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Quick facts


Learning about RSV can seem overwhelming, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Here, you’ll find quick facts about the virus, how you can help protect your baby, and what you can expect if he/she becomes infected.



What would you like to know?


  • The basics
  • Symptoms
  • What you can do
  • Getting medical attention

Understanding RSV


  • Almost all babies get infected with RSV by the time they’re 2 years old.
  • In premature babies (preemies) and in babies with certain lung conditions or congenital heart disease, RSV can be serious and cause infection of the lungs.
  • If your infant is infected with a mild case of RSV, his/her infection will usually get better on its own, though your doctor may recommend treating symptoms such as fever.
  • RSV infections tend to happen from fall to spring in temperate climates such as Canada, but RSV season may vary by region. Ask your doctor when RSV season occurs in your local area.

What RSV infection looks like


  • At first, symptoms of RSV infection may include fever, runny nose and other cold-like symptoms.
  • If the RSV infection is becoming more serious and possibly spreading to the lungs, symptoms can include:
    • Deeper and more frequent coughing
    • Difficulty breathing, including wheezing (a whistling sound) and rapid breathing
    • Blue lips or fingernails
    • Dehydration
    • Difficulty feeding

Your doctor may ask that you seek immediate medical attention if your baby presents any of these symptoms, or if you have any concerns regarding his or her condition.


Help protect your baby from RSV


  • There are many ways you can help protect your baby from catching RSV infection. If you have a cold or fever, avoid kissing your baby.
  • Limit your child’s exposure to people who have a contagious illness.
  • Because RSV can live on surfaces for hours, it’s important to make sure countertops and bathroom surfaces are cleaned regularly with cleanser – especially when someone in the family has a cold.
  • Clean toys regularly, and always after a child with a cold has played with them.
  • A humidifier can also help make breathing easier. If you use a humidifier, be sure to keep it clean.

Treating RSV


  • There is no treatment that can cure the RSV infection itself. That’s because RSV infection is caused by a virus, which cannot be treated with antibiotics (unlike bacterial infections).
  • If your baby needs to be hospitalized for an RSV infection, he/she may be given an IV to replenish his/her fluids. Your baby may also receive humidified oxygen, or in some cases, may need a ventilator to help him/her breathe.
  • In some cases, your child’s doctor may order an inhaled medication to open the air passages in the lungs and reduce wheezing.
  • In very severe cases, your baby may also be given antiviral medications.



Your baby’s risk


Now that you’ve gotten some quick facts, learn more about RSV and discover which babies are at risk for infection.




If your baby is considered to be at high risk for serious complications from an RSV infection, talk to your doctor. Ask what you can do to help protect your baby, and what steps you should take if he/she develops any symptoms.


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