Te mate maremare pēpi Croup

Croup is a common viral infection that narrows the upper airways. It is more common in pēpi (babies) over 6 months old and young tamariki (children) under 3, though older tamariki can also get it.

Symptoms of croup

Croup symptoms can last for several days, but they are usually worse at around 3 to 5 days. The symptoms are usually worse at night or when there is a sudden cold change in temperature.

Typical symptoms include:

  • a loud, barking cough (sounding like a seal)
  • a high-pitched whistling or rasping sound when breathing in
  • fast or difficult breathing
  • distress, anxiety and agitation
  • pale or blue skin and lips
  • a hoarse voice.

Your tamaiti (child) may have other signs of a viral illness such as a:

  • sore throat
  • fever
  • runny nose
  • red eyes.

Get immediate medical help

Helping a child with croup

Having croup can be scary. Help your tamaiti stay calm. Reassure and comfort them as crying can make their symptoms worse.

Sit them upright — this makes it easier for them to breathe.

  • If they have a fever or sore throat, give them paracetamol (Pamol). Follow the instructions on the packet for how much to give. Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider if you are not sure.
  • Encourage them to drink plenty of fluids. This can help to soothe their throat, as well as keeping them hydrated.
  • Avoid any sudden changes in temperature.
  • Do not put them in a steamy room. It does not help and increases the risk of an accidental burn.
  • Do not give them cough medicines — they make the airways smaller by drying out the mucus (sputum or phlegm).

Getting help for your child with croup

Croup is not usually serious, and you can usually safely treat it at home. But croup can become serious quickly. Take your tamaiti to your healthcare provider straight away if:

  • they are getting worse
  • they are not better after 48 hours
  • you are worried or concerned about them.

Treating croup

As croup is caused by a virus, antibiotics do not help. In moderate to severe croup, steroids are sometimes prescribed to help reduce any swelling in your child’s airways.

Related websites

Asthma and Respiratory Foundation

Information about the symptoms and treatment of croup and when to seek medical help.


Detailed information about croup including how to care for your tamaiti at home and when to seek help.

Clinical review

This content was written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. It has been adapted for Health Information and Services.

Clinical advisers — HealthInfo (external link)

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