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What Are the Treatments for Dry Cough & Sore Throat in an Infant?

By Sarah Harding ; Updated August 14, 2017

A number of illnesses can cause a dry cough and sore throat in an infant. Common illnesses with these symptoms include a viral cold or the flu, according to the Kids Health website. Unless the illness is caused by a bacteria, medications are not typically prescribed to remedy such symptoms. Other treatments done at home can be effective in providing the infant with some relief.

Elevate the Head

The Kids Health website recommends elevating an infant's head during the night to reduce nighttime coughing. This can be done safely by placing one or more pillows underneath the crib mattress at the end where the baby will be resting. It is important not to put the pillow inside the baby's crib as this can increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS.

Shower Steam

Some coughs can benefit from steam from a hot shower. The Kids Health website suggests running a shower with the bathroom door closed holding the baby. The steam can make breathing easier when the child has a cough described as a barking seal or a "croupy" cough. Exposure to steam for at least 20 minutes several times a day or night is sufficient.


Run a cool-mist humidifier in the infant's room while she sleeps. Dry, hot air can only aggravate a cough and sore throat.

Soothing Fluids

Cold beverages may be soothing to an infant with a sore throat or it may be more painful. Offer the infant plenty of opportunities to take a bottle or breastfeed. Fluids are important in thinning the mucus drainage that can contribute to throat soreness and coughing.

Pain Reliever

An over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, may be given to an infant to soothe throat pain. This should only be done under the advice of a medical professional warns the Kids Health website, as most baby medicines are not truly created for young infants.


The Mayo Clinic points out that using a saline solution and bulb syringe can alleviate some coughing and throat pain that is due to post nasal drip, or the drainage of thick mucus down the back of the throat. Specially created nasal sprays can fit into the baby's nostrils or are made with a small tip for administering drops. This is a drug-free solution that can thin mucus. The bulb syringe is inserted into one nostril at a time and released to suction the loosened mucus.

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