How to Treat a Toddler's Nighttime Cough

Nighttime coughing is frustrating for parents and toddlers. It interferes with your toddlers sleep, making it difficult to get some much needed rest. The Food and Drug Administration, however, doesn't recommend cough medication for toddlers, reports the Mayo Clinic. This leaves parents with the challenge of making their toddler comfortable at night. A few treatments can help you moisten your toddler's airways and ease a nighttime cough.

Doctor checking a toddler's throat Credit: Naomi Bassitt/iStock/Getty Images


For toddlers over the age of 2 years, honey is an effective cough suppressant, reports the Mayo Clinic. Mix about 2 tsp. of honey with lemon water at bedtime. Repeat this as needed to ease your toddler's nighttime cough. Never give honey to a child under the age of 1 year; kids this age are at increased risk for botulism, a serious type of food poisoning, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Cool Mist Vaporizer

Dry air can make your toddler's cough worse at night. A cool mist vaporizer adds moisture to your toddler's air. Place the vaporizer away from bedding and clothing. This will prevent mold growth in fabrics. Also, follow the manufacture instructions for operating. Cleaning the water daily is important for keeping bacteria and mold out of your toddler's air. If your toddler still has problems at night, another option is a steamy room. Turn the shower to hot. Leave the shower running for several minutes. Come back with your toddler and sit in the room for a few minutes. Your toddler's airways should be open, relieving a cough. Never leave your toddler alone in the bathroom.


Don't give your child cough drops or hard candy for her cough. These medications aren't recommended in children under the age of 3 years because of choking hazards. If she has a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, talk with your doctor about using a fever reducer. Don't give a fever reducer with a low-grade fever unless your doctor recommends it.

Medical Care

Your toddler needs medical care if she experiences wheezing with her nighttime cough, recommends the Mayo Clinic. If she has a fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit with her cough, contact her doctor for medical advice. A child who has difficulty breathing or coughs up blood or pink phlegm needs emergency care. When in doubt, always contact your pediatrician. He will help you determine if your child needs medical attention for her nighttime cough.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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