While a cough is part of the body's natural defense system, it can be irritating and painful for your young child, and just as torturous for a parent to watch. The good news is a cough is usually not reason for serious concern -- a cough is a common symptom of illness during childhood -- and you have a variety of ways to help ease your child's cough, relieve pain and allow her body to recover.
Turn on a hot shower and let it run for pproximately 20 minutes while you and your youngster hang out in the bathroom. Repeat as often as necessary. Steam is particularly helpful when your child has a croup-like cough. It will help to soothe the inflammation that is contributing to the cough. Let the tub fill and add a few drops of eucalyptus or menthol oil to help ease congestion.
Place a well-cleaned humidifier or cool-mist vaporizer in your child's room during the night to help ease airway irritation. You can keep the unit in the main area of the home during the day if the house is dry and then transfer it to your child's bedroom about 30 minutes before it's time for bed. You can also add the eucalyptus or menthol oil to a vaporizer to help ease congestion further.
Give your child a teaspoon of honey every few hours to help coat an irritated throat. It makes coughing less painful.
Keep your child well-hydrated with plenty of water and diluted natural fruit juices. Warm chamomile tea can help thin mucus that might be contributing to the cough. You can also offer warm tea with a spoonful of honey to help coat your child's throat if it is sore from coughing.
Consult your health-care practitioner before administering any medications. Over-the-counter cough remedies are not recommended for young children. You can discuss the usefulness of non-medicinal cough lozenges with your health-care practitioner. However, these can pose a choking hazard for young children so do not use them until you first talk to your health-care provider.
Apply a mentholated rub to your child's chest and neck before bedtime. Don't apply it directly under her nose. Mentholated rub is used to help ease symptoms of the common cold and can help ease chest congestion, reducing the cough and allowing your child to get a better night's sleep.
Consult your health-care practitioner if the cough worsens, or your child is wheezing, has severe coughing attacks, must work hard to breathe or the cough persists for more than three weeks.