9 Natural Toddler Cough Remedies
How to Help a Toddler Cough
"Cough suppressants may actually be harmful. They make some kids hyperactive, dizzy, and restless at bedtime," says Catherine Tom-Revzon, PharmD, 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. Nonetheless, all that hacking can leave your kid's throat irritated, so try some of these safe, natural home remedies for cough for kids.
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. But never give honey to babies younger than 1; they can get botulism from bacteria in it.
Chicken Noodle Soup
It's more than an old folk remedy: Research shows that chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties. Its warm temperature also acts as a vaporizer, helping to loosen mucus in the nasal passages.
Hot or Cold Drinks
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 decaffeinated tea mixed with honey.
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 kid with a cough-inducing scratchy throat.
Keep a cool-mist humidifier in your child's room to help loosen chest and nasal congestion, which is a great remedy for toddler coughing at night. 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; $39.86).
Salt Water Gargle
One of the most simple 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 cough-causing throat irritation. (Note: This should only be given to older toddlers, who can be trusted to spit out the solution without swallowing it.)
Elevate your toddler’s head with an extra pillow at night; this will open her airways so mucus can drain. As a home remedy for baby cough, raise the head of the crib mattress by placing a wedge or pillow under the mattress. (But call your doctor for any cough if your child is younger than 4 months.)
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; $14.97).
If your child is older than 2, you can clear congestion with a chest rub, like Vicks BabyRub. The product—which contains aloe, eucalyptus, lavender, and rosemary—might help your toddler achieve a better night’s sleep. (Try Vicks BabyRub Soothing Vapor Ointment; $5.44).