What to Do When Your Baby Has a Cough

A cough in a baby can be concerning, but it's a common symptom that often accompanies minor illnesses like colds. Childhealthy offers a comprehensive guide to help you understand when a cough is a simple part of your baby’s development and when it may be something that needs a doctor's attention.

Understanding coughs in babies: Coughing is a protective reflex that clears the throat or airways. While it can sound concerning, it often serves an important function, particularly when a baby has a cold, helping to clear phlegm or mucus.

Sick child, toddler boy lying on the couch in living room with a fever, mother checking their temperature

Top 5 tips for managing your baby's cough:

  1. Normal vs. concerning cough: Occasional coughing is normal. Monitor your baby's general well-being, feeding, and breathing.
  2. Medication caution: Consult a GP before giving babies under 6 months any medications. Always follow dosing advice on the medication bottles.
  3. Persistent cough: A cough lasting more than three weeks requires a GP's assessment.
  4. Emergency signs: Difficulty in breathing is an emergency. Seek immediate medical care.
  5. Identifying croup: A barking cough with stridor could indicate croup , requiring medical evaluation.

Seeking medical advice: Seek medical advice for persistent coughs or those accompanied by a high fever. Immediate help is vital if your child is struggling to breathe or if the cough interferes with eating or sleeping.

Home care for coughs: Keeping your child comfortable with pain relief and hydrated with fluids are the two most important areas to focus on. For babies over one year, a spoon of honey before sleep may help ease the cough. This does not replace the need for a medical check and is only for symptom relief.

Preventive measures: Ensure vaccinations are up to date, maintain good hygiene, and keep babies away from sick individuals to prevent infections like croup.

While it's distressing to hear your baby cough, understanding its causes and knowing how to respond can ensure you provide the best care. Always err on the side of caution and consult a healthcare professional if in doubt about your baby's health.


Disclaimer: Information contained in this article is intended as general advice and does not replace a medical assessment. If you are concerned about your child, please contact your doctor for advice.

Related articles

Book your appointment

Clinic, remote appointments and home visits are available daily.

We can always find a time to suit you, so please do ask if you are having difficulty finding a suitable time.