Croup is a common respiratory health condition that affects young children and typically occurs during fall and winter. It is characterized by a harsh coughing sound that almost sounds like a barking sound. In addition to the cough, croup also causes the voice box and windpipe to swell and constrict, and this makes breathing hard for the affected child.

mother holding her baby

Sometimes, croup will also cause a raspy hoarse voice. But what exactly causes croup? The condition is caused by the same viruses that cause the common cold, usually at the start of the cold. The condition is highly contagious and can easily be passed on from one person to another through coughing and sneezing. It is important to mention that as children grow older and the respiratory system attains maturity, they are less predisposed to getting croup. At the onset, getting a flu vaccine may help ward off the viruses and improve the child’s ability to fight off the causative viruses. An attack of croup can be very frightening, both for the child and the parents, but the condition is rarely fatal. It typically takes a few days to clear and kids get better with rest and an array of home remedies that can be used for the natural treatment of croup.


1. Calm the Baby:

Time Required: Varies from one baby to another.
What You Need: Calming techniques.
Difficulty: Moderate

 

One of the most important ways to aid the natural treatment of croup is to help ensure that the child remains calm. Croup causes a child to be very cranky, and since the condition is characterized by inflammation and narrowing of the airways, it helps to get the child as calm as possible. The fussier a child is, and the more they cry, the worse the symptoms become. Additionally, crying tends to increase the amount of mucus produced in the airways, and this aggravates the symptoms of croup. Whatever you do, try and make sure that baby remains as calm as possible.

Directions:

  1. Calming techniques will differ from one baby to another, but this typically includes singing to the baby, cuddling with them and reading stories together.
  2. For some kids, this could be an easy game or watching the child’s favourite cartoons.
  3. This may take some time as the baby is generally in a lot of discomfort, but it goes a long way in helping ease the symptoms.

 


2. Humidifier:

Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: Cool mist humidifier.
Difficulty: Easy

 

Another time-tested way of treating croup is with the use of a cool mist humidifier. The purpose of the humidifier is to ensure that there is adequate moisture in the air. When the air is dry, kids experience heightened symptoms. This is why a humidifier comes in handy. In place of a humidifier, you may use the traditional way of steaming in the bathroom as described in the simple directions below.

Directions:

  1. Turn on the cool-mist humidifier and monitor the progress made, especially as relates to the raspy barking cough.
  2. Alternatively, run a hot shower in the bathroom, and once the air is steamy, sit with the baby for about 15 minutes. This should help ease the coughing.
  3. If it is cool in the outdoors, open a window to allow fresh cool air in as this helps to calm the symptoms of croup.
  4. If you are travelling, make sure you roll down the windows and allow cool air in.

 


3. Adequate Hydration:

Time Required: 10 – 15 Min in each sitting.
What You Need: Enough fluids for the baby.
Difficulty: Easy

 

One of the most important things to do to help with the natural management of croup is to ensure that the child is well hydrated. Dehydration causes increased production of thick mucus which only makes the condition’s symptoms worse, and adds pressure to the vocal cords. This continues to congest the airways, and often results in a cranky croupy child. It is preferable to give warm healthy fluids that should also help boost the immune system. The warmth of the fluid not only relaxes the vocal cords, it is also ideal for loosening mucus and helping get rid of the raspy cough.

Directions:

  1. For infants and small babies, it is important to ensure that you continue breastfeeding or formula feeding to keep the little one hydrated.
  2. For older kids, give plenty of warm water to the child. You may also prepare bone soup to keep the child warm as well as to boost the immune system. Frozen fruit pops may also come in handy
  3. In addition to these options, encourage the child to rest to assist the body fight off the infection.

 


4. Warm Compress:

Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: A warm compress with oils such as spearmint or peppermint.
Difficulty: Easy

 

Use a warm compress to ease the symptoms of croup. This remedy is used topically to treat the condition naturally. When the chest is exposed to the warmth of the compress, it helps to loosen the mixture and relax the airways so that air passes more readily. What’s more, the use of the essential oils has a profound effect on clearing the airways. Eucalyptus and peppermint oils are your best bet as far as the use of a warm compress is concerned. Note however, that the oils should not be used in infants and small babies. Remember to mix the oils with a carrier oil such as olive or avocado oil.

Directions:

  1. Mix the spearmint or peppermint oil with your preferred carrier oil.
  2. Dab this oil mixture on the warm compress and place it on the chest, making sure you press in just lightly.
  3. Let the compress remain on the chest for a few minutes.
  4. Follow this up with the intake of warm fluids to stay hydrated.

 


5. Keep the Child’s Head Elevated:

Time Required: Varies
What You Need: A set of soft but firm pillows.
Difficulty: Easy

 

Having mentioned why it is important to get adequate rest, it follows that one of the best ways to do this is with the use of soft but firm pillows. This helps to keep the head elevated and to ease the symptoms while providing relief and comfort. While this technique works for slightly older kids, it is not recommended for infants as it may cause head injury. Instead, opt to support the child’s head with your hands and ensure there is adequate rest.

Directions:

  1. Place the pillows on stacks of twos and let the child lay in order to rest well.

 


When managing the symptoms of croup cough at home, it helps to be on the lookout in order to get medical help if need be. Some of the things that should warranty immediate medical attention include drooling, extremely laboured breathing, chest pains and/or muscle pulls as well as extreme drowsiness. What’s more, if a child’s symptoms exceed 5 days, it helps to get medical attention immediately.