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It can be so frustrating when your toddler has a cough and you don’t know what you can do for them. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under 3 years of age not be given any over-the-counter cold or cough medications. The common cold often causes a cough in toddlers as the mucus builds up in their throat. They don’t know how to blow their nose yet so it is made that much worse by the mucus build up in their nasal passages. A cough is often most severe at night when they are lying down and the mucus builds up even more.

My daughter just recently had a cold with a bad cough. I felt so bad for her, she was so tired from not sleeping well because of the cough. I wanted to do something for her to make her feel a little better so I did a little research on natural cough remedies for toddlers.

If you find yourself with a toddler who has a stubborn cold and cough here are a few remedies you can try:

  • Elevate their mattress by placing a couple (or so) pillows under one end of the mattress. This will keep them a little bit upright while they sleep and help prevent so much mucus from pooling in their throat causing them to cough.
  • Use a humidifier or cold-mist vaporizer in their room to help keep the air moist. Moist air is helpful for congestion and coughing.
  • Use a vapor rub. Look for one that is safe for toddlers. I’ve heard it is a good idea to rub it on their feet and put socks on them. That way they get the benefit of the vapor rub without the risk of putting it in their mouth.
  • A spoonful of honey. Honey has been shown to be very effective in relieving a cough. You child must be over 1 year of age before they can have honey so this remedy won’t work for babies. If you child is over a year old give him or her 1/2 a teaspoon of honey.
  • A warm bath in a warm/moist room. Run the shower in the bathroom with the door closed for a few minutes to heat up the room and make the air very moist. Then run a bath and let your little one play in the bath for a little while. This will help break up the mucus and is very relaxing for them.
  • Use a bulb syringe and saline solution to clear out their nasal passages. Most toddlers won’t cooperate, but if they do; tilt their head back a bit, put 10-15 drops of saline solution into each nostril, use the bulb syringe to remove the mucus and saline. Don’t fit your toddler, if they don’t cooperate with this one try something else.
  • Give them lots of fluids. This will help keep them hydrated during their cold and will also help break up the mucus in their throat that is causing the cough.

A stubborn cough can be so frustrating, especially when it interferes with your child’s ability to sleep. Try a few things to see what works best for your child. My daughter liked the honey (it tasted good and seemed to work well at alleviating her cough so she could fall asleep). I also find the warm bath in the warm, moist bathroom works well to.

Talk to your doctor if you are worried about your child’s cough at all, or if it persists longer than their cold symptoms.

Do you have any tried and true home remedies that have worked for your little one’s cough? Please share them.

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67 Responses to Cough Remedies for Toddlers

  • melia says:

    Anyone know why not to use a warm vaporizer anymore?

  • Melia,

    They are not recommended because they can be dangerous. My daughter’s pediatrician actually does recommend them as the warm mist tends to help better than cool mist.

  • Mommy Mira says:

    Hi Mom’s! My toddler can’t sleep at night. His cough causes him to vomit. What should I do? Thank you!

  • Mommy Mira,

    Have you called his doctor about the cough? With a cough that bad they may prescribe something so he can sleep at night and not vomit. I hope he is feeling better soon.

  • anna says:

    It is good for your baby to vomit because that is there way of coughing up all the flem that they need to get out of there systems.

  • Helpful info. Fortunate me I discovered your web site accidentally, and I am stunned why this twist of fate did not happened earlier! I bookmarked it.

  • Stephanie says:

    Thanks for the great advice. I thought my child was the only one that always got a nasty cough with a cold! Now I have some other ideas to help. Thanks again!

  • Harjeet says:

    Thoughtful and enlightening advice. My daughter (2.5yrs old) is suffering from the stuck phlegm thing every night. I really feel bad for her. Have sought medical advice from a pediatric in Ampang but still no obvious improvement.
    Just rubbed Vicks vaporub on her chest, at the back and on the feet. Hope she’ll recover soon.

  • Miss preety says:

    My daughter had a cold recently and i sort the advice of my mom.She Prepared a mixture of Pure coconut oil,Soft Candle,and red Lavender.She mixed those together and rubbed my toddlers chest ,back and the middle of head.Within minutes her nasal passage was cleared and she was breathing better,and she coughed less.Pure soft candle applied directly on her nose and chest will clear a conjested nose in less than a minute.Its the most effective remedy i know of.

  • sarah katawicz says:

    My 3 year old daughter has had a really bad head cold and a bad cough for 10 days now. The cough was worse at night even with her head propped up in bed. I was using the saline spray and bulb syringe but could never get anything out. I gave her honey and nothing was working. Every morning she would cough for at least a half hour straight after getting up since everything in her head was draining down. She would even throw up from coughing so bad. Took her to the doctors and since she’s under age 4 I can’t give her any otc cough medicines. I was sitting up last night listening to her constantly coughing in bed and feeling so bad for her.I grabbed my phone and went online looking to see if there was anything that would possibly help her. I can’t believe what I found. So at 12:30 this morning I got my vicks vapor rub out and I put a thick layer on the bottom of my daughters feet and put her socks on. I sat and waited for her to cough meantime I’m reading tons of peoples comments on how well this works. Before I knew it an hour had gone by and my daughter didn’t cough once. She slept for 5 straight hours with no coughing!!!! This works amazing I wish I knew about it a long time ago. Even if you are skeptical about it just try it, it can’t hurt. I am looking forward to her and I finally getting some sleep tonight and I will make sure from this day on, I will have ajar of vapor rub in the house at all times. I hope if anyone reads this and tries it that it helps you as much as it as helped my daughter and a big THANK YOU TO VICKS VAPOR RUB who would of ever thought putting it on feet would stop coughing. You learn something new everyday!!!!!

  • Heya i’m for the first time here. I came across this board and I find It truly useful & it helped me out much. I hope to give something back and aid others like you aided me.

  • Diana Lassiter says:

    I am here for the first time and my daughter has the same issue as coughing where her reflux act up when she coughs. Is there anything i could do for her.. My daughter is sixteen months and i am a concerned mother..

  • karuna says:

    Good information. All the possible remedies in one place. Would like to share one remedy few mashed tulsi leaves, 4 seeds of black peeper powder, few jeera, pinch of turmeric powder , sugar for taste and little water, 1 mashed garlic piece, boil all togather and filter it. Once it is warm give to your kid. It works for cold and cough.

  • Mias Mom says:

    My 4y/o has been on everything imaginable since about November. Antibiotics, inhaler, & Tammy Flu. She gets better for a while and the all to familiar congestion begins that follows with a cough. She attends daycare, which I know may be a contributing factor. Now we are faced with phlegmie caugh’ that seems stuck in her throat, as you she breaths & it’s more prevalent at night …HELP. I did the coolhumidifier but it makes the room uncomfortably cold & don’t feel like it helps much. So besides heating element being a safety concern should a child come in contact with a warm humidifier, why aren’t they used anymore? I feel it’s equivalent to when putting a child in a warm bath…isn’t it? , plus they don’t make the room temperature even colder especially in the winter, & some warm humidfiers (like mine) have the vapor compartment where you can put vicks in liquid form. So is this just a personal prefrence? or is cold humidifiers the new trend? Any information you can provide would be helpful.

  • Sherren says:

    The only reason they tell u to use a cool one is because of the danger of a warm one. I agree and feel that the cool mist doesn’t help. I have been using a warm one for about a year now . I set up the play pen in the bed room and place the warm humidifier in the center of the play pen with the cord butted up against a wall. As long as your little one doesn’t know or attempt to climb INTO the playpen it works great.

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