such as toy garages, microphones, dressing tables, rocking horses and dollhouses can lead to getting sick. This means they get out and about a lot, touch dirty surfaces and don’t clean themselves making them easy targets for cold viruses. This in turn with an immature immune system means they will catch colds a lot. It’s perfectly normal to get colds often at that age but parents can help reduce the risk by reducing their contact with objects and children who are unwell and by cleaning their hands for them.

How long should a runny nose last in a toddler?

A runny nose should last between a couple of days and a week. For allergen caused runny noses it could be longer if it is not managed and they are continuously exposed to allergens such as pollen, dust and mould.