Decoding Baby Cough: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Baby Cough - What Causes Babies to Cough & How to Treat It

Babies cough a lot, especially during their first years. Cough in babies may resemble whooping, wheezing, sneezing, or even barking. The sound associated with cough in babies becomes too familiar to mothers since it is a frequent occurrence and results in increased anxiety as she tries to figure out what the problem will be.

A cough is a critical reflex action to encourage the clearing of the upper airways. The material coughed up maybe as a consequence of many conditions – from a lung or sinus infection to an accidentally inhaled foreign object (for example, food). A cough could sign some health conditions caused by a compromised lung function for example, wheezing or reflecting rare diseases anatomical malformations.

Most baby coughs are not an issue to ponder about as studies have shown that due to their average immune systems, babies are affected by an average of eight colds (common cold) a year, which has shown to be a common cause of cough in babies. Although a common cold is not the cause of all baby coughs, some indicate worse situations or illnesses such as pneumonia, whooping cough, etc. 

Baby cough can also be caused by allergies, asthma, irritations, respiratory illnesses, etc., and infections. Contained in this article are the causes, types, symptoms, preventive measures Andrew treats of baby cough for any parent to protect their little ones.

Causes of Baby Cough

Cough in babies is typically caused by the common cold, viral respiratory tract infections, and several other health conditions or ailments mentioned here. These conditions include;

Viral respiratory tract infections: This ailment reveals itself in the cold, croup, or flu and is the most typical cause of baby cough. Babies or infants do not have robust immune systems to fight against all the different germs and infections around their environment. 

This, therefore, keeps them open to all and every strain of cold and flu (over 200 known types) they come in contact with and results in illnesses. Studies have shown that an average baby gets up to eight colds in the first year of their lives, only on rare occasions where some get up to twelve.

Flu causes a severe dry cough, while cold causes a mild or moderate hacking cough, and croup causes a barking cough that occurs mostly at night accompanied by noisy breathing.


Asthma is classified as the second most typical cause of baby cough. It is a type of respiratory illness amongst young children that affects approximately one in four. It occurs when the lungs’ small air passages become narrower due to inflammation and swelling, which causes the body to secrete more mucus.

As a result of this, an asthmatic child will find it more difficult to breathe and develop a wheezing cough. This particular ailment can be treated, leading to a reduction in symptoms, and it also can be outgrown by so many children.


Allergy is the immune system’s disorder that causes adverse reactions to substances (allergens) not harmful to most individuals and marked by the body’s production of histamines. This may be environmental allergies such as pollens, dust mites, and mold present in the air.

Also Read:  How to Warm Breast Milk From Fridge : Do's & Don'ts

Although environmental allergies can affect infants and also come later at the toddler stage of the child, food allergies are also another form of allergy that affects children of all ages. It is a prevalent type of allergy. Allergies are hereditary. Therefore, the child will also be affected if a single parent or both parents are allergic to a particular substance.


Irritation results in nasty and persistent cough from environmental factors such as smoke, cold air, and pollution. These materials irritated the baby’s lungs and throat and resulted in a cough. It can also be experienced when a baby accidentally inhales a foreign object, such as strands of a dog’s hair or a small toy that gets caught up in the throat.

Bacteria Respiratory Tract Infection 

It is a rare cause of baby cough, which results in a nasty cough due to infection in the throat or chest. Babies outgrow this infection and, in rare cases, are treated by the doctor’s prescription of antibiotics. 

A whooping cough seems to be one significant infection of the respiratory tract caused by bacteria. Not only does this condition require proper treatment in the hospital, but it is quite contagious too. They are placed under strict treatment in the hospital for babies who are not six months of age. 

A Habit Cough 

After recovering from cold or flu, the baby may develop a habit cough that perseveres for months or even years to come. This habit cough, also called somatic cough, tic cough, or psychogenic cough, occasionally occurs in babies and mostly in children that are up to school ages.

Symptoms of Baby Cough

The symptoms associated with a particular cough depend on the cause, which influences the sound produced when coughing. With this tip, a parent can get an idea of what is causing the child’s cough, although it is necessary and best to consult a doctor. Here are specific symptoms associated with the different causal agents of a baby’s cough.

Common Cold or Flu 

Common cold or flu is a symptom of viral respiratory cough. The cough sounds loose and may cause the baby to cough out mucus. This symptom is on the increase at night as mucus drips from the child’s throat and mouth while he lays down. The flu stops after a few days, but the cough continues for several weeks and is termed post-viral cough.


Symptoms of this include a wheezing sound, which is accompanied by difficulty in breathing and shortness of breath. Asthmatic coughs increase in intensity at night and after exercise in toddlers and children. It isn’t easy to diagnose. Wheezing-like cough is common among babies and children and does not signify asthma from the onset. The asthma symptoms could worsen, as the struggle to breathe, distress, limping, sucking movement from each breath.

Bacteria Respiratory Tract Infection (BRTI): Its symptoms include; Severe flu-like mucus that later develops into persistently and a violent cough. A whooping sound as your baby breathes out and a Barking sound as your baby breathes out is a sign of whooping cough resulting from asthma and even BRTI.

Also Read:  Breastfeeding vs. Formula Feeding: How Similar are They?

Prevention of Baby Cough

  • There are some practical ways parents can prevent their baby from having a cough or having a severe cough. These measures include;
  • For asthmatic babies and those with some allergies, ensure you take note and stick to the treatment plan.
  • Avoid people that smoke (irritants)
  • Reduce exposure to allergens.
  • Provision of a balanced diet to Foster the immune system of the kids.
  • Avoid people who have a cold to prevent the common cold.
  • Ensure your child receives diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine and/or combination booster (Tdap) on time because it is a vaccine against severe cough. Teach your kids to cough or sneeze into their elbow.
  • Wash your kids’ hands well and frequently.

Treatment of Baby Cough

Treating any disease or infirmity in children, especially infants and toddlers, requires extra carefulness and diligence since they are almost fragile and with a weak immune system. Please note that the treatment of cough depends on the cause. The following are some steps to treat baby cough.

  • Give your child a dose of children ibuprofen and Tylenol, which provides relief. After this, you can seek your doctor.
  • Giving the baby honey (one spoonful) right before bedtime would work the magic. Honey provides relief to the throat and alleviates sore throat. However, this mode of treatment may not seem suitable for children below 12 months.
  • Bulb aspirators and nasal saline drops can work perfectly for a runny nose, especially for children who cannot blow their nose.
  • Warm water, tea without caffeine or juice can serve perfectly well for the tickle at the back of the throat, reducing coughing.
  • If the common cold or flu causes the cough, there is no need to panic because the system has a way of working it out without much intervention. Therefore there is no specific treatment for cough caused by the common cold.
  • Cough caused by asthma is treated with a wide range of therapy and treatments after diagnosis through the lung function test. Treatments include the use of inhaler Ventolin in tablet form or inhaler form.
  • An allergy-related cough is best treated by knowing the cause of the allergy. This is best done by taking records of the symptoms and presenting them to an allergist who will then find the reason and advise you on keeping your child away from allergic materials.
  • Cough caused by bacteria respiratory tract infections need strong and efficient medical attention. In most cases, after diagnosis, the doctor prescribed certain antibiotics, which causes great relief. Whooping cough threatens the life of your child and needs urgent hospitalization.
  • A habit cough does not have a particular prescribed cure because it is psychological rather than physical. However, this cough goes away by itself as the baby grows.
  • Coughing in babies necessitates excellent care and attention from parents because kids do not have an immune system as strong as adults. The immune systems’ weakness is the primary cause of cough, including the common cold, flu, allergies, asthma, allergies, irritations, etc. Baby coughs can be treated and easily prevented.

You May Like Other Guides

Stay Tuned for best Parenting Guides!

We keep our reviews Updated so you get best!

footer JF logo