Coughing with the baby: Where he comes from and what you can do

The cough is an important protective reflex, which should free the respiratory tract. We explain in our guide why coughing is not uncommon in babies and toddlers and what measures can help toddlers with severe coughing.

Coughing in babies and toddlers is quite common and in most cases harmless. The rapid and strong expulsion of air during coughing is intended to free the airways from foreign bodies and secretions. If, for example, the child has swallowed food while eating, the cough will push the food from the trachea upwards again. On the other hand, increased secretion, which can occupy the respiratory tract, is mainly caused by illnesses.

Baby has a cough

Cough as a symptom of disease

The immune system of babies and toddlers has yet to develop. Unfortunately, babies are therefore very susceptible to viral and bacterial infections such as colds. In the course of these diseases, the body produces more secretions in order to flush out the pathogens. This mucus then spreads to the respiratory tract and has to be coughed up. Coughing not only keeps the airways clear, but also carries germs out of the body.

baby cold

Tips to relieve coughing in babies

Coughing is therefore important and should not be suppressed per se. But frequent and persistent coughing robs children of strength and sleep. We will therefore give you tips on how to make it easier for your child to cough and breathe gently:

  • Drink a lot: Make sure that your baby drinks a lot, because this not only liquefies the mucus so that it can be coughed up better, but also moistens the mucous membranes. For example, elderberry tea is particularly beneficial for a cold: pour 0.2 l boiling water over a teaspoon of flowers, leave to stand for 10 minutes, strain and cool to drinking temperature with the bottle. Fennel tea* is also suitable for coughing.
  • Fresh air: A lot of fresh air is good for coughing. So if your child doesn’t have a fever, wrap him up warm and take him for regular walks.
  • Humidity: Ensure higher humidity in the baby room: Simply hang wet cloths near the bed or move the clothes horse with moist laundry into the children’s room. Parents can also take the little patients to the bathroom, turn on the hot water tap and stay in the warm and humid air of the steam bath they have built themselves for a quarter of an hour. Caution is called for with electronic air humidifiers, because these can distribute the pathogens additionally in the room if in doubt. So be sure to pay attention to the quality and meticulous hygiene of these devices.
  • Special storage: To make it easier for the little ones to sleep, slide a flat cushion or a folded towel under the mattress of the cot. So the head is higher. The baby can cough more easily and gets better air.
  • Quarkwickel: This household remedy is suitable for babies aged six months and over. Heat approx. 50 to 100 grams of low-fat curd cheese in a water bath to body temperature. Then put it on a cotton cloth and let it drip off. Now spread the quark on another cotton cloth, fold it up and keep it warm, for example with a hot-water bottle. Now place the quark cloth on your baby’s chest. To prevent your baby from freezing, cover it with towels and a blanket. The curd should now work for at least 20 minutes. It has a relaxing, expectorant, cough-quenching and decongestant effect.
  • Cough syrups and medications: Please only in consultation with your pediatrician! Special cough syrups are available for babies and toddlers at the pharmacy, as children are more sensitive to certain herbs and compounds than adults. Therefore you should not treat your baby with essential oils!

Preventing a cold: 15 tips

When should you go to the doctor with a coughing baby?

If your baby’s cough has no more serious causes, it will go away on its own after a few days. However, to make sure that it is not asthma, bronchitis or (pseudo-)croup, you should always consult a doctor if your child coughs or has a fever for more than two days. You should contact a doctor immediately if your baby shows signs of shortness of breath when coughing (pulling noise when inhaling, grey skin, blue lips), has a bloody sputum and his general condition worsens.

By the way: Since the closing mechanism of the stomach in babies and toddlers is not yet fully developed, they sometimes choke and vomit during severe coughing fits. This is not unusual and does not require immediate medical attention. However, if the child vomits frequently when coughing over a long period of time, you should have the pediatrician check him for whooping cough.

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