Appropriate management of cough in children depends upon accurate assessment. The diagnosis is often unclear at the initial presentation. Acute cough is frequently caused by a viral infection, and often no specific therapy is indicated. Urgent treatment may be needed if history suggests a more serious disorder such as a foreign body or pneumonia. When treating children with chronic cough, paediatric-specific algorithms should be used. Empirical use of medicines without looking for a specific cause should be avoided. In the absence of an alternative specific cause of cough, chronic wet cough (lasting at least four weeks) is most frequently due to protracted bacterial bronchitis. Antibiotics are indicated.