Hoarse Voice in Babies - Causes & Treatment

Baby Hoarse Voice – Causes and Treatment

Babies crying is nothing new, but have you ever heard a baby scream so loud and for so long that you started to wonder if they were auditioning for a heavy metal band? Well, that’s not the only way babies’ voices can get hoarse. Teething and illness can also make them sound like a tiny Tom Waits.

But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’re going to dive into the different causes of hoarse voice in babies and how you can treat it. No need to panic and rush to the doctor just yet.

So, if you’re a new parent and your baby’s voice sounds like they’ve been chain-smoking since birth or if you’re a seasoned pro and have been through this before, keep reading. You might just learn something new and save yourself a trip to the paediatrician.

Causes of a Hoarse Voice in Infants

The reasons for hoarseness in infants range from the simplest explanations to signs of a serious medical condition. Here are some of them.

1. Swelling of Vocal Cords and Formation of Nodules

A baby’s hoarse voice can be due to crying, though it is not very common in infants. As with the adults when the vocal cords are put under a lot of strain the baby’s cords can swell up, or develop nodules leading to his voice sounding hoarse.

2. Presence of Phlegm/Infections

The vocal tract is also connected to the nose, which is why any obstruction in the nose affects the voice. If your little one has a cough or a cold, the presence of phlegm in the throat can affect the voice. A viral infection, such as laryngitis can also cause inflammation of the voice box and lead to temporary hoarseness of the voice.

3. Result of Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is pretty common in babies since their digestive systems are yet to reach full maturity. However, when the reflux starts getting too frequent, the acid that keeps rising to the throat can interact with the vocal cords and cause them to develop a scratchy texture.

4. Constant Papillomatosis of the Respiratory System

Although this illness is rare in babies, it does result in a hoarse voice. Recurrent Respiratory Papillomatosis or RRP is caused due to the HPV virus, or the human papillomavirus. It leads to a wart-like formation on the vocal cords, causing them to sound hoarse.

5. Possibility of a Tumour

This one is quite serious and can lead to fatal consequences if not diagnosed quickly. In such cases, babies usually cry a lot and then start having problems with breathing. The presence of a tumour does not necessarily indicate cancer, but it does hinder the normal functioning of the cords.

6. Dehydration

Dehydration could be another reason why a baby could have a hoarse voice. A large gap between feeds can lead to a dry throat, and the vocal cords could strain with the babying crying loudly for long periods.

7. Crying

Newborns and young infants have underdeveloped vocal cords, making them more susceptible to hoarseness due to crying or excessive noise exposure. If your baby’s hoarseness is due to crying, giving them a break from overstimulation and speaking in a soft, calming voice can help alleviate the hoarseness.

8. Teething

When babies start teething, they often produce more saliva, which can lead to throat irritation and hoarseness. Giving them a clean, cool teething toy or cloth to chew on can help soothe the irritation and relieve hoarseness

9. Congenital laryngeal stridor

Some babies are born with a condition called congenital laryngeal stridor, also known as congenital high airway obstruction syndrome, which can cause hoarseness and breathing difficulties.

10. Vocal Cord Paralysis

Rarely, a baby’s hoarse voice may be due to vocal cord paralysis, which can be caused by injury during delivery or a congenital condition. This can cause difficulty breathing, swallowing, or speaking, and requires prompt medical attention.

Most of the causes mentioned above lead to temporary hoarseness of voice in babies. Therefore, parents might need to wait it out while they continue feeding the baby enough fluids to provide relief from dryness in the throat. However, some cases might need medical attention. Read on to know when you should take your little one to the doctor for treatment.

How Long Does Hoarse Voice In Babies Last?

If your baby’s adorable little voice suddenly turns hoarse, you might wonder how long it’ll last. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. While some cases of hoarseness in babies may resolve on their own within a few days, others can last for a week or more.

The duration of hoarseness in babies depends on the underlying cause of the condition. For instance, if it’s due to a respiratory infection, it could take up to two weeks for the hoarseness to clear up. On the other hand, if it’s due to excessive crying, the hoarseness may go away within a few days with proper rest and soothing.

Regardless of the cause, it’s always a good idea to consult your baby’s doctor if you notice persistent hoarseness, difficulty breathing, or other symptoms. Remember, a hoarse baby voice might sound cute, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

When Should Your Baby Undergo Treatment for Hoarseness?

When hoarseness is generally a result of natural reasons, it tends to fade away in a few hours to a couple of days. But, it should not be ignored if it goes on for too long. You must therefore get in touch with a doctor to get the cause diagnosed, and understand treatment options if the hoarseness doesn’t subside in 2 to 3 days. Visiting a doctor is also advisable if you notice any of the signs given below:

  • The voice keeps changing frequently over the next couple of days.
  • The hoarseness tends to stay as it is, for nearly a month.
  • The child starts having difficulty breathing properly.
  • There seems to be a lump-like formation in the throat region.
  • The child coughs a lot and throws up blood, intermittently.

In the next section, we shall talk a little more on the treatment options available for hoarseness in babies.

Hoarse Voice Treatment Options for Infants

Hoarse Voice Treatment Options for Infants

Your little one’s hoarse voice can be quite disconcerting for you and be irritating for the child as well. Based on what the diagnosis for hoarseness might be, there are a bunch of treatment options that can be undertaken to alleviate hoarseness or heal the condition.

1. Hoarseness Due to Crying

For a baby who has a hoarse throat due to crying excessively, it is important to not cause further stress on the cords. Hold your baby and hum a song to soothe him as soon as you can. Try to lull your baby to sleep, so that he can take some rest, or give a bottle of milk to calm him down.

2. Hoarseness Due to Nodules

Surgery is usually avoided for babies, and focus is put on soothing the vocal cords. By opting for humidification procedures, reducing allergy triggers, as well as clearing sinuses, the nodules present on the vocal cords can be reduced. However, the final call depends on a case-to-case basis and the treating doctor.

3. Hoarseness Due to Phlegm

Phlegm begins by obstructing the nasal passage in the first place. So, it is necessary to clear out the cold present in the nose using nasal sprays/saline solutions and a nasal aspirator. Phlegm is often the result of an illness or a viral infection, which reduces once it is treated.

4. Hoarseness Due to Acid Reflux

The hoarseness caused in such a case cannot be taken care of right away. The key aspect here is to reduce acid reflux by instilling a fixed diet plan and making sure your child’s digestive processes are streamlined.

5. Hoarseness Due to RRP

Since this is the result of an infection caused by a virus, your doctor might suggest a medication that can combat the virus. In severe cases, surgery might also be required.

6. Hoarseness Due to a Tumour

On detection of a tumour, your doctor will undertake tests to check whether it is a cancerous tumour or not. Depending on that, treatment options might include countering cancer or undertaking surgery to remove the tumour.

Tips on Caring for Hoarse Voice in Babies

Though it is advised to consult a doctor for hoarseness, there are certain steps and precautions you can take to promote healing and reduce discomfort in your baby.

1. Restrict and Ease Strain on Vocal Cords

To avoid your baby straining or overusing his vocal cords, try various methods of relaxing him/her, such as swaddling, singing, humming a melody, etc. As your baby grows, initiate silent time wherein he can read, write, or play silently for a set time, and encourage him to speak in a low voice.

2. Ensure Your Baby Is Hydrated

Making sure your baby is hydrated should be of utmost importance because it reduces hoarseness. Mothers can schedule short and frequent breastfeeding sessions for infants, while for older babies, they can ensure their kids sip on enough water throughout the day to remain hydrated.

3. Restrict Exposure to Polluted Environments and Vaccinate Regularly

Exposure to smoke from cigarettes and pollution can cause breathing issues, as well as conditions that cause hoarseness in babies. Additionally, regular vaccinations strengthen their immune system and build resistance to viruses and germs that cause sickness that could lead to hoarseness.

4. Use a Humidifier

Adding moisture to the air can soothe your baby’s dry, irritated throat, and help them breathe more easily. Plus, it’ll make the room feel like a spa!

5. Use Saline Drops

Saline drops can help relieve nasal congestion, which can contribute to a hoarse voice in babies. You can administer saline drops using a dropper or spray bottle

6. Offer Soothing Liquids

Warm liquids like chicken broth, apple juice, or chamomile tea can help soothe your baby’s sore throat and provide much-needed hydration. However, be sure to check with your baby’s doctor before giving them any new liquids

When To Call The Doctor?

As a parent, it’s natural to worry about your baby’s health, and knowing when to call a doctor can be tricky. However, if your baby sounds hoarse and the hoarse voice persists for more than two weeks, or if they are experiencing any other symptoms like fever, difficulty breathing, or a persistent cough, it’s important to seek medical advice. Additionally, if your baby is showing signs of dehydration like dry mouth or fewer wet diapers, or if they are refusing to eat or drink, you should call their doctor right away. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your baby’s health, so don’t hesitate to reach out to their doctor if you have any concerns. With the right care and attention, your baby  will be back to their happy, healthy self in no time!


1. Does Thrush Causes Hoarse Voice In Babies?

Thrush is a common fungal infection that can affect babies’ mouths and throats. While it can cause discomfort and difficulty swallowing, it typically does not cause hoarseness. However, in rare cases, thrush can lead to a condition called laryngeal candidiasis, which can cause hoarseness, coughing, and difficulty breathing. If you suspect your baby has thrush or is experiencing any unusual symptoms, it’s important to seek medical advice from their doctor. They can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend the best course of treatment to get your little one feeling better in no time.

2. Why Does My Baby Sound Like Hoarse But Not Sick?

As a parent, it’s natural to be concerned when your baby’s voice is hoarse or sounds a bit off. However, it’s important to remember that not all cases of hoarseness in babies are a sign of illness. In fact, it’s quite common for babies to develop hoarseness due to factors like crying, excessive use of their vocal cords, or teething. These things can cause their vocal cords to become strained or irritated, leading to hoarseness. In most cases, the hoarseness will resolve on its own within a few days or weeks. However, if you are ever concerned about your baby’s health or if the hoarseness persists for an extended period, it’s always best to reach out to their doctor for advice.

When it comes to understanding the cause of hoarseness in babies, there may not be other symptoms present to provide a clear picture of the reason behind the condition. Usually, taking stock of the infant’s behaviour prior to the hoarse voice might contain the clues you need. Treatment options then become pretty straightforward.


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2. Hoarseness in Children. https://familydoctor.org/condition/hoarseness-in-children/. MedlinePlus. (2021, January 12).

3. Hoarseness. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003049.htm. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2015, July).

4. Hoarseness in Children. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/ear-nose-throat/Pages/Hoarseness-in-Children.aspx. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2015, June).

5. Teething: 4 to 7 Months. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/teething-tooth-care/Pages/Teething-4-to-7-Months.aspx. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. (n.d.).

6. Vocal Fold Paralysis. https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/vocal-fold-paralysis. MyHealth Alberta. (n.d.).

7. Hoarse Voice in Children. https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Health/aftercareinformation/pages/conditions.aspxhwid=bu1297. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2018).

8. Caring for a Hoarse Voice. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/ear-nose-throat/Pages/Caring-for-a-Hoarse-Voice.aspx. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2021).

9. Thrush in Infants. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/diapers-clothing/Pages/Thrush-in-Infants.aspx.

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