Easy Remedies to Help a Child With a Cough 

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By In The Playroom

As a mum of 4 who has navigated the maze of coughs and colds, I know how worrisome a child’s cough can be. Whether it’s a dry cough rattling through the quiet of the night or a persistent cough accompanied by a runny nose, each cough echoes a parent’s concern.

Young children, especially those under 5 years of age, are often vulnerable to various respiratory ailments. From the common cold to more serious conditions like respiratory syncytial virus or bacterial infections, understanding the different types of coughs and their remedies is crucial. 

In this article, I’ll share some friendly, easy-to-understand tips to help ease your child’s cough this winter. 

home remedies for a child's cough, how to help your child with a cough

Table of Contents

List of Remedies to Help Your Child with a Cough

Let’s take a look at some of the steps you can take at home to make your child feel more comfortable while he or she has a cough.

There are a few things that you can try beyond over the counter cough medicine or cough syrup, that could help your child sleep better, or help ease your toddler cough. If you’re still worried, always get medical advice to be on the safe side. 

Hydration is Key

Always ensure your child drinks plenty of fluids. Warm water can soothe a sore throat and help with hydration. For children over a year of age, a teaspoon of honey in warm water can be comforting. Don’t use excessively hot water for very young children, to avoid the risk of burning, but something nice and warm can be very soothing especially with honey and lemon. 

hydration for a cough

Hydrating not only helps in soothing the throat but also in thinning out excess mucus, making it easier for your child to clear their airways.

Humidify the Air

Using a cool-mist humidifier in your child’s room can help ease coughs by moistening the dry air. This is particularly helpful in cases of dry cough and irritation in the back of the throat.

A cool mist humidifier can be particularly effective during colder months when heating systems tend to dry out the air, aggravating coughs and cold symptoms.

humidifier for cough

Using Steam

For older children, sitting in a bathroom with hot shower running can help alleviate cough symptoms.

The steam helps in loosening mucus in the nasal passages and lower airways.

A steamy bathroom mimics the effects of a humidifier, helping to open up your child’s upper airway and ease a nighttime cough

Nasal Care

Saline drops or a suction bulb can be used to clear nasal congestion in younger children. This can provide relief, especially from coughs caused by post-nasal drip.

For infants and small children, a bulb syringe can gently remove nasal congestion, and saline nasal drops can be used to soften mucus

Avoid Irritants

Keep your child away from tobacco and cigarette smoke, as these can exacerbate coughing and irritate the respiratory tract.

Exposure to tobacco smoke can weaken a child’s immune system and exacerbate respiratory illnesses, leading to a more severe or chronic cough

Honey for Cough Relief

A small dose of buckwheat honey for children over a year of age can work wonders as a natural cough suppressant. Remember, honey is not safe for children under one year due to the risk of botulism.

Honey coats and soothes the irritated vocal cords, providing relief from acute coughs.

honey for a cough

Medication with Caution

While cough and cold medicines may seem like a good idea, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against using them for younger children and toddlers.

While it’s recommended to always consult your child’s doctor before administering any medication, you can also ask the pharmacist for advice they can normally help with things like a regular cough.

medicine for a cough

Over-the-counter cough medicines should be used with caution, especially in children under six years of age.

Seek Medical Attention When Necessary

If your child exhibits symptoms like high fever, difficulty breathing, or signs of dehydration, it’s time to seek professional medical care.

Persistent or chronic coughs also warrant a visit to a healthcare professional.

If your child’s cough is accompanied by high temperature or shortness of breath, it may be indicative of a more serious condition, such as a bacterial or viral infection.

doctor for a cough

Comfort and Rest

Ensure your child gets plenty of rest. Keeping the head elevated can help ease a cough, especially at night.

Ensure the child’s head is elevated while sleeping to help alleviate postnasal drip and chesty coughs

rest for a cough

Warmth and Comfort

Dress your child in comfortable clothes and keep the environment warm but not hot. Warm fluids can also help soothe a scratchy throat.

If the cough is due to a common cold, keeping the child warm can help alleviate symptoms and improve their ability to sleep through the night.

wrap up warm for a cough kids

Causes and Types of Cough

After exploring the list of remedies, it’s important to understand the nuances of a child’s cough. Recognizing the type of cough – whether it’s a regular, dry cough or a wet cough full of mucus – is crucial in determining the right course of action. 

In cases of allergic rhinitis or sinus infections, employing saline nose drops can effectively clear nasal passages, thereby easing the child’s cough.

For older toddlers, vapor rubs gently applied to the chest and back can provide much-needed relief from cough and cold symptoms. Brand like Vicks vapor rub, or snuffle babe for the younger ones, can be really soothing. 

kids cough

When it comes to sick kids, vigilance is key, especially for very young children. A persistent or chronic cough, particularly one that disrupts a child’s sleep or is accompanied by a gag reflex, may indicate more serious conditions, such as respiratory tract infections, and requires immediate medical attention. Parents should also be cautious about the use of cough drops, which can be helpful for older children to soothe their throat but are not suitable for younger kids due to choking risks.

Understanding external factors like environmental irritants is vital. Exposure to tobacco smoke, for instance, can weaken a child’s immune system and exacerbate respiratory illnesses, leading to more severe or chronic coughs. During colder months, when heating systems tend to dry out the air, a cool mist humidifier can be particularly effective in mitigating coughs and cold symptoms by moistening the dry air.

In cases where the cough might indicate a foreign object in the child’s airways, immediate medical attention is crucial. Over-the-counter cough medicines, while tempting, should be used with caution and preferably under medical guidance, especially in children under six years of age, due to potential serious side effects. This underscores the importance of not just treating the cough, but understanding its cause and the best ways to address it, ensuring the health and well-being of your child.

With this comprehensive understanding, you can navigate through the various symptoms and types of coughs more confidently, to understand the cause of the cough and get on with providing your child with the best possible care. Remember, every child is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Stay attentive, trust your instincts, and don’t hesitate to seek professional advice when needed.

child with a cough

Navigating a child’s cough can be challenging, but with these home remedies and tips, you can provide some relief to your little one. Remember, each child and cough is different, and what works for one may not work for another. Always keep an eye on your child’s symptoms and consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns. With care and attention, your child will be on the road to recovery in no time. Remember, you’re doing a great job!

home remedies for child's cough

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Anna Marikar, mum of four and seasoned blogger, has spent over a decade sharing her parenting journey and passion for kid-friendly crafts and free printables.
Her easy-to-follow craft ideas and practical parenting advice have transformed In The Playroom into a cherished resource for parents.

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