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Cold and Flu Center

My 1-Year-Old Has a Bad Cough

author image Nicki Howell
Nicki Howell started her professional writing career in 2002, specializing in areas such as health, fitness and personal finance. She has been published at health care websites, such as HealthTree, and is a ghostwriter for a variety of small health care organizations. She earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Portland State University.
My 1-Year-Old Has a Bad Cough
Seek medical attention if child has a high fever. Photo Credit: Dangubic/iStock/Getty Images

A cough occurs when a child’s body is responding to irritants in airways. This usually occurs due to an upper respiratory infection. During the first two years of life, more kids get upper respiratory infections than any other illness, reports the American Academy of Pediatrics. If your 1-year-old has a bad cough, you can take steps to make her more comfortable. It’s also important to look for potential warnings signs of a more serious illness.

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A humidifier moistens the air in your child’s room, easing her uncomfortable cough. Place the humidifier away from bedding and clothing. This reduces the risk of mold forming in your child’s room. Also, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for using the humidifier. Usually, you need to change water daily to prevent bacteria and mold growth from being dispersed into the air.

Steamy Room

Create a steamy bathroom by turning on the hot water in the shower and leave the bathroom for several minutes. Return with your child and sit in the room for a few minutes. Leave the bathroom and repeat this process as necessary to open your child’s airways.

If it is cooler outside, you can also try going outdoors for a few seconds after leaving the bathroom. The cold air will open airways further and provide additional relief. Never leave your child unattended in the bathroom.


Cold medications shouldn't be used in 1-year-olds, according to These medications also can have serious side effects, including convulsions and rapid heart rate. Herbal cough remedies are available over-the-counter. However, these products aren’t monitored by the Food and Drug Administration. Never give your child a medication without consulting her pediatrician first.

Medical Attention

If your 1-year-old is having difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately. Also, if she has a fever of 102 degrees Fahrenheit or higher with a cough, it’s important to seek medical care. Other red flags include a child who isn’t eating or drinking or is coughing hard enough to cause vomiting. You should also get medical advice if her cough lasts longer than a week, recommends

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