The most obvious sign that your child has croup is the croup cough. “The cough from croup is a very different sounding cough from other coughs. It has a dry, barky seal-like sound to it,” says Danelle Fisher, MD, chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. “It’s usually worse at night; kids can wake up in the middle of the night with this harsh-sounding cough.” (Find out the whooping cough symptoms you may be overlooking.)
The croup cough is sometimes accompanied by a distinct sound called Stridor, which is a high-pitched sound that occurs when the child inhales to breathe. This sound may panic parents, but Dr. Fisher warns that keeping calm is important. “If mom and dad are panicked, kids will panic and the airway issues will get worse.” Instead, bring your child into the bathroom, run the hot water in the shower for 15 minutes while letting your child breathe in the steam. This will help soothe the inflammation and open the airways, calming the croup cough. Alternatively, bundle your child warmly and take them out in the cold night air. Breathing the cold air will shrink the inflammation.