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What To Do For a Baby With a Cough?

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baby cough

Table of Contents

It can be intimidating and scary when babies get sick. Baby cough can have several causes including common cold, fever, allergies, infections, or asthma. Since coughing is a primary symptom for several illnesses, it is important to gauge the reason behind the baby’s cough.

A baby’s cough may be wet or dry. Baby dry cough is different from wet cough. The former mostly occurs due to cold or allergies of some sort while the latter causes phlegm to form in the baby’s airways, thus making it difficult for the baby to breathe.

Parenthoodbliss researched some of the different types of baby cough, the means to identify them, and the right baby medicine for them.

1) Baby Cough Indicating Common Cold


Most of the time, a common cold or flu could be the cause of your baby’s cough. This is a viral infection of respiratory organs that occurs mainly because your baby is yet to develop a strong immune system that can fight off these kinds of disease-causing germs or viruses.


The main symptom of this illness is a dry hacking cough, often accompanied by a runny nose, sore throat, and mild fever. In some cases, your child might also suffer from headaches, body pain, and may have trouble sleeping. The symptoms might last up to a week or two.

Treatment and Prevention Methods:

Since recovering from a viral infection requires plenty of rest and fluids, make sure your child consumes lots of liquids so that he or she can stay hydrated. It might also be a good idea to try nasal saline drops to moisten nasal passages and loosen thick nasal mucus. Since there is no vaccine for the common cold, the best way to fight it is by exercising good hygiene and keeping your baby away from anyone who is sick.

2) Baby Croup Cough

Causes of Croup:

This kind of baby cough is mostly caused by croup brought on by allergic reactions, temperature differences, or a respiratory infection. When your child’s airway gets inflamed, it swells around the vocal cord, creating difficulty in breathing.

Symptoms of Croup:

One of the sure signs of croup is a loud barking cough further aggravated by crying and agitation. It could also be accompanied by fever and noisy breathing. Symptoms of croup worsen at night and usually last for a few days.

Treatment and Prevention Methods:

Firstly, try to ease your child’s breathing, either by taking him outside or by making him breathe in from a cool-mist humidifier. If the child’s symptoms are severe, seek the help of a doctor right away. Since croup spreads much like the common cold, it is advisable to maintain good hygiene by washing your hands frequently. It is also necessary to keep your child from anyone who is sick and encourage him or her to cover his or her mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing.

3) Whooping Cough

Causes of Whooping Cough:

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a highly contagious bacterial infection that causes persistent spells of coughing without allowing the child to take breaths in between. Once the bacteria have entered the child’s airways, it causes mucus as well as inflation of the airways.

Symptoms of Whooping Cough:

The disease generally starts with cold-like symptoms and in some cases, a mild fever or cough. Other signs of whooping cough include violent bouts of coughing accompanied by vomiting, bulging eyes, and fatigue.

Treatments and Prevention Methods:

In case you suspect your baby’s cough to be a symptom of whooping cough, it is advisable to rush to a doctor immediately. The child needs to be hospitalized so that he/she can receive oxygen during coughing spells. Since this is a contagious disease, the baby and other family members may be advised to take antibiotics. The  best way to keep whooping cough at bay is through vaccinations. A pediatrician can offer you advice on the best time to vaccinate your little one. Since babies require three doses to be fully protected from this illness, it is necessary to ensure that anyone who looks after the baby is vaccinated as well.

4) Baby Cough Indicating Pneumonia


Pneumonia is a lung infection that is either bacterial or viral. A child has increased chances of developing pneumonia if he or she has weak immunity or ongoing health problems such as asthma, cancer, or cystic fibrosis. This disease is generally seen more in children younger than five years old.


Like several other infections, pneumonia starts off with a fever that might cause your baby general discomfort. Other signs include fast, labored breathing accompanied by wheezing and chest pains while breathing or coughing.

Treatments and Prevention Methods:

Antibiotics are often used to treat bacterial pneumonia. In case it is viral, plenty of rest and proper healthcare is advised. Along with practicing a hygienic lifestyle, your child should be vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia. It is advisable to consult a pediatrician and figure out the best vaccine for your baby.

5) Baby Cough Indicating Bronchiolitis


Most cases of bronchiolitis in babies below the age of one are caused by the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The virus causes an infection in the upper respiratory tract which gradually spreads downward into the lower tract as well. In children older than three years, this virus causes a simple cold but it can be potentially life-threatening in the case of infants.


Cough and wheezing are the most common signs of bronchiolitis. The illness may also be accompanied by fever, changes in breathing patterns, and loss of appetite in some cases.

Treatments and Prevention Methods:

This kind of baby cough can be treated at home if your baby’s breathing is normal. Plenty of fluids and good rest is required. It is also necessary to keep an eye on your child’s respiratory rate so that just in case it gets too high or your little one has trouble breathing, you can immediately rush to a children’s hospital.

You can prevent your child from contracting bronchiolitis by making him or her observe proper hygiene including covering their nose and mouth while coughing or sneezing. It is also necessary to make sure your child washes his or her hands often during the day.

6) Baby Cough Indicating Asthma


Asthma attacks often result in short periods of intense coughing. Since asthma generally gets worse at night, if your baby has increased fits of coughing during the night when compared to the day, it could be an indicator that your little one is asthmatic. Childhood asthma can be bothersome and interfere with the daily activities of the child.


The main symptoms of asthma include continuous cough and wheezing. Your baby might also have difficulty breathing. Some telltale signs of asthma include pale or blue coloring, exhaustion, and difficulty in sucking or eating.

Treatments and Prevention Methods:

You must go to a doctor if you suspect your child has asthma. Early treatment can help control symptoms and prevent frequent attacks. In case your child is diagnosed with asthma, it is advisable to consult a doctor and create an asthma plan which can help you monitor symptoms and act promptly in case of an asthma attack.

7) Baby Cough Indicating Allergies


Young children may be allergic to particular food items or medicines as well as changes in the environment. Allergic reactions to food items or medicines occur as soon as they have been consumed. Other causes vary from child to child and may include allergies to dust mites, pet dander, and pollen.


The signs of allergic reactions can differ based on the child and the type of allergy. The most common symptoms include rashes, wheezing, or breathing problems. Food allergies can often result in vomiting or stomach pain.

Treatments and Prevention Methods:

The main remedy for baby allergy is to eliminate your child’s exposure to the allergen. In case it is a food allergy, you should adjust your child’s diet. It is also advisable to go for an allergy test in case you suspect your baby is allergic to something particular. Majority of these tests can be performed by a pediatrician.

In conclusion, a baby cough can be managed if you remain alert and administer the required cough remedies on time. It is also advisable to work with a doctor and acquire information about the vaccinations or medicines that your baby might need.

Baby Cough FAQs

1) When should you worry about a baby cough?

Coughing need not be seen as a threat immediately but in case your baby's cough persists for more than a few days or is accompanied by a runny nose and fever, it is advisable to visit a doctor and ensure that your baby is hale and hearty.

2) Is honey a good remedy for baby cough?

Honey can be used as a remedy for sore throat and baby cough. Since honey has several antibacterial properties, it can also help fight infection. However, honey is not safe for babies until they are at least a year old since there is a risk of botulism.

3) Is baby dry cough dangerous?

A baby may cough for a variety of reasons but unless the baby's cough is accompanied by breathlessness, fever, or any other symptoms, you can usually treat the child at home. In case the cough persists even after a few days, you should visit a pediatrician.

4) What are the indicators of RSV in babies?

The common indicators of Respiratory Syncytial Virus or RSV include fever, wheezing, short episodes without breathing, straining of the chest or stomach while breathing and difficulty in eating and drinking.

5) Are baby cough medicines safe for my child?

It is not advisable to give your infant over-the-counter cough medications unless he or she is over two years old. Even then, it is imperative to consult a doctor before giving any kind of medicine to your child.

On behalf of the editorial team at Parenthoodbliss, we follow strict reporting guidelines and only use credible sources, along with peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and highly respected health organizations. To learn about how we maintain content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.

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