Skip to main content

Warning notification:Warning

Unfortunately, you are using an outdated browser. Please, upgrade your browser to improve your experience with HSE. The list of supported browsers:

  1. Chrome
  2. Edge
  3. FireFox
  4. Opera
  5. Safari

Pneumonia - Babies and children - Pneumonia

Your child can get pneumonia straight after fighting off another infection, such as a cold or flu.

Take your child to your GP immediately if you think they have pneumonia.

Emergency action required: Call 999, 112 or go to your nearest emergency department (ED) if:

  • your child is having difficulty breathing or is breathing very rapidly
  • your child’s lips or tongue are blue

Signs and symptoms of pneumonia in your child

Your child's symptoms may start suddenly or gradually over a few days.

They include:

  • a high temperature
  • shortness of breath or fast breathing
  • a cough - it may be dry or they may cough up yellow, brown or green mucus (phlegm)
  • chest pain
  • feeling very tired
  • being irritable

Signs of pneumonia in your child include:

  • their nostrils get wider when they breathe
  • they use their tummy muscles more than usual for breathing
  • they make wheezing noises when they breathe - babies may make grunting noises
  • their ribs 'suck in' as they breathe
  • they are not drinking as much as usual or refusing drinks

Tests your child may need

Your GP may be able to diagnose your child with pneumonia by examining them and listening to their chest with a stethoscope.

Sometimes your GP will order tests to help them check if your child has pneumonia.

These might include blood tests or a chest x-ray. You can stay with your child while these tests are being done.

Treatment for pneumonia

Your GP will prescribe antibiotics if your child's pneumonia is caused by bacteria.

Antibiotics will not help your child if the pneumonia is caused by a virus. Pneumonia caused by a virus is not usually as serious.

If your child is very ill or vomiting, they may need go to hospital for treatment.

In hospital, your child will be given fluids and antibiotics directly into their vein through a drip. They may also be given oxygen to help them breathe.

Preparing your child for hospital

How to care for a child with pneumonia

There are things you can do to help your child recover from pneumonia.


  • let them rest

  • give your child paracetamol or ibuprofen for children to help with pain or a high temperature - do not give ibuprofen to a baby under 3 months

  • offer feeds more often if you are breastfeeding or bottle-feeding

  • make sure your child is drinking plenty of fluids

  • make sure your child is up to date with their vaccines - many of them help prevent pneumonia

  • teach your child not to share other people's cups and cutlery


  • do not smoke or let anyone else smoke around your child

  • do not give cough medicine to your child if they are under 6 (unless your GP tells you to)

Page last reviewed: 21 June 2023
Next review due: 21 June 2026

Slaintecare logo
This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 8.