Home Remedies for Croup

As a parent, you face many obstacles that can threaten the health of a young child. With a scary cough, croup is one of those medical concerns that can be a pretty terrifying experience. While a croup attack is troubling, it is rarely serious – kids usually rebound within several days with in-house treatments and rest. Home remedies for croup can also help speed up recovery time.

What is Croup?

Croup is a viral infection of the respiratory system that mostly attacks young children under the age of six. Typically rearing its ugly head during the fall and winter seasons, the condition is characterized by a harsh cough – often described as a ‘barking’ sound. Breathing is difficult for a child, as croup causes swelling and narrowing in the voice box, windpipe, and breathing tubes that lead to the lungs [1]. The older a child gets, the less likely they are to get croup because their lungs and windpipes are much stronger than when they were younger.

Causes and Symptoms

Croup is caused by the same viruses behind the infamous common cold, and is just as contagious. The germs spread from one person to another when an infected individual coughs or sneezes. Close contact with an infected child will also transmit the virus.

Croup symptoms include:

• Harsh, barking cough
• Gasping, raspy sound when breathing
• Fever (usually less than 104°F)
• Hoarse voice
• Swollen vocal chords

Croup Home Remedies

Croup typically lasts for five to six days. The worst of the symptoms appear at night, and tend to peak during the second or third night. To make the experience easier on your child, you may want to get familiar with some of the following home remedies for croup:

a) Humidifier or Vaporizer:

The cool mist of a humidifier or vaporizer adds humidity to a room, which can provide relief for narrow airways that aren’t getting enough secretions. Allow the vaporizer to blow into your child’s face.

b) Open a Window:

If you don’t have a vaporizer in the home, the cool night air can help clear the airways of a child battling the symptoms of croup.

c) Shower:

Another alternative to a cool-mist vaporizer is to take your child into the bathroom, shut the door, and then run a hot shower. The steam that is produced will provide temporary relief because the humidity aids in clearing breathing passages.

d) Popsicle:

Staying hydrated makes croup more bearable. Popsicles and other flavored ice treats are a refreshing way to keep a child hydrated throughout the day.

e) Chicken Broth with Herbs:

Add garlic, thyme and oregano to chicken broth while simmering in a pot over the stove. This liquid will soothe the throat and help fight the infection by delivering antioxidants and vitamins found in the herbs.

f) Vitamin C:

A boost in the immune system can help fight off the croup infection, making it important to increase a child’s intake of vitamin C. Consider administering supplements and adding foods to their diet, such as oranges, real fruit juice, grapefruit and green vegetables.

g) Warmed Fruit Juice:

Not only does warm fruit juice deliver a nice dose of vitamin C, but the beverage also helps loosen up the phlegm associated with croup.

h) Broth:

Feed your child broth to help clear the phlegm in their system. Choose a sodium-free option to avoid the effect that salt has on the body.

i) Head Elevation:

Make sure your baby’s head is held high to make breathing easier during a croup attack.

j) Upright Position [2]:

Placing your child in an upright position can make breathing easier. Sit them on your lap or put them in a favorite chair for comfort.

k) Herbal Teas:

Allow your child to sip on herbal teas as a way to provide the body with helpful antioxidants, as well as to break up any phlegm making it hard to breathe and swallow.

l) Zinc:

To fight croup symptoms, feed your child foods that are high in zinc, such as pumpkin seeds, low-fat roast beef, and peanuts. Zinc helps support the immune system.

m) Vitamin A:

Vitamin A helps a child battling croup because it helps to heal mucous membranes. A suggested dose for a child is 2000 IU. You may also consider adding foods high in vitamin A to their diet, such as sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables, carrots, lettuce, and cantaloupe.

n) Be Extra Soothing:

A little extra tender loving care will go a long way with a child fighting the effects of croup. When unhappy, children and babies tend to cry, which will only worsen swelling in their airways. The best thing you can do is soothe your child is to keep hem calm and distracted. Effective approaches include cuddling, rocking, holding and talking.

o) Go Outside:

The coolness of night air can help a child breathe when their symptoms of croup seem unbearable. This approach is best during the spring, summer or fall season when moisture and humidity is a factor. Make sure to bundle up your child before attempting this remedy.

p) Clear Liquids:

To avoid the production of phlegm and worsened congestion, avoid milk and other dairy products. Giving a child clear liquids will make it easier for them to breathe. Apple juice and water are winners – especially when a child is thirsty right before bedtime.

q) Vitamin E:

Add foods (such as almonds, sunflower seeds and cooked spinach) to your child’s diet, so they may take advantage of the oxygenation of cells that takes place with the vitamin.

r) Wash Your Hands:

Frequent hand washing is a must to prevent the virus associated with croup from spreading to other family members.


[1] http://children.webmd.com/tc/croup-topic-overview
[2] http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/croup/DS00312/DSECTION=lifestyle-and-home-remedies