Cough In The Baby – What To Do?

Coughing in babies is an annoying symptom that can deprive you and your offspring of sleep. Often the cough has an important function and should not be suppressed.

Sometimes, however, it is time to do something about it.

But which home remedies are safe for the youngest family member?

Coughing In Babies: Sometimes Useful, But Always Annoying

Hiccups in babies or coughing are completely normal, but can sometimes be a cause for concern. Coughing is one of the physical reactions that can severely limit the quality of life, not only in adults. Even the offspring is sometimes tormented by cough – and more often than you think.

This important reflex, which ensures that foreign bodies, pathogens or house dust can escape from the windpipe, occurs comparatively frequently in babies.

Sometimes, however, there is a serious illness behind it that needs to be treated.

Why Is Coughing Important In Babies?

Dry cough, cough with sputum, spontaneous attacks, or chronic course. There are different variations and manifestations of the symptom. Usually, there is a disease behind it, but there can also be spontaneous irritable cough caused by a foreign body.

In this case, in particular, coughing is a sensible reaction of the body.

The annoying cough also has its raison d’être in connection with illnesses such as colds.

Various diseases can cause increased secretion in your baby or, of course, in adults, which wants to transport pathogens out of the body.

This secretion, which is important for the healing of the illness, settles on the respiratory tract, is perceptible as mucus in the throat, or worsens breathing.

The cough is to ensure that the secretion is removed and the airways are cleared.

Causes Of Cough In Babies

Has your little darling caught it and the irritating cough or productive cough has taken full hold? Then various causes come into question.

Inhalation Of Objects

A foreign body in the windpipe is a possible trigger of a baby’s cough. Small children often swallow while eating, but small objects such as toy parts are also a possibility.

These are inhaled during play or the baby sucks on them until a part detaches and enters the trachea.

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Illnesses such as a common cold, a flu-like infection, but also bronchitis, sinusitis, tracheitis, and laryngitis often cause a baby to have an accompanying irritating cough. In addition, whooping cough is a typical disease.

Furthermore, infections such as scarlet fever are occasionally accompanied by this symptom.


If your baby develops an allergy, for example to dust mites or animal hair, chesty cough is often the first symptom.

Beginning Asthma

Children who later suffer from asthma or similar chronic diseases of the respiratory tract may also develop a cough as babies. It is therefore considered the first, possible sign of respiratory disease.


The disease pseudo croup marks a special case for the causes of cough in babies. For: it is a chronic disease that can occur from the sixth month of life and usually lasts until the sixth year of life of the offspring.

Dangerous shortness of breath can occur due to violent coughing attacks.

Assign Cough In The Baby: Difficult For Laypersons, But Not Impossible

Which cough affects your baby can often be determined by the type of cough. This is not impossible even for laypersons. Important for the classification are the timing, the coughing sound, the possible sputum, and the accompanying symptoms.


In the case of an incipient asthma disease or an animal hair allergy, an irritating cough without sputum appears in fits and starts.

Your baby is usually affected by coughing attacks at night or early in the morning.

Bronchitis And Sinusitis

Nightly irritating cough can also indicate bronchitis or inflammation of the sinuses (sinusitis). In the first case, the baby’s cough tends to be mucous, moist, and productive; in the second, dry coughing occurs.

Foreign Body

Sudden onset of coughing during the day, especially in conjunction with feeding, indicates a foreign body.

Common Cold

Regularly occurring, initially dry cough, which subsequently turns into productive sputum, is a classic symptom of a cold. This is characteristically accompanied by a cold.

Whooping Cough

In whooping cough, cramping, violent coughing attacks are typical. Afterward, the affected person breathes in again with a wheezing sound, which is where whooping cough gets its name.


If the baby’s coughing fits sound barking and whistling, the voice is hoarse and the symptoms occur at night, you should definitely call a doctor because it could be the pseudo croup attacks.

These can become life-threatening in babies if left untreated.

Accompanying Symptoms At A Glance: When A Baby Cough Does Not Occur Alone

In the case of a physical defense reaction to a foreign body in the windpipe, your baby’s cough will probably be the only symptom.

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However, with illness, other symptoms come along. In the case of a cold, it is the common cold; in the case of sinusitis, it may be a headache; and in the case of an infection, it may even be fever.

For this reason, you should take your temperature regularly.

In addition, since small children and infants do not yet have a fully developed stomach closure mechanism, vomiting may occur during strong coughing fits. This is usually not a cause for concern.

However, if vomiting persists for a long period of time, it is advisable to see a doctor, as it may also be a symptom of whooping cough.

Dry Or Wet Cough In Babies?

As in adults, the cough in babies changes during the course of illness. Dry cough occurs at the beginning of a cold and then becomes a moist, productive cough with sputum before changing again to an irritating cough.

Dry cough, in particular, is experienced by sufferers as agonizing. Also, unlike productive cough, it is not “useful” because no pathogens or foreign bodies are coughed up.

Irritative cough that does not progress to productive cough is usually an indication of a cause of cough other than a cold.

Treatment Of Cough In Baby

Although coughing in a baby can be very useful in clearing foreign bodies and pathogens from the baby’s body, it is a stressful symptom for your offspring.

Especially if severe coughing deprives sleep or shortness of breath occurs, you should do something to relieve the discomfort.

No wonder that irritating cough over a long period of time is one of the most common reasons for a visit to the doctor with the baby.

Treatment Of Cough In The Baby Due To Swallowing

If your baby has swallowed, first aid is vital! If your offspring does not manage to cough up the foreign body in the windpipe on its own, it urgently needs your support.

To do this, place your baby carefully on its stomach on your knees and hold its head with one hand. This is tilted slightly downwards, as is the upper body.

Then gently pat your baby’s shoulder blades with the flat of your hand.

You can also try to remove the foreign body from your child’s mouth yourself.

If these measures do not help, call an ambulance immediately. However, the Heimlich maneuver, which involves applying strong pressure to the abdomen, should never be used on a baby.

This can cause injuries to the liver.

What Helps With A Baby’s Cough As An Accompanying Symptom Of Illness?

If an annoying baby cough is a reason for sleepless nights, you should raise your baby’s head and upper body.

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A flat pillow or towel that you place under the head of your child’s mattress is suitable for this.

This position allows your baby to breathe better and also facilitates coughing, which is very important in case of illness.

If your baby is fever-free, you can also take him for a walk in the fresh air. Fresh air has proven to be a real miracle weapon for many illnesses.

But make sure that your child is dressed warmly enough.

Make sure that irritating substances such as cigarette smoke are avoided in the baby’s environment – but that goes without saying even without an irritating cough! And it is also recommended that your baby drinks a lot.

You should therefore breastfeed him more often or prepare a tea. Gentle teas such as elderberry or fennel are suitable for babies.

You can even prepare the former yourself by pouring hot water over a small spoonful of fresh elderflowers.

Then let it steep for ten minutes and give it – once again cooled down – to your offspring with the bottle.

What Home Remedies For Coughs Help?

Many home remedies for coughs recommended for adults can also be used for your baby.

You can resort to warm or cold neck compresses. If your child tends to freeze, the warm compress is the better choice.

To do this, warm a scarf made of comfortable materials such as cotton over the heater and then carefully wrap it around the baby’s neck.

For a cool wrap, a soft towel is held under cold water from the tap, wrung out, and also placed around the baby’s neck.

An additional scarf ensures that the extra bed stays dry.

Tip: As a somewhat more elaborate variant for the warm wrap, you can also prepare mashed jacket potatoes as a wrap. These are simply wrapped in a thin towel and then used as a wrap.

But be sure to check the temperature in advance so that your baby does not scold himself.

A particularly popular home remedy for coughs is quark compresses. These have an antispasmodic and expectorant effect. They are not yet suitable for very young offspring.

But if your baby is already six months old or older, you can use this home remedy. You need some low-fat curd, which you heat slightly in a water bath until it reaches body temperature.

Put about 100 grams of curd on a cloth, drain it and pick it up with a soft cotton cloth. Spread the curd on it and fold everything into a wrap.

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The curd wrap is then placed on your baby’s chest together with a blanket and towels. Make sure that he or she does not freeze during the 20-minute application time and have a blanket ready.

Combating Coughs Caused By Dry Room Air

Sometimes an irritating cough at night is caused by the air in a room being too dry. In this case, you can remedy the situation by:

  • Frequently ventilate.
  • Put wet towels on the heater.
  • Hang up wet towels.
  • Place a kettle on the heater.

It also proves to be an effective trick to simply dry the damp laundry on the clothes horse in the children’s room.

Which Treatment Is Taboo?

Wet chest compresses are not recommended for very young infants, and cough syrups and similar medications are also taboo for the time being – unless they have been explicitly recommended by a doctor.

Cough syrups are sometimes incompatible with children due to certain herbs. Likewise, babies and toddlers often react negatively to essential oils such as camphor, eucalyptus, or mint.

While they can relieve irritating coughs in adults, they pose a high risk of respiratory spasms in children.

Cough In Babies: When To See A Doctor?

As a general rule, if children under the age of two are affected by a cough, you should not shy away from going to the doctor. A visit to the doctor is particularly important to clarify whether the irritating cough is not a precursor of diseases such as asthma, pseudo croup, or bronchitis.

Warning signs that should immediately prompt a visit to the doctor are:

  • A significant deterioration of the general condition.
  • More than two days of coughing in the baby.
  • Accompanying symptoms that indicate respiratory distress; for example, blue lips or wheezing sounds when breathing in.
  • Fever.
  • Bloody sputum.

Risks From Coughing In Baby

Coughing in babies is often associated with diseases that can have serious consequences. In the case of whooping cough, there is a risk of encephalopathy, damage to the brain caused by the bacteria.

Also, initially harmless colds can develop into pneumonia or inflammation of the middle ear if left untreated or inadequately treated.

Complications in infants arise from severe coughing fits that can make breathing difficult or lead to respiratory arrest.

This makes it all the more important to have recurrent or very severe coughing in the baby clarified by a doctor at an early stage.


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