There’s nothing worse than hearing your little one struggle with a cough all night. But as a parent, this is something you’ll likely encounter many times, since the
But as a parent, this is something you’ll likely encounter many times, since the common cold is one of the most communicable illnesses in babies and young children.
Interested in learning how to care for your coughing baby? Then read on as we explore some of the best ways so both you and your baby can get some rest.
Best Ways to Care For a Coughing Baby
Being sick can take quite a toll on your baby, especially since their immune systems are still developing at this time. One of the best ways to treat a coughing baby is rest.
It sounds simple, but a well-rested baby will be better equipped to fight off a cold. Feel free to put on their favorite movie or show, or spend some time reading to your child.
By avoiding allergens from outside, your baby’s immune system can focus on healing.
The next time your baby’s cough flares up, use a humidifier or cold mist vaporizer in their bedroom.
By adding moisture to the air, these devices help to soothe coughing and ease congestion. This is especially helpful if you happen to live in a dry climate.
For safety purposes, it’s recommended that you use a cool-mist humidifier for babies and young children. But according to medical experts, both cool-mist and warm-mist humidifiers are equally effective.
To keep your humidifier clean and safe for use, be sure to clean and empty the tank daily so that bacteria can’t build up. And it’s always a safe bet to use distilled or purified water instead of regular tap water.
Regular hydration is crucial when caring for your coughing baby. Make sure you’re giving your baby fluids every hour in order to help loosen mucus.
For babies who are six months or younger, it’s best to stick with breast milk or baby formula.
When you were a child you probably remember being slathered with this fragrant cream whenever you had a cold, but this classic method actually does work.
In fact, in a recent medical study, vapor rub was shown to improve children’s cough, congestion, and sleep difficulty. The blend of camphor and eucalyptus helps open airway passages, allowing your baby to breathe easier.
Make sure you’re using a vapor rub formula that’s safe for babies, and it should only be used on babies over two years old.
Elevate With Pillows
One of the main causes of a constant, tickling cough is from mucus irritating the throat. To help your coughing baby, you can elevate their mattress by stacking a few pillows under one end of their mattress.
You can also build a wedge by stacking several pillows under your baby’s head so that he or she can sleep at an angle. This will ensure your baby lays upright, preventing mucus from dripping into their throat.
Just like with air humidifiers, the warm, steamy air from a bath can help soothe your coughing baby. To begin, let the shower run for a few minutes with the door closed, letting the room get moist and warm.
Afterwards, give your baby a short bath. This will not only allow your baby to play and relax, but the warm steam in the room can help loosen mucus and ease congestion.
Lightly patting your baby on the back, also known as the “percussion technique,” can help dislodge stubborn mucus. Most babies have difficulty coughing up mucus on their own, so this method will give them a little boost.
To do this, use a cupped hand with your thumb remaining straight and first practice by tapping your own skin. It should produce a hollow sound, rather than a slapping sound.
Once you have the technique down, lightly pat your baby’s clothed back, not on their bare skin.
This technique is often used by parents of children who have cystic fibrosis, and it’s a great way to clear the lungs of mucus. Be sure to consult with your doctor so you’re using the correct method.
Babies can’t blow their noses on their own, but you can help your little one out with a bulb syringe to remove excess mucus. When used with a saline solution, this is even more effective.
To create your own saline solution, mix about one-quarter teaspoon of salt into one cup of distilled water. Insert a few drops of the solution into your baby’s nostrils, and let it sit for about a minute.
Afterward, use the bulb syringe to suck out the solution and mucus. Removing excess mucus allows your baby to breathe better, and prevents more mucus from pooling in the throat, which can lead to more coughing.
Chicken soup is a timeless method of battling the common cold, but it’s not just a comfort food. Warm liquids are a proven way of relieving congestion for your coughing baby.
The use of warm liquids when dealing with symptoms related to colds is even backed by science. In a medical study, sipping hot water and hot chicken soup increased nasal mucus velocity when compared to cold liquids.
This is especially helpful if your baby is having difficulty breathing because of nasal congestion. For babies who are six months or older, feel free to use warm water, natural chamomile tea, or apple juice.
If your baby is still getting accustomed to solid foods, warm broth is a good alternative instead of soup.
Honey has been used since ancient times for its multitude of health benefits, one of which is its ability to soothe the throat. While young babies should never be given honey, babies who are 12 months or older will enjoy this natural treatment option.
To prepare a honey treatment for your coughing baby, spoon out some honey into a microwave-safe container, and briefly microwave it so the honey softens. You can also put the container of honey in hot water for about 10 minutes.
Then, administer about one teaspoon of honey to your baby. For an added boost of vitamin C, add in a squirt of lemon. This can also help your baby’s immune system.
In addition to honey, ginger is an effective way to naturally treat a coughing baby. Because of its strong taste, the addition of honey will make this treatment option more palatable for your baby.
To prepare a ginger treatment, mix one-fourth teaspoon of crushed or grated ginger with a tablespoon of honey. Add in about two tablespoons of water until you achieve a syrupy consistency.
Administer two tablespoons to your coughing baby for best results. Natural treatments like these are recommended for babies who are at least 12 months old.
Milk and Turmeric
For symptoms associated with the common cold, turmeric and milk are another natural treatment option, especially for whooping cough.
Likewise, turmeric’s antiseptic qualities have been shown to be helpful in treating viral infections.
To whip up a milk-and-turmeric concoction, simply add turmeric powder to a glass of warm milk. This treatment option is best for babies who are two years or older.
Check for Acid Reflux
Adults aren’t the only ones who suffer from acid reflux. If your baby doesn’t have a cold or illness, but is still coughing, it might be a sign of acid reflux.
This can have several causes, but in general, it is due to stomach contents backing up into the throat.
Besides coughing, symptoms associated with acid reflux in infants and babies include the following: wheezing after feeding, irritability, feeding difficulties, and trouble gaining weight.
The treatment options vary based on the specific cause of the type of acid reflux your baby is suffering from. To find the best treatment option for your coughing baby, it’s always best to consult with your doctor.
Lactose has been known to cause coughing and phlegm in people suffering from lactose intolerance. If your coughing baby doesn’t have a cold or illness, you might want to consider the coughing is a sign of lactose intolerance.
Baby care isn’t always a one-size-fits-all approach, so sometimes you have to explore your options to see what’s best for your child’s unique needs. Luckily, there are many high-quality, lactose-free baby formula options for mothers who don’t breastfeed.
Call a Doctor
Sometimes, at-home treatments just don’t cut it. But how do you know when to call the doctor? Listen carefully to how your baby is coughing, and observe how he or she is acting.
If your coughing baby is very sleepy or listless, that should be an alarm sign. Generally, babies and young children can be sleepy or irritable when sick, but if your baby is exhibiting signs of extreme fatigue, then a call to the doctor might be necessary.
Likewise, if this is accompanied by a wet and phlegmy cough with green or yellow sputum, this can be a sign of pneumonia, or a viral or bacterial infection.
Dealing with a coughing baby is difficult for any parent, but with these home-treatment options, your little one can get the rest and comfort they need. What’s your favorite method of treating a coughing baby?