Baby Coughs: The Complete Guide To Identifying And Caring For Them
As a parent, you’ll get pretty adept at caring for your little one when they’re sick. But it can be hard to know what to do to treat and prevent a baby cough.
Coughs can be sneaky little things. There are several different causes and types of coughs, and a cough from a regular cold can last quite a while. So, what’s a concerned parent to do?
We’ll talk about where your baby’s cough might be coming from, when to call the pediatrician, and what you can do to naturally ease your little one’s cough and make them more comfortable.
Where Do Your Baby Coughs Come From?
For this article, we’ll focus on how to care for your little one when they’re dealing with a cough from a cold or flu. But it’s important to understand other causes of baby coughs, too, so you can tell when your baby needs a trip to the doctor.
Asthma, Allergies, And Irritants
Just as in adults, asthma or allergies can cause little ones to cough, as can irritants like smoke or dry air.
If you think your baby might have asthma or allergies, you’ll want to discuss it with your pediatrician.
One sickness that makes your baby cough is whooping cough, also known as pertussis.
It has this funny name because of the sound made when you inhale after a bout of coughing. Whoop! Except it’s not a happy whoop; it’s a sick whoop.
Whooping cough often acts like a cold (a stuffy nose, fever, cough, etc.), but the coughing gets worse and you may hear the “whoop.” Or you might simply notice that your baby has trouble breathing.
Whooping cough is definitely a reason to take your little one to the doctor!
The good news is that there is a vaccine (DTap) that protects against pertussis. Your baby can start the DTap vaccine when they’re just a couple of months old. Talk to your pediatrician to decide if it’s right for your little one.
RSV is a virus that spreads easily and can affect both kids and adults. But it can be particularly dangerous for babies if there are complications.
If your baby has RSV, they might have cold-like symptoms or they may have trouble breathing. Any time you think your baby is having a hard time breathing, you need to take them to the doctor!
RSV can also lead to pneumonia and bronchiolitis, which brings us to the next point.
Bronchioles are the small airways in your lungs, and bronchiolitis is inflammation, infection, and congestion of those tiny tubes.
While anyone can come down with a case of bronchiolitis, babies and kids tend to get it because of the extra-tiny size of their lungs and bronchioles.
This sickness can often be treated at home, but you’ll want to talk to your doctor if your baby is young (less than four months old).
Important note: go to the doctor right away if you notice that your baby is having trouble breathing, wheezing, breathing very quickly, or has a blue tint to their lips, fingernail, or toenails.
The Common Cold
If your baby hasn’t caught a cold yet, sorry to break it to you, but they will.
There are so many different types of colds (not to mention the flu!), and your little one’s body is still busy developing their immunity to fight them off.
When your baby gets a cold, a cough (wet or dry) often comes as part of the package. Usually, the mucus in their throat or the phlegm in their chest causes the cough.
The annoying thing is that the cough usually hangs around much longer than the other symptoms, like their stuffy nose or fever.
If your baby is coughing due to a cold, your job will be to keep them as comfortable as possible and calm their cough as much as you can. That’s what we’ll discuss in the rest of this article!
When To Call Your Pediatrician
We’ve already mentioned a few instances in which you need to give your pediatrician a call or take your little one in for a visit. Here are a few other reasons your baby should see the doctor:
- If your newborn (under four months) has a cold or cough
- If your baby is coughing blood
- If your baby has blue lips
- If your parental intuition tells you your baby isn’t well
- If your baby isn’t drinking enough (check for the right number of dirty diapers)
- If their cough lasts more than three weeks
- If you notice wheezing or difficulty breathing
- If your baby has a high temperature
How To Care For Your Baby’s Cough
All that being said, when your baby is sick with a virus or a run-of-the-mill cold, your task is to ease their symptoms and make them feel as comfortable and happy as possible!
In case you didn’t know, cough and cold medicines aren’t safe for little ones. If you’re unsure about what medicine your baby can take, talk with your doctor.
So, since giving cold and cough medicine to your baby is off the table, what can you do to help your sweet one stop coughing and feel better? Let’s take a look.
1) Give Your Baby Plenty Of Fluids
Keeping your baby hydrated when they have a cold is important for a couple of reasons.
First, it helps their body run like a well-oiled machine and, hopefully, recover faster. Secondly, staying hydrated can loosen congestion, which is part of what causes coughing.
If your baby is under six months old, they should drink only breastmilk or formula. Offer plenty while they’re sick. But if your baby is over six months old, try other options to keep them drinking fluids!
Offer your baby their favorite juice, diluting it with water if you prefer to cut down on how much sugar they’re taking in.
You can also try heating up some apple juice to help soothe their cough. This is especially great if your little one also has a sore throat! Before you give the warm juice to your baby, make sure it’s not too hot.
If your baby refuses to drink, sneak in extra fluids by offering them juice popsicles!
2) Apply A Soothing Chest Rub
If your little one is three years old or older, provide some coughing relief by applying Babo Botanicals’s Eucalyptus Remedy™ Organic Soothing Chest Rub.
Did you know that eucalyptus is known to help relieve coughs and congestion? It’s true! So we created our non-medicated, soothing chest rub with coconut oil and USDA Certified Organic eucalyptus, lavender, and rosemary oil.
Rub it gently onto your child’s chest, neck, back, and feet to calm and relax them for more restful sleep.
3) Run A Humidifier
The moisture that a humidifier pumps into the air can help calm a cough in a couple of ways. It combats irritating, dry air, and it can help loosen mucus.
With toddlers or little kids, the best option is a cool-mist humidifier to avoid burns from steam or hot water.
Finally, if you find yourself without a humidifier, run a hot shower to put some moisture into the air and let your little one sit in the steamy bathroom.
4) Use A Bulb Syringe
Easing your baby’s stuffy nose is part of relieving congestion and dealing with their cough. Since your baby can’t grab a tissue and blow their nose, you’ll need to lend a hand with a bulb syringe.
First, squeeze the air out of the bulb syringe and hold it that way. Then gently and carefully insert the tip of the syringe ¼ or ½ inch into one nostril.
While the tip is still in your baby’s nose, release the bulb so that it sucks mucus out, then remove it from their nose. Squeeze the mucus in the bulb syringe into a tissue before repeating the same steps on your baby’s other nostril.
5) Reduce Irritants
Smoke, dry air, and even household products like chemical-based cleaners can irritate our airways and make us cough.
Protect your baby by reducing common irritants however you can. Use a humidifier, quit smoking, avoid lighting candles, and opt for natural products instead of chemical-filled products.
Go for a non-irritating, cough-calming bath time by bathing your little one with Babo Botanicals’s Eucalyptus Remedy™ Plant Based Shampoo, Bubble Bath and Wash.
This 3-in-1 product is EWG Verified™ — it’s good for the earth and for sensitive skin! Plus, it’s made with eucalyptus essential oil to help aid sleep and relieve coughs, congestion, and colds.
Bath time will be a win all around!
Sooner or later, you’re bound to have a baby cough on your hands. But with patience, some TLC, and the help of eucalyptus, you might be saying “sayonara” to that cough sooner than you think!
Bathe your little one in Eucalyptus Remedy™ Plant Based Shampoo, Bubble Bath and Wash and put your kids to bed with Eucalyptus Remedy™ Organic Soothing Chest Rub.
Easy breathing, here we come!