Croup in Babies: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and More

Does your newborn have an extremely deep and hoarse baby cough, heavy breathing or crowing noise while inhaling? These may also be accompanied with a mild fever and a very hoarse voice. If you are noticing these symptoms in your child, it is possible that he/she may have croup. In the beginning , croup can seem extremely scary for parents, but it is important to know that it can be treated. There are more than 1 million cases of croup reported in India per year.


Read on for some more information on this condition.

What is Croup?

Croup, also known as laryngotracheobronchitis, is an upper airway viral infection that blocks breathing and causes a bark- like distinctive cough. Croup virus in babies causes the windpipe and voice box to swell which makes it difficult for the baby to breathe. Croup in babies under 3 months occurs mostly in winters and can be recognized as the cough sounds worse than it should.


It is important for parents of newborn children to be informed about causes, treatments and symptoms as occurance of croup in babies under 6 months is common. Croup does not occur frequently in older kids, as the size of their windpipe increases with age and physical development over the years

There are two types of croup- viral and spasmodic. Viral croup is the more common type and is caused due to a virus known as parainfluenza virus. Spasmodic croup is caused due to an allergy or the reflux of the stomach.

What are the Causes of Croup?

It is extremely vital for parents to understand what causes croup in children to be able to take appropriate precautions to avert it.

  • Viral Infection: The most common cause of croup are viruses; but, it can also be caused by allergies, bacteria and reflux from the tummy. There are multiple viruses that cause croup, but the most common virus is called parainfluenza. Some other viruses that may cause croup include respiratory syncytial virus(RSV), influenza virus, measles, adenovirus and enteroviruses.
  • This infection starts in the upper respiratory tract and spreads slowly. Smaller babies are more affected by this condition as their airways are very small. This mean, a little bit of swelling can lead to obstruction in the airway.
  • Contact with an infected person: A child may also contract the disease if he/she comes in contact someone who is already affected by it. Since it is a respiratory infection, it is mostly contagious.

Common Sign & Symptoms of Croup

Croup starts like any other cold and that’s why initially it may become slightly difficult to differentiate and identify. However, soon what looks like a normal stuffy/runny nose and a fever may turn out to be something more severe. The most common signs and symptoms of croup are as follows:

  • Runny nose
  • Chest Congestion
  • Hoarse baby cough
  • A cough develops into a “seal’s bark” (also known as croup barking cough)
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Eye redness
  • Rashes
  • Fever
  • Stridor or a high-pitched sound that is mostly noticed as the child breathes in or out.

Symptoms of common cold can either precede or linger after croup Additionally, there are some signs that are indicative of severity of the condition and requires immediate medical attention. These may include the following:

  • If the baby’s airway is obstructed, he/she will look worried nd disturbed, won’t show interest in playing or other activities and will constantly try to get air.
  • The child will also not be able to sleep or lie down and will constantly sit up and cough.
  • The dent right above the breastbone will cave with each breadth.

Can Croup be Contagious?

Yes, a child can get infected by this virus through direct contact with someone who is infected. Additionally, secretions from an infected person can be contagious and that’s why proper precautionary measures must always be taken. Besides, ensure hygiene is maintained at all times.

How Long Does It Take For Croup To Go Away?

Baby Croup and how long does it last? This is a common question that plagues parents. Croup usually lasts for three to seven days but there is a possibility that it can last for two weeks depending on the severity. It generally peaks on the second or third night and during this time, you should continue to find ways to calm and relieve the baby. The symptoms of cold and flu might linger and leave the baby, and you tired.

How To Diagnose Croup?

Physical examination is the most common method to diagnose a croup. Doctors observe the child’s breathing, uses a stethoscope to examine it, along with the child’s throat. X-rays are also conducted to rule out the possibility of any other disease or condition. Sometimes, when an in-clinic visit is not possible, the doctor may listen to the breathing and cough over phone for the right diagnosis.

Treatment For Croup

Treatment of croup in babies depends on multiple parameters that include the child’s overall health and well-being, medical history, age, extent of and seriousness of the disease as well as the child’s tolerance/allergies to particular medicines.

To understand how to treat croup cough in babies it is important you are equipped with all the pre-requisite knowledge. In case the infection is severe, hospitalisation may be considered, especially if your child has to be monitored at all times.

There are four types of medical treatments that can be followed to treat croup:

  • Breathing treatments to open the airway and increase the in and out flow of air
  • Injecting medication to reduce the swelling of the airways
  • Use of steroid, oral or through the mouth medication to reduce the swelling
  • In some instances, a breathing tube may be inserted into the child’s windpipe.

Home Remedies to Ease the Symptoms of Croup

A majority of croup cases can be treated at home by using natural remedies. Some home remedies for croup in babies include:

  • Keep your child calm: Crying and agitation can only lead to an increase in the obstruction of the airway and can result into complications. Croup can frighten a child and crying can lead to worsening the stridor(the harsh sound). How to cure croup in babies is to make them sit upright in your own lap, sing soft lullabies and read to them so that they are calm. Breastfeeding also acts like a pacifier in such a situation
  • Humidity and steam always help in clearing the air passage and to ease the breathing process. . Steam up your bathroom and sit with your child in your lap. There should be an immediate improvement in the next ten to fifteen minutes
  • Use a cool mist humidifier or vaporiser for inhalation of the cool mist. Once you let the mist near the child to promote easy breathing, you are sure to see an improvement. You can use a hot vaporiser but it should not be brought too close to the baby.
  • Consult a doctor for treating the fever.
  • Finally, offer fluids and encourage rest at all times.

These are some home remedies for croup cough in infants. The child’s cough may improve during the day but come back at night. If this situation persists, it is time to visit a doctor.

Can Croup Be Prevented?

There is no current vaccination for croup, however avoiding exposures to contaminated objects, and prevention from contagious sneezing and coughing can prevent croup.

When to Call a Doctor?

If you are concerned that your child’s croup is not improving, your child is probably suffering from croup with stridor. If you feel the child is getting worse, even after the above-mentioned treatments, it’s time to call a doctor. Additionally, if you see you child breathless or turning pale, it’s time to rush him/her to the emergency room.

Thus, croup can be treated at home but you must take precautions to guard against an infection. Babies tend to feel uneasy when affected, so ensure that they stay healthy and are monitored at all times.