This condition is caused by a viral infection. It can be alarming and often occurs at night, but usually passes quickly. Your child will have difficulty breathing, and a short, distinctive barking cough when he breathes out. He may be making a crowing or whistling noise. In a severe attack, he may use muscles around his nose, neck, and upper arms in his attempts to breathe. IF HE HAS blue-tinged skin or signs of a severe attack (see IMPORTANT, below), CALL 911 OR YOUR LOCAL EMS.


  • If the attack is severe or prolonged, CALL 911 OR YOUR LOCAL EMS.
  • If the attack is severe, there is a risk that he is suffering from a rare condition called epiglottitis. Suspect epiglottitis if your child has a high temperature and is obviously in distress, and has not had the Hib vaccination. CALL 911 OR YOUR LOCAL EMS.


1. Help your child into a comfortable breathing position. Sit him up in bed, propped by pillows, or sit him on your lap supporting his back. Reassure him.

Croup image 1 with annotation


2. Stay calm—if you panic it could frighten the child, which can worsen the attack.

3. If it is safe to do so, create a steamy atmosphere. Take the child into the bathroom, and run a hot faucet or shower, or boil some water in the kitchen

Croup image 2 with annotations


4. If he has not improved after 10 minutes, cool air can be helpful. Put him in front of a cool-mist humidifier, open the window in his bedroom, or take him outside briefly to breathe in the air.






Excerpted from First Aid Fast For Babies and Children / copyright 2018 DK Publishing