When does a cold require a doctor visit?
colds never require a doctor visit. colds are viruses so there is nothing a doctor can do for you anyway. they can give you advice, which would be rest and a humidifier and fluids fluids fluids, but who doesn't know that?
of course, if there are more serious symptoms or signs that something like pneumonia is developing, then you might need medical assistance. something like issues breathing, a long lasting or super high fever, lung infection etc.
people always ask me if i'm taking my LO to the doctor when she's sick. sometimes i think it's a generational thing, sometimes it's cultural, sometimes it's just personality (the old folks who think a cool breeze causes the flu, the cautious people who take antibiotics like candy, etc). i'm friends with a mom a decade older than me, with a baby the same age. every few weeks or months, they both come down with something, it's natural. every time, she takes him to the doctor, and it's always some "serious" condition that they "almost needed to go to the hospital to treat." my LO comes down with the same symptoms a few days later, i take her to the doctor (because my friend made it seem like it was so serious), and the doctor is like "meh, it's just a little virus going round... she seems to be doing ok, come back in 4 days if it's not better." the best part is that we go to the same pediatrician!
if there are signs of an ar infection, or I tend to feel like after a week you're usually over the cold and dealing with a secondary infection (sinus infection, ear infection, bronchitis, etc. opportunistic bacteria that use the time when the immune system is weakened from the cold to take hold)
For me, if he is eating well, having wet/dirty diapers as normal, sleeping ok and no fever I do not take DS to the doctor for a cold. If any single one of those things seems off I would probably take him. That being said, we got a note from daycare that he was exposed to RSV and the next day DS came down with a "cold" and we took him to the doctor straight away, knowing about the exposure.
I expect a cold to last about a week, sometimes a bit more. Any fever, cough, pain, etc. that persisted past about 12 days might send me in, as would trouble breathing, unresponsiveness, dehydration, or pain that was sufficient to keep a child from enjoying play.
when my LO had her first cold i called my doctor's office and the nurse i talked to said that most colds take about 10 days to clear up and that i didn't need to bring her in unless she was sleeping a lot more than usual or a lot fussier than usual, and she said just to focus on treating the symptoms (baby tylenol for fever, humidifier if she's very congested, etc.,). i just used saline drops and a nose aspirator to clear out snot so she could breathe and i let her sleep upright in a bouncy seat for a few nights. the worst of it was over after two days. you can always call and ask your doctor's office when they want to see you. i know they don't want everyone coming in for every little thing but they will be able to give you clear guidelines. hope your LO feels better soon!