If you’ve noticed your baby is coughing, they might have a condition called croup but what is it and what should you do?

Knowing the symptoms to look out for and the treatment that is needed to help them can be handy of your little one ever suffers with croup.

To help you out, here are the symptoms of croup, how to look after your child when they have croup and when you should seek medical attention for your child.

What is croup?

The NHS website explains that croup is a condition that is common and mainly affects the airways of babies and young children.

Although croup is usually mild, parents are urged to call NHS 111 if they think their child has it because they may need some treatment to help them.

What are the symptoms of croup?

Croup symptoms include a barking cough which can sound like a seal and if you’re not sure if your child’s cough is croup, the NHS says you can find examples online to listen to.

Your child might also have a hoarse voice or difficulty breathing.

When your child breathes in, you might notice a high pitched and rasping sound.

Usually, a child gets cold-like symptoms before developing croup which include a temperature, runny nose and cough.

Ambulance response categories explained

The NHS website adds: “Croup symptoms usually come on after a few days and are often worse at night.”

If you don’t know if your child has croup, there are similar conditions that they may have instead, including a cold, bronchiolitis and whooping cough.

When to call NHS 111 or get an urgent doctor appointment

The NHS encourages you to ask for an urgent GP appointment or call NHS 111 if your child could have croup as they might give your child some medicine.

You should also seek medical advice if your child is getting worse or not improving after seeing a GP.

If you’re child is more seriously ill or they’re under three months old, you might find that they get referred to hospital.

When to call 999 or go to A&E

Here’s when you should call 999 or take your child to A&E if they’re suffering with croup:

  • "is struggling to breathe (you may notice grunting noises, see their tummy sucking under their ribcage, or their breathing may sound different)
  • "has blue, grey, pale or blotchy skin, lips or tongue – on brown or black skin, this may be easier to see on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet
  • "is sleepier than normal or difficult to wake
  • "is unusually quiet and still
  • "is limp, floppy or not responding like they normally do (their head may fall to the side, backwards or forwards, or they may find it difficult to lift their head or focus on your face)
  • "is very upset or restless, is having difficulty breathing and can't be calmed down
  • "is unwell and drooling more than they normally do, finding it hard to swallow, or wants to sit rather than lie down".

How to look after a child who has croup

Within 48 hours, croup normally improves on its own but the NHS has shared some things you can do to help your child at home.

You should make sure your child sits upright and if you can, avoid them from lying down.

If they’re distressed, comfort them and try to keep their calm as crying can worsen symptoms.

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Give your child plenty of fluids and check on them regularly including during the night.

If they have a high temperature or are experiencing discomfort, you can give them either paracetamol or ibuprofen.

The NHS warns parents not to put their child in a steamy room or make them inhale steam.