8 Natural and Home Cough Remedies for Kids Every Parent Should Know
The FDA and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recommend against giving children over-the-counter cough medicine. To get your child cough-free (and get you back to your normal sleep routine), check out these home remedies for children’s coughs.
Soothe with honey
If you’re looking for a natural cough suppressant for toddlers, you can’t go much more natural than honey. Giving your child a spoonful of honey before bed can sooth sore throats, ease coughs, and make for a very happy toddler. Keep in mind this should not be used for infant cough remedies, as children under age one can become very sick from ingesting honey. Here are more amazing medicinal benefits of honey.
Up the fluids
Any fluids—but especially warm fluids—are great soothers when your toddler has a cough. Keeping your child hydrated helps to thin out all that mucous, making it easier to cough up. Warm fluids, like broth or warm apple cider, have the added benefit of soothing a sore throat, increasing the flow of mucus, and loosening lodged mucus. Try making a special “lemonade” of warm water with the juice of a lemon and a few tablespoons of honey. The lemon works a double benefit by dulling the sweetness of the soothing honey and adding a boost of vitamin C. (Though remember, no honey for children under a year.) For children under six months, stick with breast milk or formula.
Keep things steamy
Running a humidifier in your child’s room at night helps to moisten nasal passages and shrink them, allowing for easier breathing when your toddler has a cough. Opt for the cool-mist type of humidifier, as warm mist humidifiers can have the opposite effect, making the nasal passages swell and making breathing more difficult. Be sure to clean the humidifier regularly and change the water daily to avoid mold growth. Don’t have a humidifier? A warm bath can have the same effect. Or sit with your child in the bathroom with the shower running hot. You’ll create your own personal steam room and loosen up some of that pesky mucus.
Opt for a soothing treat
Giving your older child a hard candy or non-medicated cough drop can help with short-term relief from a nagging cough. Because these children’s cough remedies are choking hazards, they should not be given to younger children. For a double whammy treat that soothes the throat while providing hydration, break out the popsicles. These are the 10 medical reasons for your persistent coughing.
Get that snot out
Mucus can irritate or constrict the throat, causing more coughing. Using over-the-counter saline nasal drops can help loosen it up. If your child does not yet know how to blow her nose, you can follow up with a nasal suction bulb. Older children may be able to use a neti pot. The neti pot looks like a small watering can, which you fill with saline water. You then pour the solution through one nostril and out the other, moisturizing the nasal passages and rinsing away mucus for a natural cough suppressant for toddlers.
Gargling with warm salt water is not something anyone looks forward to, but it’s stood the test of time for a reason: It’s effective. If your child is old enough to know not to swallow the briny stuff—usually at least four years old—this is a great choice for a natural cough suppressant. Add one-half to one teaspoon of salt to a glass of warm water. Stir well to dissolve, take a mouthful, and gargle for as long as your child can stand it— ideally, about a minute. Repeat as necessary (or as tolerated).
Open up the chest with a rub
When your toddler has a cough, you can buy over-the-counter chest rubs, like Vicks Baby Rub. Be sure to avoid the face area, especially mouth, nose and eyes. If you like to keep things a bit more natural, you can create your own rub with a mixture of oils, beeswax pastilles, and age-appropriate essential oils. Keep in mind that some essential oils—like eucalyptus and peppermint—are not recommended for young children.
Up the angle
Lying flat makes a cough worse because it prevents the mucus from draining down. This is why you may notice a sudden uptick in coughing in your toddler at bedtime. Lifting the head can help. For babies, try putting pillows or a rolled up towel underneath the head of the mattress, or even a board or a few books under the legs of the crib to give a slight angle. (Don’t put pillows in the crib, as this may pose a suffocation risk.) For toddlers, an extra pillow or two may do the trick to help ease their cough. Try these other natural cough remedies for kids and adults.