Baby breathing can cause a lot of concern for moms. Why? Because they just breathe differently than us. They are tiny. And it’s scary to think of something going wrong. It can be especially worrisome if your baby starts to cough. So, I want to talk to you about your baby coughing at night, and what you can do to help them.

(Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be taken as or replace medical advice from your healthcare provider.)

baby coughing at night

Babies Breathing

Babies are obligate nose breathers for about the first six months of life. This just means they instinctually breathe through their nose. It would be quite difficult for them to breastfeed as much as they do if they were mouth breathers, right?

They also breathe much more rapidly than we do. Newborns tend to have a respiration rate of 30-60 breaths per minute. While an adult is more like 12-18. Seeing your little baby breathe so fast, if you don’t know any better, can be worrisome to a new mom.

Babies also have small nasal/oral airways. And a lot of secretions. So it is easy for a baby to sound congested. When we are congested, it’s easy to fix. We blow our nose. Babies obviously can’t do that.

All these things together can make it scary for new moms. What is normal? When should I worry? What can I do if my baby is coughing? Take a deep breath mama. Let’s talk about what you can do for your little baby bundle.

Nasal Bulb Suction

When babies get congested one of the best things you can do for them is to suction their nose. Remember, they are nose breathers. So, help them clear their little airways.

There are different kinds of nasal bulb suctions you can get. And most hospitals will send you home with one after delivery. The most important thing to keep in mind is keeping the suction clean. That is why I really like this suction bulb. You can take it apart for easy cleaning.

How to Use a Nasal Bulb Suction on a Baby

Using a nasal bulb suction on your baby is pretty straight forward. But keep in mind they may offer resistance to it. If so, it is better not to fight them because you don’t want to cause any damage to their nasal tissue.

  • Have a second person help hold your baby still on their back.
  • You can use infant nasal saline to help loosen secretions.
  • Then squeeze all the air out of the bulb suction (before inserting into nose).
  • Insert it gently into the nose
  • Slowly release suction.
  • Repeat 2-3 times if necessary.
  • Avoid overuse because this would likely irritate the nasal tissues.

Learn more about nasal bulb suction here.

Baby Coughing Dry : Need to Humidify

Easy way to remember that, right? If your baby has a dry cough, a simple way to alleviate that can be to use a humidifier in their bedroom.

This is most prominently seen during the winter time when we are using the heat. Heat will dry the air. When the air is dry, our nasal/oral airways become irritated. They need moisture!

And hey mama, your baby isn’t the only one who will benefit from a humidifier. We keep one in our bedroom too! It makes a huge difference.

Baby Coughing at Night with Vomiting/Fever

The important thing to discern here is, does your baby potentially have an acute illness. When coughing is associated with vomiting and/or a fever, they most likely have a viral/bacterial illness. In this case, a call is warranted to the child’s pediatrician for evaluation.

And if ever you have any questions or concerns for your baby, never hesitate to call the doctor anyway. It is what they are there for!

Cough Remedies

When our babies are sick, we want to do everything we can to make them feel better. If they are coughing, it can be really tempting to want to give them medicine to make the cough stop. But hold the phone, mama. This is important!

The cough reflex in infants is a life-saving mechanism. And they should not be given any cough suppressants.

Giving infants cough medicine, and that includes natural remedies, can actually end up doing them more harm. Also remember, do not give infants less than 1 year of age honey. As this could cause botulism.

If you look on the back of an OTC cough medicine, you will see that the recommended age is never less than 4 years old. And even then, it is recommended to wait until 6 years of age unless otherwise directed by their pediatrician.

Keep Them Well Hydrated

In infants, the only source of hydration they need comes from their formula or breast milk. There is no need to give them water, and it can actually be harmful to infants. Being well hydrated helps thin their secretions and keep things flowing more easily.

So, just ensure they are drinking enough of their formula or breast milk. Infants should be soiling 6-8 diapers per day. If there is a decrease in either of these, the pediatrician should be called.

Read signs of dehydration in infants here.

In Summary to Help Your Baby Coughing at Night

If you have a baby coughing at night, it can make you worried. We love our babies to no end and just want to make sure everything is okay! I hear you, mama.

And that is why I say, never hesitate to call the pediatrician if you are ever concerned or just want them checked out. More often than not, there are simple things you can do to help your little one when coughing at night. And they will get better in a few short days.

  • Nasal bulb suctioning
  • Saline drops in the nose
  • Humidifier
  • Keep them well hydrated

I hope you found these tips helpful. And remember mama, you are doing an amazing job!

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