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How Do I Treat a Hoarse Baby?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated Jan 27, 2024
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The best way of treating a hoarse baby will depend on the underlying cause. Hoarseness is not a condition in itself, but is generally a symptom of another problem. Infants most often outgrow hoarseness because it is often due to long bouts of crying. Other conditions, such as reflux or another illness, may require medication and dietary changes in order to alleviate symptoms.

In the case of crying, there is not real way to treat hoarseness. Infants cry, sometimes excessively, and this can put strain on the vocal cords. This sometimes even leads to calloused areas or nodules, which often exacerbates the condition. The only way for hoarseness to be cured in this case is for the crying to cease or lessen, which generally occurs on its own by the time an infant is several months old.

Reflux, or the passage of food or stomach acid from the stomach into the esophagus, is also a potential cause of a hoarse baby. This condition can range in severity from mild to moderate, and treatment can include dietary changes and sometimes medication. Breastfed infants usually need their nursing mothers to avoid foods which may cause stomach irritation. Formula-fed babies may have to switched to a thicker formula or one with added rice starch, or one designed to prevent stomach irritation. Medication may also be given, and once the condition is treated, hoarseness should subside.

Occasionally, treatment for a hoarse baby may require prescription medications if the symptoms are caused by an upper respiratory infection or a similar illness. This could be caused by the common cold and other simple viral infections which lead to excessive coughing, thus irritating the vocal cords. More serious infections, such as pertussis, may also be to blame. These require prompt medical attention since they can be serious, or even fatal, in infants.

Hoarseness which does not subside within a few days may be cause for concern. Sometimes irritants in the air can lead to a hoarse baby. These can include dust, pollen, or pet dander. Dry air caused by continuously running the heat or air conditioning may also lead to hoarseness. This can be alleviated by using a humidifier or setting your thermostat so the heating and air system doesn't run as often.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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