Coughing is a way the body uses to clear its airways, rid the throat of phlegm, remove stuck food pieces and nasal mucus. A baby’s cough can, therefore, mean a lot of things. This makes it hard to decide whether to walk straight to the emergency room, call the doctor for advice or just book an appointment.

A baby’s cough can be either wet or dry. Dry coughs occur when the baby develops allergies or a cold while a wet cough is due to respiratory illness accompanying a bacterial infection.

When a child is older than one year, coughs are less alarming, but for children below four months, coughs require urgent care.

According to NBC news this year we expect the worst flue session. To help determine which coughs require immediate medical attention.Here are clues that will help caregivers decode different coughs.

Common cold/Flu

Signs that a baby’s cough indicates a cold include:

  • A runny nose
  • A sore throat
  • The cough is dry
  • Rattling mucus
  • Slight fever at night


  • Stick to natural methods such as saline drops, honey and a cool mist humidifier for children over one year.
  • Immediately contact the doctor if a baby who is four months and below shows any signs of fever.

Foreign object

If the baby starts coughing suddenly while eating or playing with toys, look into his mouth. The baby can also cough the foreign object out.


  • a small persistent cough
  • gasping


  • Turn the baby over and immediately give five gentle back blows between their shoulder blades.
  • If the object has completely blocked the baby’s airway, they may make no sound at all or start to turn pale. Call 911 immediately.


Pneumonia is a bacterial or viral infection of the lungs that can result from the Common cold.

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Signs that a baby’s cough indicates pneumonia include:

  • A cough that is wet and phlegmy
  • Fatigue
  • Cough residue in green and yellow
  • Fever


  • Depends on whether the cause is bacterial or viral.
  • Viral pneumonia does not respond to antibiotics, so treatment is limited to rest and fluid intake.
  • Doctors usually prescribe antibiotics for bacterial pneumonia.


Signs that a baby has croup includes:

  • A barking cough
  • Difficulty breathing


  • It should clear in 3-4 days. If it does not contact the doctor.

Whooping Cough

Whooping cough is a life-threatening bacterial infection.

Signs that the baby’s cough indicates whooping cough:

  • A loud rapid whoop
  • Frequent alarming coughing spams
  • Tongue sticks out
  • Bulging eyes and face discoloration


  • Make sure the baby receives the three doses of the vaccine.
  • Seek urgent medical care.


A cough associated with asthma and bronchitis are quite similar it is hard to tell them apart without a proper medical diagnosis. According to the asthma can affect childbirth if not well managed.

Signs that a baby’s cough indicates bronchitis or asthma include:

  • A cough followed by wheezing.


  • Monitor the baby’s respiratory rate. If it gets to 50 breaths per minute or more, call 911.