The Best Ways to Get a Child to Stop Coughing

Mother sitting with daughter in bed
Coughing is a common symptom of many childhood illnesses. (Image: Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Treating your child's cough can be a challenge. Since 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recommended that parents avoid treating children's coughs with over-the-counter cough medication; the benefits of these medications doesn't outweigh potential drawbacks. Fortunately, it is possible to treat coughs effectively at home. Even if your child is old enough to safely take over-the-counter cough medications, consider trying the home remedies recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Step 1

Make your own cough syrup. For babies 3 months to 1 year of age, warm a little water, apple juice or other clear fluid. Give your baby between 1 and 3 teaspoons of the warm liquid, four times a day. Children over a year of age can benefit from 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of honey as needed. Do not give honey to any child under 12 months, as it may cause botulism. Unlike medications, there is no need to keep close track of the timing; you can give your child warm liquid or honey whenever she has a coughing fit. If your child is younger than 3 months, talk to your doctor first.

Step 2

Send your little one to the shower. Warm shower mist can help slow down coughing spasms. If your child enjoys showering, let him take frequent warm showers to calm his cough. If he isn't ready to shower on his own, sit in the bathroom with him and play quietly while a warm shower steams up the room.

Step 3

Add moisture to your home. Dry winter air can cause or aggravate coughs. Running a humidifier adds moisture to the air and can help quiet the cough. Humidifiers are particularly helpful in bedrooms, where the moist air can help your child get some restful sleep.

Step 4

Provide plenty of fluids. Water, juice and other fluids help keep your child hydrated and thin secretions, making coughs more productive and less painful.

Things You'll Need

  • Clear fluids

  • Honey (for children over 1)

  • Humidifier

Warning

Contact your doctor if your child's coughing is accompanied by difficulty breathing or noisy breathing, blue lips or face, coughing up blood or a high fever. Also, contact your doctor if your child seems unusually cranky or weak.

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