Many over-the-counter medicines pose dangers to children, and the Food and Drug Administration warns that children younger than 2 should never take decongestants. Honey, however, is an excellent natural remedy for coughing for children older than 1. Pediatrician and author William Sears points out that it may actually be more effective than other cough remedies. The amount and type of honey a child needs for cough relief depends on the child's age and weight.
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Type of Honey
The antioxidants in honey are an important contributor to its decongestant properties. Generally speaking, darker honey contains more antioxidants. Buckwheat and avocado honey are particularly good choices. If these honeys are not available in your area, choose the darkest honey you can find.
Amount of Honey
Give your child 1/2 teaspoon of honey for every 25 pounds of weight. Your child should consume honey four to five times each day. If your child is having an extreme coughing fit, give her honey during a lull in the coughing.
Dr. Sears advises avoiding honey if your child is younger than 1 year old. Microorganisms contained in honey can make babies sick. Additionally, infants do not have the necessary swallowing apparatus to eat honey and can choke on it.
Some children are allergic to honey, and honey allergies are increasing. If your child shows any signs of an allergic reaction such as swelling, hives or lethargy, call your pediatrician. Never give honey to a child who has a known honey allergy. Honey alone will not fight off a bacterial infection. It treats symptoms and boosts immunity, but children with strep throat, tonsillitis and other illnesses require medical care.
- "The Portable Pediatrician"; William Sears, et al.;2011
- "Caring For Your Baby and Young Child, 5th Edition"; American Academy of Pediatrics; 2009
- The New York Times: Nostrums: Nostrums: Tame a Child’s Cough With a Touch of Honey; Nikolas Bakolar
- "Health, Safety and Nutrition for the Young Child"; Lynn R. Marotz; 2011