What's the Treatment for Croup?

Medically Reviewed by Amita Shroff, MD on July 30, 2023
2 min read

Croup can be uncomfortable and unsettling for your little one. The cough and other symptoms can range from mild to severe. Most mild cases of this condition can actually be treated at home. Here are four ways to make your baby more comfortable if they have croup.

Keep them calm. Croup causes your little one’s airways to get inflamed and narrow. This can make it hard for them to breathe. But the more they cry and the more worked-up they get, the worse their symptoms will become. Try to keep your baby as calm as possible. Sing to them, cuddle with them, and read them 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 their cough. If it’s cool outside, open a door or window for a few minutes. Fresh, cool air may calm their symptoms, too. You might even take your baby for a car ride with the windows rolled down.

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

Keep their head elevated. Prop up your little one’s head with an extra pillow when they turn 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 they start having breathing problems.

If you take your child to the doctor or emergency department, they may be given mist treatment and a single dose of a glucocorticoid medication such as dexamethasone or prednisolone, which are usually given as an oral syrup. The medication reduces inflammation.




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

  • Makes a noisy, high-pitched sound when they breathe 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 they breathe
  • Is very tired, sleepy, or hard to awaken
  • Turns bluish or dark around their lips, under their nose, mouth, or around their fingernails
  • Is dehydrated with few wet diapers