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What Can Be Done for a Toddler's Cough?

By Hillary Marshall ; Updated September 26, 2017
It can be frustrating when your little one is sick.

Coughing can be disruptive to a toddler’s normal behavior, making him uncomfortable and grumpy. There are a number of medications, home remedies and physical treatments you can use to treat your toddler’s cough. Choosing the right treatments can help her function during the day and sleep better at night. If your child develops a high fever, is weak, wheezing, complains of a tight chest, has bloody mucus or saliva, appears dehydrated, tugs her ears, can’t talk without coughing, or shows any other signs of serious illness, consult your pediatrician immediately.

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Giving a toddler fluids when he is sick is essential. The better hydrated your little one is, the more productive his cough will be, because the fluids thin mucus. If your child is still breastfeeding or drinking formula, continue to offer it. Diluted juice, milk and water are ideal for keeping children over the age of 12 months hydrated. If your toddler is not drinking enough, try giving him a children's oral electrolyte solution. According to WhatToExpect.com, warm tea or a Popsicle can help soothe a tickle in the throat.


If your child is over the age of 2, you can try honey for her cough. Honey coats the throat and helps ease soreness. Honey should not be given to children under the age of 1 because it puts them at risk for developing botulism. WebMD.com recommends giving children between the ages of 2 and 5 a half-teaspoon of honey for a cough.

Thin Nasal Congestion

Nasal congestion can cause a cough because it leads to postnasal drip. You can use a bulb syringe to suction excess congestion from your toddler’s nose. WebMD.com suggests using saline spray in the nose to loosen the mucus. After spraying each nostril with saline, wait 60 seconds and either suction it with a bulb syringe or have your child blow her nose. You can also use a few drops of salt water in each nostril to thin secretions.

Moist Air

Another all-natural option is to take your child into the bathroom when the shower is running. The heat from the hot water steams up the bathroom if you keep the door closed. Have your child stay in the steamy bathroom (supervised) for 15 to 20 minutes. The warm, moist air helps open her airways. In addition, you can use a cool-mist humidifier or vaporizer in your child's bedroom.

Change Sleeping Position

Position your child so he is sleeping or resting with his head elevated. Sleeping with the head elevated helps promote drainage so that congestion doesn't build up during sleep. WebMD.com suggests placing a rolled-up towel beneath the head of your child’s mattress. If your child is still in a crib, move the head of the mattress up one notch, leaving the foot in a lower position. Only a slight angle is needed for this method to be effective.

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About the Author

Hillary Marshall has been writing professionally since 2006. Before writing instructional articles online, she worked as a copywriter and has been published in "Ideal Living" "Sass" "Science Edge" and "Shopping Cents" magazines along with countless websites including Gadling a blog by the Huffington post. Marshall studied early childhood education at the Stratford Career Institute.

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