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Does your baby have a chronic cough?

Let’s take a look at a number of important reasons, the symptoms, and possible remedies for a persistent cough in babies.

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Mom’s Question:

I have a 7-month-old who has had a cough for 1.5 months now. I had him to the Dr after three weeks, and we tried a course of Amoxicillin for ten days, but it didn’t clear up the cough totally.

The Dr thought he may have allergies, so we are trying a cold mist humidifier in our bedroom at night. He continues to cough and is congested in the morning. He coughs up phlegm in the morning. I have also sprayed an allergy spray on our blankets, carpets, and pillows to alleviate some allergens.

What other home remedies should I try?



Reasons & Remedies for Chronic Cough in Baby

6 weeks of persistent cough is a long time for a baby, and you did the right thing to seek advice after three weeks. Unfortunately, the Amoxicillin (an antibiotic) didn’t help and it is now time for the next step.

First of all, do you know what triggered the cough in the first place? Did your son have any other symptoms like a cold? Sometimes, a cough takes longer to resolve than a cold. But if your child is not showing other signs and symptoms of illness, it is not much to worry about.

Definition of Chronic Cough

As a start, it is important to know what is defined as a chronic cough vs an acute cough.

A cough can be considered chronic when it has been going on for more than 2 weeks. Anything under 2 weeks is still considered acute.

Signs and symptoms associated with chronic cough

  1. Frequent sneezing – this is usually associated with allergic rhinitis and sinusitis. This usually leads to post nasal drip and nasal congestion, later on resulting to cough.
  2. Post nasal drip – this can also be attributed to allergic rhinitis and sinusitis. Mucus from the sinuses can elicit a cough reflex.
  3. Shortness of breath -frequent coughing can lead to shortness of breath when it occurs non-stop.
  4. Frequent throat clearing – sometimes, children complain of itchy throat and postnasal drip, resulting them in trying to clear their throats frequently.
  5. Sore throat – this can also cause cough as they try to soothe their throats.

Possible Reasons for Chronic Cough in Babies

1. Allergies

Allergies can be manifested as a lot of things. Rashes, redness, hives, frequent sneezing, nasal congestion, swelling of the eyes and face, swelling of throat and air passage, for more serious conditions. Another manifestation is cough. A cough reflex acts as a way of expelling anything that is stuck in the throat.

Usually, when a cough is caused by allergies, this is usually accompanied by other signs and symptoms such as colds or runny nose, teary eyes, or frequent sneezing.

2. Chronic Sinusitis

Chronic Sinusitis is an infection of the sinuses that goes on for a long time (symptoms reaching up to 12 weeks). This can cause mucus to drain to the back of the throat (post nasal drip) and can result to a cough reflex. Other associated symptoms include facial pain (sinuses) and nasal discharges.

3. Bronchiolitis

Bronchiolitis is the inflammation of the smaller airway passage known as bronchioles and is usually caused by the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which you probably heard of. This virus causes a simple cold in kids older than 3 years, but it can be very dangerous and even life threatening for babies as it can penetrate their lungs.

Your baby seems to be way too healthy for this to be a reason! Other signs and symptoms include colds, shortness of breath, or difficulty of breathing. This is common during the winter season or cold months.

4. Post nasal drip from sinusitis

Post nasal drip from sinusitis can cause a cough reflex as the child tries to expel the mucus draining at the back of their throats. Decongestants and anti-histamines work for postnasal drip. But the cause for postnasal drip should be addressed to ultimately eliminate and prevent the coughing.

5. Acid reflux

The lower esophageal sphincter of babies and young children are usually underdeveloped, hence acid reflux is common in this age. The acid backflows into the esophagus, causing an irritation to the esophagus and throat, eliciting a cough. The most common acid reflux symptoms are more related to excessing vomiting and pain, but the chronic cough can be a symptom too.

6. Asthma

The hallmark of Asthma is the swelling of the airway passage, causing wheezing, cough, and sometimes, difficulty in breathing. For acute exacerbations of asthma, it usually starts with a cough, later on progressing to wheezing (swelling of airways).  Wheezing is more apparent during expiration, and is an indication of the onset of tightening of the airways.

Bronchodilators are usually used for asthma.

7. Foreign body ingestion

Foreign body ingestion can also cause coughing. A baby will try to expel anything that blocks his airway by coughing. Is it possible that your baby breathed in something that is now stuck? It is probably unlikely for this long time, but some type of smaller blockage could result in a cough too.

8. Whooping cough

Whooping cough or pertussis is another possible reason for persistent coughing, but your baby should be quite ill in such a case. The type of cough is uncontrollable and consecutive in pertussis. This can be avoided by having your child vaccinated against the bacterium causing pertussis (Bordetella).

9. Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic Fibrosis is a rare disease that is tested for in newborns. This is a progressive lung disease that is associated with frequent lung infections. This is most commonly associated with chronic cough.

If your baby is also experiencing poor weight gain, despite eating normally, is often constipated and has a salty taste to his skin, running a simple test for cystic fibrosis might be a reasonable thing to do. But if your baby has already tested for this and is overall healthy and thriving, this too is nothing to worry about!

How to Help Baby with Chronic Cough

I really don’t think you should settle with “maybe allergy” as an answer from your son’s doctor. Require further investigation!

What you can do at home in addition to the humidifier are to:

  1. Raise the head end of your son’s bed to ease his breathing at night.
  2. Use only a very mild washing powder, soap, and shampoo.
  3. Sometimes, a warm bath in humid, moist air can help. Try it before bedtime to see if it makes him sleep better.
  4. Think back if you bought any particular flowers or plants before the cough started. Then check if any of them are very allergenic, and in such case get rid of them.
  5. A chronic cough can also be a symptom of cow’s milk allergy, so if you have introduced cow’s milk to your son, consider reversing that and see if it helps. (You can read more about the symptoms of milk protein allergy here.)
  6. If any allergies run in the family, discuss those with the doctor as well.
  7. You can also give your baby some probiotics suitable for babies, to help to boost his immune system.
  8. Get your child vaccinated. Getting rid of vaccine-preventable diseases can definitely eliminate those unwanted viruses and bacterium that may cause unwanted diseases.

Otherwise, I believe your baby will outgrow the cough sooner or later.

I hope this helps,


More Coughing Babies


Find comments below.


May 23, 2018 Cough
by: Anonymous
Our daughter who is 5 months has had a cough since the end of October. We have been to the Dr numerous times, did a chest x-ray (clear), 10 days of antibiotics and now she is on Zantac. The cough has not gone away and the Dr thinks it may be reflux now. It is so upsetting, we feel helpless when she coughs and it exaggerates at night so we are not sleeping at all. Not sure what to do next, hoping the Zantac will help.

Jun 10, 2018 chronic cough
by: Anonymous
My daughter is four months old and has had a cough since about one month old. We have tried nebulizers, steroids, antibiotics and now are waiting for the results of her chest x-rays.

Jun 16, 2018 Cronic cough-poor baby
by: concerned grandma
have you found any relief? My granddaughter is 7 months, has had a chronic cough since 2 months. She is especially bad at night, coughing all night long. She is on nebulizer/steroids, Zantac, seems like so much medicine, and no relief. She also wheezes and has labored breathing at times. Does anyone else have a child that went through this, and if so, did you find a solution?

Dec 09, 2018 my baby is the same way

by: Lorena

she has been sick for almost a month- month n a half. they have her amoxicillin for 10 days and cphen drops but hasn’t cleared her up?? has anyone found a cure or what to do to help with the coughing, and wheezing?

Dec 09, 2018 chronic cough is finally better!

by: Anonymous

My little guy is now 19 months old, but last year at this time I was very frustrated. We finally put him on Zyrtec (which dried his nose too much!) and continued the cool mist humidifier in his room. I can say it has gotten better! What we finally discovered with him is that he has an allergy to evergreens and pine cones! I had those smelly decorative cones everywhere so my house would smell nice and only to discover those nice smelly cones made it very miserable and hard for him to breathe!! We removed them all out of the house and within a week, he was better. I guess we will no longer ever have a real Christmas tree! I hope this helps anybody who has read and commented on my blog! Thanks!

Jan 27, 2019 5-month-old w/ cough

by: Mamato2Boys

My 5-month-old has had a persistent cough for about 2 months now. He coughed so hard at times he would vomit. We took him to the Peds office last Monday and they did an x-ray to find a diaphragmatic hernia. His bowels and colon were up through the diaphragm and were against his left lung. They thought this may be causing the cough. He has surgery last Thursday to repair the hernia, but the cough still remains. I’m nervous he is going to cough hard enough to create a hernia again! We go see the ped again tomorrow and the pediatric surgeon suggests we have him refer us to a pediatric pulmonologist. Praying for each of you because I know what you are going through and how helpless you feel.

Jul 14, 2019 cough
by: Anonymous
My baby is now 9 months old and she’s had a cough since she was like 3 or 4 months I tried everything from amoxicillin to c-phen when it seems it’s gone away it’s back again. Every night I take her a warm bath rub some vapor rub on her chest and feet, I apply some saline drops in her nose and give her a little bit on honey that makes her sleep good through the night. hopefully, this helps, also seems like he allergy medicine helps her stay calm during the day.

Aug 13, 2019 No Honey!

by: Anonymous

To the poster before me – you should consult your doctor about giving your child honey. All reports, books, and doctors I have encountered are ADAMANT about not giving babies under a year Honey due to a risk of infant botulism.

Dec 17, 2019 SAFE THEN SORRY

by: Anonymous

me and my brother we grow up on honey since we start teething so if a little bit of honey is not going to kill. Honey is very good for everybody. We just moved to England and I’m shocked by how children walk in this country. No scarves, gloves, nothing particular babies. I’m not surprised in the UK is the highest % of meningitis and other illness. Parents don’t look after children, they have a big jacket but not children. I keeping my babies warm and comfy them cold and seek all the time with coat and other stuff. SO keep them safe than sorry.

Dec 19, 2019 Honey not for babies
by: Paula (Easy Baby Life)
Honey is very nutritious for anyone older than one year. For younger children, the spores of the Clostridium botulinum bacteria, which are sometimes present in honey, can be very dangerous. Young babies can develop infant botulism from these spores and although rare, a baby may die from it.So do not feed honey to your baby.You can read more about what foods to avoid for babies younger than one year here.Warm wishes,Paula

Dec 22, 2019 7 month old with the same issue

by: Anonymous

My 7-month-old son has had a chronic cough/wheezing since about 2 months old. He always smiles at me while he is coughing, but you can tell it bothers him. It is always worse in the morning. He has slept with a cool-mist humidifier for months now. It doesn’t seem to help much honestly. At his 6 months checkup, he was diagnosed with Bronchiolitis, however, I don’t think that is what he has, as it has gone on much longer than 3 weeks. His appetite is still enormous and he is in the 90th percentile for height and weight. I just want his wheeze and cough to go away! Poor thing!

Jan 29, 2020 13 month old with the same problem

by: Anonymous

My 13-month-old has had a chronic cough since she was about 7 months old. It’s always there but during the day it’s not too severe. But at night and during her naps it’s extremely severe and makes her whoop and gag. She’s had 3 courses of antibiotics, all of which have cleared up the cough only for it to return a week or so later, and has also been treated for asthma and allergies, with limited effect. She did have a wheeze as well for a while and the asthma treatment seems to have helped that, but it hasn’t helped the cough at all. She also has had a chronically very runny and blocked nose since she was about 5 months so we’ve tried piraton a few times, but all that did was thicken up the mucous and made no difference to the cough. We’re waiting for a chest x-ray at the moment. I just hope it sheds some light on the problem.

Apr 19, 2020 GRR~

by: Anonymous

I am in the same boat. I thought it was due to the fact that my doc has me on Vicodin and that it was getting into the breastmilk, but now I think it has got to be something else. I wish we could find relief for our little loves!

Jun 08, 2020 New older mom

by: Anonymous

My son has had this cough ever since he started going to daycare at 2 months, he is now 7 months. His ped has tried a couple of antibiotics and the 2nd worked and then the cough came back again. She asked me to see a pulmonologist and make sure it is nothing serious. I’ll let you know if I find a cure or a good tip on this.

Like a mom above explained, other than the coughing, especially in the mornings, my baby smiles a lot, eats a lot and he is in the 90 percentile.

It is relieving to see that many babies have the same symptoms and are healthy.

Jun 11, 2020 Update: 13-month baby with the same problem

by: Anonymous

I posted about 5 months ago about my 13-month daughter with the same problem. She’s since seen a ped, who arranged a chest x-ray which came back fine – which was no surprise as she’s never shown any sign of susceptibility to chest infections despite her asthma and other problems.

As soon as he’d established that she didn’t have anything wrong with her chest the ped lost interest, seemed to forget why the GP had referred her to him in the first place and started treating me like an over-protective mother when I asked him to continue to look into the cause of her cough and forever runny nose. Eventually, after much persuasion on my part, he made a very reluctant referral to ENT (ear, nose & throat), with a cover letter stating pretty much that I’d insisted on a waste of time referral! Luckily the ENT Dr took one look at her and could see what was wrong straight away, so ignored the ped’s letter.

It turned out that my daughter has very inflamed adenoids, tonsils, and nasal passages, and also glue ear. So I’m very glad I insisted on that ‘waste of time’ referral! The ENT DR thinks that the adenoids are causing her cough because they’re causing pressure on her breathing. He wants to monitor her for a short while, but say’s it’s likely that they’ll need to be taken out later this year.

In the meantime, her cough isn’t quite as severe as it used to be. After 6 months of having a very severe ‘whooping’ style every night, it now ranges from light to very severe depending on whether she has anything else bothering her as well. The big change was changing her washing powder to a very mild non-biological liquid, which helped her cough massively. It’s also helped by her asthma treatment, but that doesn’t get rid of it. Neither had any effect at all on her runny nose.

So, if anyone else’s child is having this same problem and can’t find any other cause, I’d strongly recommend insisting on an ENT referral, even if your ped thinks it’s a waste of time. You know you’re child better than they do.

Nov 02, 2020 Chronic Cough

by: Donna

Hi, my name is Donna I have a 3 and 1/2-year-old daughter. My daughter has had a cough since she was 4 months old. Her cough sounds very harsh, she normally coughs during the day and in the fall and winter. She has had tubes put in her ears, adenoids, and tonsils removed. That did not help with the dreaded cough. She also has had a bronchoscopy of her throat, stomach, and lungs. Everything came back fine, we took her to an allergist and they said she was allergic to cats and ragweed. Well, all summer long she played with the cats outside and never once coughed. Last year she was on Flovent, Atrovent, albuterol, Nasonex, and Claritin all of these medications did not work. She coughed all fall and winter long. The dreaded cough came back in October and we took her to the pulmonary doctor and she changed some medication. Now, she is taken Advair inhaler, Claritin, and Nasonex. She seems to do pretty well on the Advair. I also have been given her probiotics and silver biotics to help with her immune system.

Feb 26, 2021 my poor bug

by: lilma

my daughter is ten months old and has had the same persistent cough and runny nose. she has had numerous problems with her ears. I really wonder if it could be glue ear as the other post above me. fingers crossed ill have to ask the doctor about that when I go for her 12-month checkup. also, she goes to daycare and picks up everything she also has had issues with eyes and has had pretty bad eye infections where they swell up and goop comes out of them. has anyone else had these issues and if so any help you could give me as in-home remedies besides drops to keep allergies down or what could be causing it?????????

Feb 28, 2021 Honey!?!?

by: Anonymous

I was looking for some other at-home remedies for my daughter who has recently developed a cough when I came across the honey suggestion. My daughter is 16 months old and her pediatrician has suggested honey on numerous occasions. She has stated that studies have shown that the “grandmother” remedies are actually being proven to be more effective than cough syrups and medications. I also found an overwhelming amount of research on the Internet suggesting honey was both good and bad for children it’s all very confusing without a straight answer.

Easy Baby Life: Honey, and especially organic honey, does possess antiseptic and antibacterial properties according to a growing amount of research. However, for babies younger than 12 months, honey can actually be extremely dangerous, due to possibly containing bacterial spores that can lead to infant botulism. You can read about why to avoid honey for babies here But for a 16-month-old, honey is considered completely safe and probably healthy in reasonable amounts. It does contain very much sugar, so it can, of course, contribute to cavities and weight gain if overused.

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