Before going through this page, please check the ‘How do I know when my baby is ill?’ page. Click the blue link to go there now.
CALL 999 if any of the following are present
- Your child is having difficulty breathing
- Your child’s lips are tinged blue
- There was a fit of coughing after some food like bread or peanuts going ‘down the wrong way’.
CALL 111 OR SEE YOUR EMERGENCY GP if any of the following are present
- Your child vomits after a bout a coughing with a whooping noise. In this case, it could be whooping cough (also known as Pertussis). Give paracetamol (like Calpol) and put a bowl of water in the room to humidify the air. Call 111 for more advise. See video at the bottom of this page to learn more about Whooping Cough.
- There is blood in their phlegm ( phlegm is also known as mucus, sputum or cough spit).
IF NONE OF THE ABOVE APPLY…
Colds & Flu
Generally, children who cough because they have caught a cold or the flu will also have one or more of the following
- a runny nose
- sore throat
- some general aches and pains
- and a small fever (less that 38 C/100F). You can buy an infant/child’s thermometer from your local pharmacist. They are relatively cheap and always worth having.
If this is the case, it is safe to manage this problem yourself at home. Your child probably has a cold or flu. Ask your pharmacist for advice (find your nearest pharmacist). Please do not go to your GP purely for antibiotics, because antibiotics do not work against viral illnesses like coughs and colds. Antibiotics also have side effects (like diarrhoea) and this may make things worse. But by all means go to your GP if your child looks quite poorly, or is miserable, or isn’t drinking much, or isn’t passing much urine, or has a bad fever or has spots.
If you don’t think your child needs to see a GP, here are some other things you can do…
- Give the child extra fluids to drink
- Avoid a smoky atmosphere.
- A good home remedy is 1 teaspoon of honey in a small glass of warm water.
- Babies often manage better if they sit up.
- Stay with the child if you are using a warm humid environment such as a bathroom with the shower on (not recommended for asthmatics).
- Coughs usually take 5 days to settle.
- If the condition gets worse or new symptoms develop, call 111 or see the emergency GP. If you’re worried, call 111.
Most coughs and colds do not need antibiotics
If your child has asthma
Follow the advice you have been given by your doctor. Again, it is safe to manage this problem yourself at home because coughing is common in asthma. However, call 999 if…
- there are any breathing difficulties
- the child cannot speak
- the lips are blue
- they are not responding to the inhaler.
Are there people in the house who smoke?
The cough may get worse if there are people who smoke in the house. Even if they smoke in a different room, the child may still be affected. Please try to see your house as one big box rather than having separate rooms. There are so many spaces under things like doors that helps smoke easily pass from one room to the next. In this way, passive smoking affects children even if they are not in the same room as you, especially if they already have some other condition like a cold or asthma. Either smoke outside or give it up.
More about Whooping Cough