When the parent of a toddler hears the cough of his child in the middle of the night, it can be a cause for great concern. However, parents have learned how to ease the cough and comfort their child without the use of cough medicine.
Warnings About Cough Medicine for Toddlers
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has issued warnings to parents to never give children under the age of 2 cough medicine (unless directed to do so by their doctor). The American Academy of Pediatrics supports this and echoes the warning.
Cough Medicine Use in Children
The use of cough medicines have not been proven to be effective in children under the age of 6 and their effectiveness is under review by the FDA. The medicines may prolong a child's illness instead of helping. There is also a greater risk for life threatening side effects than there is with older patients if dosing instructions are not followed carefully.
A toddler with a cough can benefit from a few simple comforting measures to ease a cough. A cool-mist humidifier in a child's room at night can help, as can raising the head of a child's bed. Placing a few towels under a crib mattress to slightly elevate the head or giving an older toddler an extra pillow to raise your child's head may help with a cough.
Steam can also be of help with a cough. Run hot water in your shower and close the door. Bring your toddler into the bathroom and allow him to breathe in the steam. Cold air can also help. Open a window or go for a walk and let your child breathe in the cold air. Children older than 1 year of age can be given honey to ease the cough. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 1/2 tsp. for ages 2 to 5. Children under age 1 should not be given honey due to the risk of botulism.
Many parents have found that taking simple comforting measures has worked for them and eased their child's cough. However, it is always important to discuss with your pediatrician what her recommendations may be.