How to Treat Croup in Babies and Toddlers

Last night, I was awoken by the old familiar barking cough from my baby, Ezra. I cringe when I hear this high-pitched cough. It honestly sounds like someone has replaced your sweet baby with a seal… an angry seal. I went into his room and picked him up and he was burning up.  He had had a slight runny nose before I put him to bed but otherwise has been just fine. Croup usually sneaks up on you like that. With my kids, they seem to be feeling okay and then halfway through the night, I start hearing the cough. It can be very scary to deal with so I rounded up some great information about croup as well as my tips on how to treat croup at home.

*** I am not a doctor and you should always seek medical advise from your pediatrician in you have a sick child. If your child is having a hard time breathing or is blue around the mouth and lips, call 911


What is Croup?

Croup is a viral infection that affects the airway and vocal chords and causes them to swell. It often begins as a typical cold. The more your child coughs, the more irritated the area becomes and soon, the you will notice a loud barking cough. Your child may also develop a hoarse or raspy voice, fever, and noisy breathing.  Croup is more common in fall and early winter. Children under five are more likely to develop croup.

Symptoms of Croup

  • a barking cough (that usually sounds worse at night)
  • hoarse voice
  • labored breathing
  • fever (most of the time


When to Seek Medical Attention

  • if you child makes a noisy, high pitched breathing sound when breathing in or out (doctors call this stridor)
  • your child starts drooling or having a hard time swallowing
  • your child is anxious, agitated, has no energy or is listless
  • your child turns blue or gray around her mouth, nose or fingernails
  • your child struggles to breath


How to Treat Croup at Home

  • keep your child calm and comfortable, if they get worked up, breathing becomes more difficult
  • use a cool mist humidifier  (I use this one) or if it is cold outside, wrap your child up and take them outside for a few minutes and let them breathe in the cold air
  • run a hot shower and let the bathroom steam up and then sit in the bathroom with your child and let them breathe the moist air
  • continually offer your child fluids
  • if you have an older toddler or young child, keeping their head elevated while sleeping will help (Do not elevate the head of a baby)
  • even if my child has a mild case of croup, I always call and talk to the nurse at my pediatricians office. She will let me know what to watch for and answer any questions  I may have
  • you can always take your child in to see the doctor. They can prescribe a steroid to help treat your child.


Good Luck Mama’s. Croup is never fun and can be extremely scary.

When in doubt, see a doctor.


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