Is Newborn Cough Normal and When Is It Time to Call the Doctor?

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Many new parents probably notice that their newborn coughs a lot or at least occasionally. Is newborn cough normal at all? Or should you be worried and call your doctor right away?

It can get pretty concerning when your little one is showing some signs that you’re not used to, or at least it’s something you don’t consider as normal such as a cough or frequent sneezing. But at the same time, you need to distinguish the difference between a condition that requires medical attention and just a typical occurrence among babies that is not at all a cause of worry on your part.

Okay, back to coughing among newborns and babies… Is this normal?!


Newborn Cough Normal? Why It Happens

Coughs are one of the most typical symptoms of various illnesses among kids including babies and newborns. These medical conditions include the flu and colds, and it’s common to hear your little one letting out a cough or lots of it when she’s suffering from these illnesses. But it does not always mean that just because she coughs, she’s sick.

In fact, coughing may even mean a positive thing. I can even help in protecting the chest airways and throat of your baby, so it’s a reflex that doesn’t always signal anything bad. At the same time, there are also instances when your baby coughs because of an irritation in either the throat or the lungs.

When babies sneeze and cough, this only means they’re trying to clear the nasal passages of an irritant whether its dust in the air or maybe even to move saliva or mucus right out of the throat. Without this reflex, how can they clear their airways? So if you hear a tiny cough that does not really happen too often, there’s no need to be alarmed.

When Is Coughing Not Normal Among Newborns?

We have already established the fact that coughing may mean everything is normal with your child and that she’s only trying to eliminate something irritating that invaded her throat or airways. But should there be anything about coughing that could cause you to worry?

Yes. There are instances when coughing is no longer normal and your child is not simply moving mucus or trying to spit it out. Coughs that signal the presence of a medical condition do not happen just occasionally. When your baby’s cough has been going on for three weeks or more, then something needs to be done.

This is already considered a chronic condition since it has been persisting and not going away. So moms and dads, if your baby is coughing for a month, you have to do something about it…

A chronic cough is caused by a number of conditions such as pertussis or a whooping cough, tuberculosis, and a respiratory syncytial virus. These are infectious diseases that your child could have contracted from someone with these ailments. 

There are also causes of a cough that is noninfectious in nature including asthma, congenital anomalies, cystic fibrosis, and gastroesophageal reflux. Babies may cough, too, because of their frequent exposure to or breathing cigarette smoke.

Since there are various causes of a long-term cough, it is very important that you visit your child’s pediatrician to have her evaluated. 

Getting Treatment for Newborn Cough - What You Can Do

Supposing the cough has been around for weeks and it does not seem to be getting any better. Now this is the time you consult the doctor for medical advice and treatment. And at this point, you may be wondering if it’s safe to give your infant some cough medicine, just like how you do it to yourself.

Don’t even go down that road. This is not a recommended solution for a newborn cough, so avoid giving her any. What you can do instead is to provide a more natural treatment option such as using a humidifier producing a cool mist in the nursery. This will help in making her breathe with ease throughout the night or day. You may also consider laying your baby down in an elevated position by propping the head a little with a few more pillows. 

But there are situations that require more than a home remedy. You need to check your baby’s temperature. Newborns with a body temperature of more than 100.5 degrees F may mean they have a fever. Other symptoms that require a prompt medical attention include some trouble breathing, a bluish color of the face or lips, breathing is shorter and quicker than normal, and your baby has no appetite.

If any or all of these symptoms are present in your child, then don’t even think twice. You need to see the pediatrician the soonest possible. Your doctor will discuss with you what these symptoms are happening while at the same time conducting a physical exam to further check your child’s condition. 

Do’s and Don’ts in Treating Your Child’s Cough at Home

Home treatment and remedy for a newborn’s cough are intended to keep them comfortable. You should never attempt to do anything unless prescribed by your doctor. 

Things that you can do, which are relatively safe and helpful to your child include providing a good amount of liquids such as water, breast milk, and formula. You can also use a firm pillow to keep the baby’s head slightly elevated to promote ease in breathing. A suction bulb or saline drops also help your child who’s suffering from a cough.

But no matter what, never give your child antibiotics if the cause of a cough is not viral. Over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol or similar ones designed to ease the fever are not ideal for children who are not even 3 months of age. The only time you MAY give them these medications is when your pediatrician prescribes these. Otherwise, just stick with humidifiers and other natural solutions for a cough.

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