Coughing is common in children, especially when they are preschool age, and is usually short lived. However some coughs can be a sign of an infection and may need to be checked out by a doctor.

A wet cough is “chesty” and phlegmy.  A wet cough is not normal and may need to be checked out by a doctor. Listen to the sound of a wet cough.

A dry cough is less likely to produce phlegm (mucous) and can sound irritated, harsh or barking and is usually short lived. Any cough that lasts more than three weeks needs to be checked out by a doctor.

If in doubt always phone Healthline 0800 611 116 or see your doctor. GP visits and most prescription charges are free for under 13 year olds in New Zealand.

For further information about coughs in children see:

What can you do to help prevent coughs in children?

While coughing is common in children there are things you can do to reduce serious or repeated respiratory infections.

  • Try to keep your home warm, dry and well ventilated.

Healthy homes

  • Make sure babies are exclusively breast-fed until six months if possible, and then continue to be well nourished throughout childhood.

Healthy eating

  • Protect babies and children from tobacco smoke at home and in the car.

Health effects of smoking

  • Pregnant women should check they are fully immunised and childhood immunisations should be given on time.

Childhood immunisation
Immunisation for pregnant women

  • Covering coughs and sneezes, and regular hand washing helps reduce the spread of infection.

Hand hygiene