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Ways to Help My Toddler With a Cough & Runny Nose

author image Rose Welton
Rose Welton is a journalism major and a freelance writer. Her education is focused on nutrition and early childhood studies, making her an expert when it comes to writing about health and children's growth and development. She has written numerous articles and blog posts on various topics for online publications and has also worked on an Internet news team.
Ways to Help My Toddler With a Cough & Runny Nose
A female doctor gives cough syrup to a young girl. Photo Credit: Antonio_Diaz/iStock/Getty Images

Any number of things can cause your toddler to experience a cough and runny nose from a common cold to a more serious virus. In many cases, you can help relieve your toddler's symptoms at home. It is important to understand how to safely help your toddler and keep an eye out for signs indicating that he needs to see his doctor.

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Cough Remedies

To help break up chest congestion, turn on hot water in the shower and sit in the bathroom with your toddler with the door closed for about twenty minutes. Breathing in the hot steamy air might help relieve her cough. Read her a story or help her do a puzzle to pass the time. Try putting a humidifier in her room to moisten the air while she sleeps. To help prevent accidental burns, use a cool-mist humidifier instead of one that uses hot water. If possible, remove your toddler from environments with cough irritants, like smoke, pet hair and air fresheners.

Runny Nose Remedies

You might be able to loosen your toddler's nasal congestion with saline drops. You can find these drops at the drugstore. Follow the instructions on the packaging to put the drops into your toddler's nose, and then use a bulb syringe or nasal aspirator to suction the mucus out. You might have to use the drops and suction a few times a day until his runny nose is gone. BabyCenter recommends placing towels underneath the head of his mattress to help him sleep at a slight incline, which can relieve nasal drip. Try applying petroleum jelly to the outside of his nostrils to help combat irritation from a runny nose.


Be sure to consult your child's doctor before giving her any cough medicine or nasal sprays. These medicines may not be safe or effective for your child. If her doctor suggests that you try medication or nasal spray, be sure you choose a product that is appropriate for her age and follow the dosage information carefully. Avoid giving her cough drops until she is at least 3 years old because choking is a concern in younger children.


Call your child's doctor if his cough doesn't get better after a week, or if he is breathing rapidly, wheezing or coughs up blood. If your toddler has a fever of 103 degrees Fahrenheit in addition to his cough or runny nose, take him to the doctor. He might have an illness that needs extra care.

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