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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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68 Responses to Cough Remedies for Toddlers

  • Bella's Mom says:

    If your child does have a nasty cough,replace their milk with Rice Milk. It helps my daugther!

  • Thanks for the tip Bella’s Mom.

  • Amy says:

    Johnson & Johnson also makes a vapor bath for babies that seems to be effective.

  • Amy,

    Thanks for the tip. I’ve used the vapor bath with my daughter but haven’t noticed it helped much. However, I’ve heard from others that it worked for their kids. So, I say it is worth a shot if you little one is suffering with a cough or cold.

  • Katherine says:

    A teaspoon of lemon juice breaks up the mucus.

  • Katherine,

    Thanks so much for sharing your tip. My daughter has a cold right now with a lot of mucus. I think I’ll give the lemon juice thing a try.

  • Elizabeth says:

    I’ve been giving my son children’s ‘Throat Coat’ tea with honey added. I just let it cool off a bit and put it in his sippy. He loves it and the warm liquid really seems to help. Whole Foods carries it.

    I also put drops of eucalyptus oil on the shower wall while I steam it up. It’s more potent than some of the bubble baths I’ve tried.

  • Elizabeth,

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your tips. My daughter has a very stubborn cough right now, I definitely give that tea a try.

  • Joan says:

    Thanks for the tips ladies! My baby girl was coughing so bad she could not sleep and I gave her a warm bath, turned on her humidifier and rubbed vick’s on her. Let’s see if that helps, at least she’s not coughing right now.

  • Joan,

    I hope it all worked and your daughter (and you) got a good night’s sleep.

  • Thanks Moms! I just vapor rubbed my 30 mth old’s feet, gave her spoon of honey, and elevated her. She is sleeping now! If she wakes I will then do the saline and bulb! (I dread that) but, thank you so much for the info. And, tomorrow I am not coming back home without the tea! I am going to buy it! Thanks again. I am going to sleep!

  • Monica,

    So glad you little one is sleeping. Sometimes it takes try a few things until you find the thing that works. Hope she is feeling better soon.

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  • Anjali says:

    Ginger juice and honey. Eucalyptus oil. Vicks will be very helpful

  • Anjali,

    Thanks for sharing your tips. I’ll have to give those a try as my daughter has a stubborn cough right now and nothing else seems to be working.

  • Tammy Brown says:

    You can try 4 0unces of milk with a teaspoon of honey. Mix it and give it to the your child ,it works.

  • Tammy,

    Thanks for the great suggestion.

  • Bekka says:

    Thank you so much for all these tips!

  • Mopy911 says:

    Thank you so much for all these tips!
    i would like to share on mine. My mother had use something called ‘peppermint leaves’ to boil with water. She gave my daughter to drink it and she got a nice sleep at night!
    I’d try on so many medicine but seem this is most effective for my daughter..

  • armymum says:

    trying some of your remedies on my lil guy tonight…keeping my fingers crossed. thanks

  • armymum,

    I hope your little gets some relief.

  • komal says:

    my baby is 14week and she is having cough wat can i give her pls help???

  • Komal,

    There isn’t anything you can give her. Try a cold mist vaporizer in her room or bringing her in a steamy bathroom. If you are worried about it call her doctor as they may have additional recommendations.

  • Terri says:

    My son is 3 and I give him a warm bath then awarm cup of tea with honey and limon and then vapor rub and he is out

  • Doro says:

    Thank you ladies, I will try the warm bath, vapor rub & humidifier tonight! Hope BB(7mths) & I get some sleep tonight….

  • Alisha says:

    Thanks ladies :) My little girl (21 months) has had a cold for 6 weeks now. Cough has been horrendous all day. She cant get a break. We gave her a warm bath, vapour rub, and a mist vapourizer in her room and still has been coughing for the last 3 hours. We read all your tips and my husband is out getting honey right now! Going to try that as well as elevating the mattress and hope that helps her get some much needed Rest! Thanks again moms!

  • Wilhite says:

    The coolmist vaporizer is not helping my little guy and we have his bed elevated. He just turned a year, so I might try the honey. A cough with him just scares me half to death. He had early onset pneumonia in one of his lungs when he was only 4 months old…I’m always worried now that it’s the worst when he coughs hard. :(

  • Lenzy~Jaxson's Mommy says:

    I have tried pretty much every over-the-counter med out there and nothing touched my sons cough. We tried honey and it worked. It coated his troat enough for him to get a break and some sleep. I def recommend using honey!

  • AmandaMc says:

    My 3 yr old son just started daycare two mornings a week. He is hardly ever sick but I was told he would get sick at least once from daycare. He now has a bad cough, slight fever, and a lot of mucus. Last night he was coughing so much while trying to sleep that I was afraid he’d be exhausted in the morning. I found your advice online and elevated his mattress with two cushions, cleared his nose, and gave him a dose of pure honey. It did the trick right away! He was able to go to sleep with hardly any coughing. Thank you!

  • Van says:

    My toddler started his cold in early November and since then been coughing here and there during the daytime but worst at night with phlegm until now. Normally he would get better by the 2nd week but hasn’t gotten any better at all. I thought maybe he’ll get better in another week or so but now its been 6 weeks. I went to the pediatric urgent care yesterday and they think its just allergies. My son is 3 and he never reacted to any seasonal allergies before. So why now? I just have a hunched that its not allergies nor asthma. I know that all of my families and my husband’s families don’t have asthma and its more likely inherited if you do get one. The Dr don’t think its pneumonia since he didn’t hear anything while listening to his chest. He’s active, breathing normally and I just don’t know what to do anymore but possibly change to a different pediatrician Dr.

  • Van,

    It isn’t uncommon for allergies to not make an appearance until a child is 2-4 years old. However, if I were you I would probably get a second opinion just to be safe.

  • kyrielslight says:

    Van– You might want to try cutting out dairy from his diet for a couple of weeks. What you described sounds like the symptoms my friend’s daughter had. It turned out that she had a dairy allergy. This started when she was around 2, she is now 5 and has outgrown the allergy.

    If he doesn’t improve after a week or so of no milk you still won’t have done him any harm and you’ll save the cost (and trauma) of going to an allegist to rule it out.

  • proud mother of my roos says:

    Thanks for sharing the knowledge
    I’m bout to try it for my baby roo

  • Marian says:

    Just read all the post…my daughter has a horrible cough. Just used the vapor rub and elevated her pillows and now she is sleep. May try the honey tomorrow if needed. Also will be looking into bringing the humidifier into her room. Thanks!

  • Ms.JaKaKing says:

    Seems as though everyone in my house is catching some type of cold symptom. But mostly concerned of my lil one. He was diagnosted with Asthma before. Im believing that God has called him out of that place. So I’m treating it as a common cold. Now I’m running a hot shower for humidity. Then will put him in a bath. Then run out and get some honey once my husband gets back. Thanks for the suggestions because I’d so rather use these cures than OTC treatments. I don’t want their bodies to become immune to the meds. And I know it’s due to the weather as well. Here in Lynchburg, VA, we have had no snow, very few cold days. But when we have cold days they stay about 2 days or 3 then its warm again. Again thanks!!

  • Mae Mateum says:

    Thank you all so much for sharing these natural remedies. My son is having a hard time sleeping due to a horrible cough. I will try these suggestions and see which one works..

    Have a great Chrismas, everyone!

  • amy says:

    hi does any one know any other remedies for a cough i have tried the vaporizer and the honey and i lifted her head up a little with an extra pillow and she is still coughing it scares me a little i just dont know what to do she is only 3 so theres really no medicine out for her age please give me advise thanks…….

  • Stephania Andre says:

    When my daugter has cold I mixed red oignons with beets put some honey and some brown sugar it make some syrup I gave her spoon 3 times a days.

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  • wendy says:

    I liked all the replies. I used 1 teaspoon honey mixed with 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Heated it very very slightly. drew it up in a syringe,administered, and my daughter’s cough was gone immediately! Thank you for all the helpful info!

  • dave says:

    i don’t think a warm steam bath is prudent… especially when you are trying to hydrate your child. anything warm or causes sweating seems will only aggravate the cough…. eat a lot of fresh fruit and stay active.

  • Bob says:

    I tried to give my 2 year old son honey for his horribly persistent cough – he took one taste of it, then immediately vomited the entire contents of his stomach on my wife.

  • nikis dad says:

    My lil one has been coughing 2 nights now and humidifier/Vicks rub isn’t helping. But will try honey next, Wendy thanx for mentioning the syringe I was thinking how would half a sleep kid take a spoon of honey and now I know :)

  • ms morales says:

    my lil girl has had a coughand now for about 2 weeks and now it converted with phlegm, but its been four nights in a row when she starts coughing at night she trows up. whats is good? the dr gave her medication and its not working

  • Ms. Morales,

    I would give the doctor a call back and let them know that the meds are not working, perhaps there is something else they can prescribe her.

  • ashwini says:

    Thanks all moms. For coughing you can rub warm olive oil on chest.

  • Concerned Mom says:

    Thank you for all the suggestions. I will try honey mixed with lemon tonight. My 2 y/o has been coughing (no fever) for over 4 days. I used OTC med, but I’m very leary on using it. Glad to read about all the home remedies.

  • Kawindwe says:

    I use honey on 4yrs daughter and a few minutes she was coughing, but after administering honey she’s taken herself a sleep.

  • mommy corz says:

    I have a ten month old son and his been coughing so hard for a week, and his having hard time to sleep. what should I do?

  • Mommy Corz,

    I would call his doctor to see what they recommend. They may want to see him to figure out what the cause of the cough is and how best to treat it.

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