The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages the use of over-the-counter cough medications, including expectorants and cough suppressants, for children under the age of 6. Medications carry a risk of serious side effects in this age group and may not be effective for young children. Fortunately, most coughs are caused by a virus and clear up on their own. If your child is suffering from a dry cough, there are some steps that you can take at home to nurse him back to health.
Give your child plenty of liquids to drink. These can moisturize and soothe a sore, scratchy throat.
Feed your child chicken soup that contains garlic. David Becker, MD, the assistant clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco, Department of Pediatrics, suggests that this combination carries antiviral properties, and your child may feel better faster.
Offer your child cough drops or lozenges, but only if she is over the age of three. Before that, cough drops pose a choking hazard. Lozenges containing zinc may shorten the duration of her illness. Those containing menthol or eucalyptus can help to relieve a dry cough.
Moisturize your child's throat and nasal passages by putting her in a steamy bathroom or running a vaporizer. The moisture may calm down a dry, tickling throat and may reduce coughing.
Give your child a teaspoon of honey. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, honey works as well as over-the-counter cough suppressants at easing a cough. Mix the honey in a mug of herbal tea or warm water.
Call your child's pediatrician if she is having difficulty breathing, coughs up blood, has a fever or is under the age of three months old.