9 Natural Ways to Stop Coughing in Kids

Jodi Meltzer | Oct 2, 2014 Big Kid

sick kid medicine
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A nagging cough can keep kids up all night long. And if the kids are up, that means Mom's up. Between administering cough medicine, taking temperatures, and begging the little ones to go back to sleep, it's always a pretty ugly scene. No one does well sacrificing sleep, and we want to send everyone back to bed so they can rest their cold away. So, what are some of the alternatives to those sleepless nights when the kiddos have a cough?

Well, a mother could flee to a hotel, of course, but unfortunately she would not win any mom of the year honors going that route. And she would probably hear her kid screaming "MOMMMMMMYYYYY" across town anyway.

More from CafeMom: 11 Genius Mom Hacks to Try When Kids Are Sick 

"A cough can be a little thing that becomes a big deal," said Carol Wilkinson, MD, PhD, a pediatrician at UCSF and Medical Director of Kinsights. "Coughing can not only be irritating, but it can keep a child from getting a restful night's sleep just when it's most needed." Yikes! And if the kids aren't getting their sleep, then how will Mom get her much-needed eight hours?

More from CafeMom: 15 No-Fail Ways to Stop Coughing Now

Check out the nine natural remedies to help quiet a child's cough so the little one can catch some zzzzzzzzzs!


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  • Drink Water

    1

    Staying hydrated is always a good idea. But when your kid has a cough that's caused by postnasal drip or a dry house, it's a great idea. Drinking water curbs cough symptoms by thinning out the mucus and keeping mucus membranes moist. "Make sure your child and your family drink plenty of fluids this winter," said Dr. Wilkinson. Basically, the more, the better ... and water is, by far, preferred. If your child will only drink juice, add water to it.

  • Steam

    2

    A steamy shower can help a nighttime cough. You can start a hot shower, close the door, and let the bathroom get steamy. Add a couple of drops of eucalyptus or sage to the shower stream or bath to soothe a cough. 

    "You can always fall back to good old steam," says Dr. Wilkinson. "Whether it’s a steamy shower or just the steam coming off a mug of hot water, breathing in moist, steamy air can help soothe and relieve the symptoms that are causing your child’s cough."

  • Drink Tea

    3

    Drinking warm tea soothes the throat. There are "throat coat" teas formulated for kids on grocery store shelves. "Soothing herbal teas can be a quick and easy cough reliever," says Dr. Wilkinson. "Chamomile and mint are classic favorites. Don’t be afraid to combine tea with honey for a double attack on that cough!"

    Make it fun ... break out the tea set, but pour the real thing to help curb the coughing. And read on for more natural "tea" alternatives.

  • Ginger

    4

    "Whether you give your kid ginger ale or make ginger tea, ginger can work as an expectorant and break up the mucus in your child's throat to help clear out that cough," says Dr. Wilkinson. "To make the tea, pour boiling water over a couple tablespoons of chopped ginger into a mug." 

  • Thyme

    5

    "Oregano and thyme can have similar effects (in terms of breaking up mucus), so go with what sounds most appealing," says Dr. Wilkinson. The herb's little leaves can help stifle a cough. 

    You can make thyme tea by steeping 2 teaspoons of crushed thyme leaves in a cup of boiling water for 10 minutes, then strain. Adding honey and lemon will make it more kid-friendly ... and adds extra soothing power as well. 

  • Lemons

    6

    A surprising number of kids are not turned off by the thought of sucking on a lemon. If your child likes lemons, you're ahead of the game! Lemon juice helps break up mucus that could be causing the cough and soothe an irritated throat. "Squeezing a lemon into water or infusing it into honey is a better choice," says Meagan Visser, RN, Herbalist and Owner of Growing Up Herbal. "Sucking on a raw lemon can be hard on kids' teeth."

  • Licorice Root

    7

    Dr. Wilkinson also recommends licorice tea. All right ... it's not the sweet candy licorice flavor kids will be excited about. We're talking licorice root, the real, natural-tasting stuff (you can find it in health food stores and some grocery stores). If you have a child who likes licorice -- there are definitely some who do! -- it's worth a try.

  • Saline

    8

    According to a study in JAMA Otolaryngology, nasal saline improves cold symptoms -- including cough, nasal congestion, and sore throat -- and helps prevent your child from getting back-to-back colds. It's not the easiest thing to squirt saline up a kid's nose, but the battle is so worth it in this case.

  • Honey

    9

    While all of the aforementioned natural remedies can help quiet a cough, the clear winner is honey. "[Honey is] the best natural cough medicine," says Dr. Wilkinson. Honey tastes delicious and does wonders for a cough. Studies show that honey lessens cough symptoms and improves sleep quality in sick kids.

    Dr. Wilkinson recommends the following doses: Kids 1 to 5 years old: 1/2 teaspoon. Kids 6 to 11 years old: 1 teaspoon. Kids 12 years old and up: 2 teaspoons. Take as needed. Do not give honey to a child who is under the age of 1.

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