Babies cough for a variety of reasons, including illnesses, medical conditions and irritations. If your baby coughs after drinking water, it may be a reaction to the temperature if the water is extremely cold. A very cold beverage might irritate the throat and airway. In addition, your baby could be drinking too fast or getting too much water in the mouth, causing her to cough. This may especially be the case if your baby drinks water from a sippy cup lying down or with her head tilted back too far.
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When a baby coughs, it may be scary, but it usually is not a sign of a serious illness or condition, according to KidsHealth. In fact, coughing is beneficial because it helps protect your baby's airway. Coughs may be caused by asthma or a bacterial or viral infection. If a baby is getting over a cough caused by an illness, certain irritants in the environment may temporarily aggravate the cough, such as cold air, strong smells or pet dander. Very cold water might aggravate a cough that your baby already has and might have nothing to do with the beverage.
Determining the Problem
If water brings on a coughing spell in your baby, try to determine the reason for his irritation. If the water is too cold, make sure the water he is drinking is at least room temperature in the future. Also make sure he is not laying down or tilting his head back when he is drinking so he is not getting gigantic gulps that are making him gag and cough. If you are not sure why he is coughing and he seems miserable, call his pediatrician.
If your baby coughs persistently after drinking water, make sure you don't give her any over-the-counter cough medicines, cautions the American Academy of Pediatrics' HealthyChildren. These medications can have dangerous side effects when given to infants and children under 2 years of age. In addition, many sites recommend using honey mixtures to soothe a cough, though honey should never be given to infants -- babies under 12 months old -- to prevent infant botulism, advises Dr. Jay L. Hoecker of MayoClinic.com.
When to Call the Pediatrician
Your baby's cough after drinking water is probably not serious, but call his pediatrician if he has trouble breathing or is breathing very rapidly; has blue coloration on his lips, tongue or face; his cough is accompanied by a high fever; or he is wheezing.