Baby, Baby Care, Child, Children's diseases, Infant health

Coughing baby – what to do?

Coughing 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 the baby: sometimes useful, but always annoying

Babies hiccup or cough is perfectly 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 are sometimes tormented by coughing – and more often than you think.

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

Sometimes, however, there is a serious medical condition that needs to be treated.

Why is coughing important in babies?

Dry cough, cough with sputum, spontaneous attacks or chronic course. There are different variants and manifestations of the symptom. There is usually a disease behind it, but spontaneous dry coughing caused by a foreign body can also occur.

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

The annoying cough also has a right to exist 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 healing the disease, settles in the airways, can be felt as mucus in the throat or makes breathing worse.

The cough should ensure that the secretion is removed and the airways are free.

Causes of cough in baby

Has it caught your little darling and the dry cough or productive cough has it fully under control? Then there are various reasons.

inhaling objects

A foreign object in the windpipe is a possible trigger for a baby to cough. Small children often choke while eating, but small objects such as toy parts are also possible.

These are inhaled while playing or the baby sucks on them until a part detaches and enters the windpipe.


Illnesses such as a common cold, a flu-like infection, but also bronchitis, sinus, tracheal and larynx infections often cause a dry cough in the baby. 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 house dust mites or animal hair, a dry cough is often the first symptom.

Incipient asthma

Coughing can also occur as a baby in children who later suffer from asthma or similar chronic diseases of the respiratory tract. It is therefore considered a first possible sign of the respiratory disease.


The disease pseudocroup marks a special case among the causes of cough in the baby. Because: It is a chronic disease that can occur from the sixth month of life and usually lasts until the child is six years old.

Violent coughing attacks can cause dangerous shortness of breath.

Classifying a baby’s cough: Difficult for laypersons, but not impossible

Which cough affects your baby can often be clarified based on the type of cough. Even for laypeople this is not impossible. Important for the assignment are the time, the coughing sound, the possible expectoration and the accompanying symptoms.


At the onset of asthma or an animal dander allergy, attacks of non-productive cough appear.

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

bronchitis and sinusitis

A hacking cough at night can also indicate bronchitis or inflammation of the paranasal sinuses (sinusitis). In the first case, the baby’s cough is more mucous, wet and productive, in the second there is a dry cough.

foreign body

A sudden attack of coughing during the day, especially in connection with eating, indicates a foreign body.


A regular, initially dry cough that then turns into productive sputum is a classic symptom of a cold. This is typically accompanied by a runny nose.

whooping cough

In whooping cough, spasmodic, violent coughing attacks are typical. The affected person then breathes in again with a wheezing noise, which is where whooping cough gets its name from.


If babies cough fits sound barking and whistling, the voice is hoarse and the symptoms appear at night, you should definitely call a doctor, because it could be the pseudo croup attacks.

If left untreated, these can be life-threatening in babies.


Accompanying symptoms at a glance: If baby cough does not occur alone

If your baby’s coughing is a physical reaction to a foreign object in the trachea, it’s probably the only symptom.

In the case of illness, however, there are additional complaints. In the case of a cold, it is the sniffles, in the case of a sinus infection, it can be a headache, and in the case of an infection, it can even be fever.

For this reason, you should measure your temperature regularly .

Since small children and infants do not yet have a fully developed stomach-closing mechanism, vomiting can also occur during severe coughing fits. This is usually nothing to worry about.

If you vomit over a long period of time, however, it is advisable to see a doctor, as it can also be a symptom of whooping cough.

Dry or wet cough in babies?

As in adults, the cough in the baby changes over the course of the disease. A dry cough occurs at the onset of a cold and then turns into a wet, productive cough with sputum production before turning back into a dry cough.

Above all, the dry cough is perceived as tormenting by those affected. Also, unlike a productive cough, it is not “useful” because no pathogens or foreign bodies are coughed up.

A dry cough that does not progress to a productive cough is usually an indication of a different cause of the cough than a cold.

Treatment of cough in the baby

Although a baby’s cough can be very useful for removing foreign objects and pathogens from the baby’s body, it is a distressing symptom for your offspring.

You should do something to alleviate the symptoms, especially if you have a strong cough that makes you unable to sleep or you have shortness of breath.

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

Treatment of cough caused by ingestion in babies

If your baby has choked, first aid is vital! If your offspring does not manage to cough up the foreign body in the trachea on their own, they urgently need your support.

To do this, carefully place your baby face down on your knees and hold his head with one hand. This, like the upper body, is tilted slightly downwards.

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

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

If these measures do not help, call an ambulance immediately. However, you should never use the Heimlich maneuver, in which strong pressure is exerted on the stomach, on a baby.

This can result in liver injury.

What helps with a cough in the baby as an accompanying symptom of diseases?

If the baby’s annoying cough is the reason for sleepless nights, you should position your baby’s head and upper body higher.

A flat pillow or towel is suitable for this, which you put under the headboard of your child’s mattress.

This position allows your baby to breathe better and it also makes it easier to cough up, which is very important in the case of illness.

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

But make sure that your child is dressed warm enough.

Make sure that additional irritating substances such as cigarette smoke are avoided in the baby’s environment – but that goes without saying without a dry cough! It is also recommended that your baby drink a lot .

So you should breastfeed it more often or make a tea. Gentle teas such as elder or fennel are suitable for babies.

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

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

Which home remedies help against cough?

You can also use many of the home remedies for coughs recommended for adults on your baby.

You can use warm or cold neck wraps. If your child tends to freeze, the warm wrap is the better choice.

To do this, you 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 more elaborate variant for the warm wrap, you can also prepare mashed jacket potatoes as an envelope. These are simply wrapped in a thin towel and then used as a wrap.

Be sure to check the temperature beforehand so your baby doesn’t get scalded.

Curd wraps have proven to be a particularly popular home remedy for coughs. These have an antispasmodic and expectorant effect. They are not yet suitable for the very young offspring.

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


Around 100 grams of quark are placed on a cloth, drained and picked up by a soft cotton cloth. Spread the quark on top and fold everything into a wrap.

The quark wrap is then placed on your baby’s chest together with a blanket and towels. Make sure that it doesn’t freeze during the 20-minute exposure time and have a blanket ready.

Fight coughs with dry room air

Sometimes a nocturnal dry cough is caused by too dry room air. Then you can remedy this by:

  • air frequently
  • put damp 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 drying rack in the children’s room.

Which treatment is taboo?

Wet breast wraps are not recommended for very young babies, and cough syrups and similar medicines are taboo for the time being – unless they have been explicitly recommended by a doctor.

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

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

Cough in the baby: when to see the doctor?

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

Warning signs that should prompt an immediate visit to the doctor are:

  • A significant deterioration in general condition
  • Baby coughs for more than two days
  • Accompanying symptoms that indicate shortness of breath; for example, blue lips or wheezing sounds when inhaling
  • fever
  • Bloody sputum

Risks of coughing in babies

Coughing in babies is often associated with diseases that can have serious consequences. Whooping cough puts you at risk of encephalopathy, damage to the brain caused by the bacteria.

Colds that are initially harmless can also develop into pneumonia or inflammation of the middle ear if left untreated or treated inadequately.

Complications in infants result from violent fits of coughing, which can make breathing difficult or stop breathing.

It is all the more important to have recurring or very severe coughs in babies checked out by a doctor at an early stage.


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