9 Natural Toddler Cough Remedies

It's miserable to watch your toddler suffer when they're sick. Help them feel better with these home remedies for coughing in kids.

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yawning toddler boy in crib
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01 of 10

How to Soothe a Toddler's Cough

boy coughing outside
Tomsickova Tatyana/Shutterstock

First things first, it's helpful to know what not to do. If your child is coughing, don't reach for a cough suppressant. "Cough suppressants may actually be harmful. They make some kids hyperactive, dizzy, and restless at bedtime," says Catherine Tom-Revzon, PharmD, a pediatrics clinical pharmacy manager at the Children's Hospital at Montefiore in New York City. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) explains that cough suppressants may also be unsafe for those under 4 years old.

But just because you can't offer your toddler a cough suppressant doesn't mean there is nothing you can do. When your toddler is coughing and miserable, try some of these safe, natural home remedies for cough for kids.

02 of 10


Honey and Honeycombs

Studies have shown that honey is better than medicine for relieving coughs and helping a sick toddler sleep better. "Honey is safe for children age 1 and older, and kids are happy to take it because it tastes good," says researcher Ian Paul, M.D., a member of the AAP's clinical pharmacology and therapeutics committee.

Dark honey, such as buckwheat, may work best because it's higher in antioxidants. Give half a teaspoon to children ages 1 to 5 years and one teaspoon to kids ages 6 to 11. You can also add honey to warm water or herbal tea.

But skip this remedy for kids under 1: Experts say that you should never give honey to babies younger than 12 months as they are at increased risk of severe illness from certain bacteria that can be found in it.

03 of 10

Chicken Noodle Soup

chicken noodle soup
Scott Little

It's more than an old folk remedy: Research shows that chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties. Its warm temperature can soothe sore throats and also acts as a vaporizer, helping to loosen mucus in the nasal passages.

04 of 10

Hot or Cold Drinks

girl drinking apple juice

Warm or very cold liquids make excellent toddler cough remedies because they thin out mucus, which makes it easier to cough up. Plus, liquids soothe a raw throat and keep your little one hydrated. Have your child drink ice water, cold or warm juice, or warm caffeine-free herbal tea.

05 of 10

Soothing Treats

rainbow popsicles

Children age 4 and older can suck on sore throat or cough lozenges, sugar-free hard candies, or even frozen berries. A Popsicle or crushed ice are great choices for a younger kids with a cough-inducing scratchy throat.

06 of 10

Cool-Mist Humidifier

Vicks Filter Free Cool Mist Humidifier
Courtesy of Vicks

Keep a cool-mist humidifier in your child's room to help loosen chest and nasal congestion, which is a great remedy for nighttime coughing. Bacteria and mold grow quickly, so change the water daily and thoroughly clean the unit, following the manufacturer's instructions. Another good option: Have your child sit in a steamy bathroom or take a warm shower. (Try Vick's Filter Free Cool-Mist Humidifier).

07 of 10

Salt Water Gargle

Salt Shaker Spill Wooden Table

One of the simplest toddler cough remedies involves salt and water. Simply mix one-half teaspoon of salt with 8 ounces of water, then have your child gargle the solution. It should ease the throat irritation that often comes with coughing. (Note: This should only be given to older toddlers, who can be trusted to spit out the solution without swallowing it.)

08 of 10

Propped-Up Position

cough remedies for kids sleeping child

Elevate an older child's head with an extra pillow at night; this will open their airways so mucus can drain. (But call your doctor for any cough if your child is younger than 4 months.)

09 of 10

Saline Solution

Little Remedies Saline Spray
Courtesy of Amazon

Your toddler's cough may be caused by postnasal drip. Loosen up clogged mucus with a few drops of saline solution, then suck it out with a suction bulb. (Try Little Remedies Saline Spray and Drops).

10 of 10

Chest Rub

Vicks BabyRub Soothing Vapor Ointment
Courtesy of Vicks.com

If your child is older than 2, you can ease congestion with a chest rub, like Vicks BabyRub. The product—which contains aloe, eucalyptus, lavender, and rosemary—might help your toddler get a better night's sleep. (Try Vicks BabyRub Soothing Vapor Ointment).

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