What's the Treatment for Croup?

Croup can be uncomfortable and unsettling for your little one. But most mild cases of this condition can actually be treated at home. Here are four ways to make your baby more comfortable if she has croup.

Keep her calm. Croup causes your little one’s airways to get inflamed and narrow. This can make it hard for her to breathe. But the more she cries and the more worked-up she gets, the worse her symptoms will become. Try to keep your baby as calm as possible. Sing to her, cuddle with her, and read her stories.

Moisten the air. Use a cool-mist humidifier to moisten dry air. If you don’t have a humidifier, run a hot shower in your bathroom. Once the air is nice and steamy, sit in the bathroom with your baby for 10 minutes. It may help quell her cough. If it’s cool outside, open a door or window for a few minutes. Fresh, cool air may calm her symptoms, too. You might even take your baby for a car ride with the windows rolled down.

Give her fluids. It’s important to keep your baby hydrated if she has croup. Warm, clear fluids can help loosen mucus and take pressure off her vocal cords. If she’s very young or really cranky, give her small amounts of fluid using a spoon or medicine dropper.

Keep her head elevated. Prop up your little one’s head with an extra pillow when she turns in at night. But don’t use pillows with babies under 12 months of age. You might also consider sleeping in the same room with your child so you can know right away if she starts having breathing problems.

When to Call the Doctor

If your child’s symptoms last more than 3 to 5 days or get worse, don’t try to treat her at home. Get medical help right away if your child:

  • Makes a noisy, high-pitched sound when she breathes in (doctors call this “stridor”)
  • Starts drooling or has trouble swallowing
  • Is constantly cranky, irritable, or uncomfortable
  • Has very hard, labored breathing
  • Has neck or chest muscles that “pull in” when she breathes
  • Is very tired, sleepy, or hard to awaken
  • Turns bluish or dark around her lips, under her nose, mouth, or around her fingernails
  • Is dehydrated with few wet diapers
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Amita Shroff, MD on May 17, 2019



Mayo Clinic: “Croup”

KidsHealth.org: “Croup”

UptoDate: “Patient education: Croup in Infants and Children (Beyond the Basics).”

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