When to Call A Doctor for Cough in Baby

It can be a difficult moment for a parent to see their baby go down with a cough. To compound it, it can be somewhat overwhelming and scary if you have no idea whether to raise the alarm or not. If you have no idea whether a cough is life-threatening or it’s a day thing, and soon it will be gone, it becomes the most trying moment for a mother, especially new ones.

That should not be the case though. It should never be a tough one for you to know whether a cough needs immediate action. This, however, does not mean you should pass some coughs as a simple cold and end up endangering the life of your kid. It is crucial to learn the simple basics that tell when to call a doctor.

The list below gives you clues on when to call a doctor or simply what to do to identify a cough’s intensity. Please note that the tips are not conclusive and that every instance should be treated singly, and proper medical attention should be sought. If a cough does not appear to be a normal one, the basic thing to do is to consult your physician without delay.

A Wet and Productive Cough

If your child has a wet cough with some mucus running down the back of their throat, you should not wait to call a doctor. This usually happens at night and might give the kid a hard time trying to find some sleep. Also known as a postnasal drip, it is accompanied by a runny nose. The cause of this type of a cough is an infection such as pneumonia, cold, or sinusitis as well as allergies.

Dry and Raspy Coughing

This cough is associated with an irritation within the child’s airways. It is accompanied by some whistling when the baby coughs and will have difficulties breathing with a rapid and irritable breath.

This is a cough caused by an infection of the bronchioles, allergen or other irritants. Such irritants include smoke, dust, and pollen. The cough produces little or no mucus but should never be ignored.

A Barking Cough

If your baby is giving some cough sounds like a barking seal, you should take action instantly. The barking cough makes it difficult for them to breath and is common between October and March in most regions.

A barking cough is a viral illness and usually worsens at night. The child’s airways are inflamed or constricted due to an inflammation of the tracheal lining. It is detected when the baby tries to inhale and lasts between three to four days. If it doesn’t go away, you should not hesitate to call the doctor.

Coughing Accompanied by Wheezing

If your baby coughs and you can hear some wheezing, you should never postpone seeing a doctor. The reason for the cough could be asthma or bronchiolitis and might escalate if not treated. The coughing, in this case, is identifiable by the child trying to clear some mucus out of their airways or getting a postnasal drip.

A Cough Followed by A Whoop

If you can hear some whoop when your baby coughs, it could be a sign of a whooping cough and a doctor’s doorstep should be your next landing. It is as a result of a bacterial infection called pertussis. In this case, the baby literary coughs all the air out of their lungs then takes a deep breath.

Other Signs that You Need to See A Doctor

There are other tell-tale signs that you should take your child to the doctor if they start coughing. Although most childhood coughs should last for a short while and should not worry you much, there is a need to be extra cautious. You should, therefore, call a doctor if your child:

  • Is breathing more quickly than the norm.
  • Has trouble breathing or is struggling to breathe.
  • Has a blue or dusky colour on the lips, face, or tongue.
  • Has fever especially if less than three months old.
  • Has high fever and coughs without signs of a runny or stuffy nose.
  • Is coughing up blood.
  • Makes a whooping sound when breathing in.
  • Has a musical sound when breathing in.
  • Makes a wheezing sound when breathing out (unless you have an asthma care plan from a doctor).
  • Appears dehydrated after some coughs.
  • Is cranky, weak, or getting irritated by a cough


The best of all the ways of identifying a cough is by listening. Since you are with your child most of the time, this will be an easy task for you, unless they spend a lot of time away from you. However, if you can identify an unusual tread with their cough or any of the above signs, you should not hesitate to see a doctor. All in all, make sure your child is safe from cough causing elements. Things as cold air, pets, smoke, and allergens should be kept at bay or avoided at all costs.

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