Coughing, usually accompanied by cold, is common in children. But as a parent, you feel helpless every time your kid coughs. The nights are sleepless for both the child and you. A persistent cough indicates the presence of an irritant in the throat. More often than not, cough associated with common colds can be controlled with natural remedies.
MomJunction has compiled a list of common home remedies for cough in kids. To identify the ideal remedy, you need to determine the types of a cough troubling your child.
Types of Cough
A cough is the body’s way of removing the excess mucus that may be blocking the breathing passages. A child may cough because of an irritant in the throat, an infection, common cold, allergies or asthma among other health conditions. The type of a cough your child has is determined by what causes it.
Dry cough: A dry cough typically occurs because of the common cold or flu. It can also occur due to lower respiratory tract infections like bronchitis, asthma or allergies caused by irritants such as cigarette smoke.
Whooping cough: Whooping cough is also known as pertussis and is similar to a dry cough caused due to common colds. However, the cough may last long after the flu is gone and can get worse after a while. It usually ends in fits of coughing, forcing the child (or adult) to breathe forcefully, resulting in a “whooping” sound.
Wet cough: This is the result of excess mucus or fluids blocking the breathing passages in the body. A wet cough usually helps in removing the excess fluid from the lungs.
Barky or croup cough: Croup is a viral infection that blocks the upper respiratory track and results in a distinctive ‘barking’ cough, one that sounds like a seal barking.
Wheezing cough: When your child has a wheezing cough, he or she may make a high-pitched whistling sound when breathing. This type of a cough occurs when the airways are clogged and narrow.
[ Read: Bacterial Infections In Children ]
31 Home Remedies for Cough in Children
A cough in kids can often be treated, or at least controlled, with natural remedies that you can prepare at home. Here is a list of such home remedies you can try to alleviate the discomfort your child is put through due to coughing.
A massage always makes him feel better. It stimulates the body to heal all by itself. There is a tuina massage for cough you can always use to treat, whether your child has a dry, wet, hacking or a barking cough.
- Massage your child with warm mustard oil and garlic.
- Make sure you heat both the oil and garlic together to make it effective.
- Also, massage your baby’s palm and feet for a comfortable sleep.
2. Lots of rest
The body heals faster when it is at rest. If your child has a persistent cough, get him to stay home and rest for the day. The stress of school work, traveling to school and any allergens outside can aggravate a cough. Also, as a cough spreads germs around, keep him at home to avoid the spread of infection to other kids.
- You can engage your child in quiet activities like coloring or drawing, or let him play his favorite video game
- You could read a book or do puzzles together.
- A nap is also a great idea if your kid is up to it.
If your child has a wet cough, combined with blocked nose and breathing passages, steam inhalation can be an option. Warm air from the steam helps loosen the mucus in the air passages and rid it from the body.
- Heat water to a boil, in a bowl. You could also fill the tub with hot water.
- Add a few drops of eucalyptus oil in the water and let your child inhale the steam through the nose. In case you are using boiling water in a bowl, keep your child a little away from it.
- You can also run the hot water in the shower and leave it for a couple of minutes with the door closed. This will fill the room with steam, which will provide relief from cold.
- Always be around when the child is inhaling the steam. Any negligence on the part of the child might lead to burns.
Dry and less humid conditions can leave the mucus in the throat and passageways dry. This causes irritation, leading to a dry cough. Using a humidifier may not treat a cough, but it can alleviate it a little. In fact, it is an effective way to keep away your child’s cough at night time.
- A cool-mist humidifier will keep your child’s airways moist and clear.
- Open the windows in the morning to let out the humidity to prevent the growth of mold in the room.
Saline is always good to soothe the pain.
- Adding a teaspoon of salt in warm water can provide relief from a sore and scratchy throat.
- Gargling thrice a day can provide relief from a cough as well.
6. Plenty of liquids to stay hydrated
Getting enough fluids into the body will ensure that the toxins are flushed out quickly.
- Give your little one enough warm water to drink and keep him hydrated always.
- Also, drinking water helps in thinning the mucus and makes it easier for it to get out of the body.
Removal of mucus from the body reduces a wet cough.
7. Suction bulb
Excessive mucus can lead to blockages of the airways, especially the nose. Mucus in the nasal region can trigger a wet cough.
- Take a suction bulb and squeeze it. Hold it like that and put the opening inside one of the nostrils of the kid, and gently release it.
- This should clear away the mucus blocking the nose and also pull out what’s clogging the airways.
8. Saline drops/warm saline water
Warm saline drops or saline water made at home is an effective remedy to ease a dry cough in children. Salt water has been an old cure to ease a sore throat and relieve nasal congestion.
- Add half teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water.
- Put two drops of the warm saline water in the nostrils of the child. Ask him to blow immediately to remove mucus quickly.
- Your child can also gargle warm salt water to ease the irritation of the throat.
- Another way to ease nasal congestion is to rinse the nostrils using saline water. This method is suitable for older kids and adults. Tilt the child’s head to a side and use a Neti pot to pour warm saline water in one nostril and let it come out from another. Make sure that the kid breathes with his mouth during this process.
- You can also use saline drops or saline nasal spray. It has exact amount of saline required for cleaning the nose.
9. Vapor rub
Vapor rub balms contain herbal oils and fragrances that can ease the congestion in the airways of the kid. Here is how you can use it to alleviate wheezing cough and wet cough.
- Take a little vapor rub and massage your child’s chest with it. Spread the balm over the upper respiratory region that is clogged with mucus.
- You can also apply the vapor rub on the back, neck, and the nose.
- Do not put the balm inside the nostril and around the eyes.
The child may have a slight, negligible burning sensation sometimes, but he will eventually feel better.
[ Read: Benefits Of Vicks VapoRub For Kids ]
10. Suck on popsicle
A scratchy throat can often lead to a dry cough. To relieve your children from the discomfort get them (four years or above) to suck on a sugar-free candy, popsicle or crushed ice. This will provide relief to his irritated throat and prevent a cough.
11. Head in upright position
Breathing can be difficult when the child has a cold and cough. The position of the head when coughing can influence the secretion or mucus-clearing from the body (1). Ideally, children who have coughing fits should keep the head in an upright position when they sleep, to limit the movement of the mucus towards the throat.
This will prevent accumulation of mucus in the throat and prevent coughing. Prop up the pillows or add a pillow or two under the head so that the head is in a higher position than the rest of the body. This will help in preventing coughing fits at night.
12. Nose blowing
A wet cough is often the result of mucus accumulation in the throat. If not cleared, mucus in the nostrils can move from the nose to the throat when the child breathes forcefully, resulting in throat irritation, and therefore coughing.
To prevent that, help your child blow his or her nose from time to time. If the kid is very young, teach him to blow the nose by “smelling backward”, but forcefully.
13. Stay clean
Germs spread easily through coughing. Help your kid stay clean to prevent the spreading of the germs to other kids in the family.
- Keep the kid’s surroundings clean.
- Change bed clothes every day.
- Encourage them to wash hands before touching anything after they cough.
- Teach them to cover their mouth when they cough or sneeze, and wash their hands immediately or use a sanitizer.
Honey is considered the best home remedy for children’s cough. It contains anti-microbial agents, which help the body to fight cold. The sweet taste of honey also helps in producing saliva. The excess amount of saliva helps in thinning the mucus.
It is one of the most effective natural ways to get comfort from a cough. Do not give honey to your baby who is less than one year of age.
- Mix one tablespoon of honey in warm water.
- Squeeze fresh lemon juice in it.
- Let your child sip this.
Lemon has therapeutic properties and helps improve the body’s immune system to fight sickness and free radicals in the body.
- A dash of lemon juice with honey (mentioned above) makes an excellent cough syrup.
- You can also have the child suck on a slice of lemon if he likes the taste.
Ginger has antiviral properties that make it an excellent remedy for fighting cough brought on by common colds. Ginger has a strong taste, which is why you may have to mix it with honey before you give it to your child.
- Mix one-fourth teaspoon of grated or crushed ginger with one-fourth teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
- Add a tablespoon each of honey and apple cider vinegar to this.
- Mix it with two tablespoons of water to make syrup.
- Give two tablespoons of it to relieve a cough.
17. Chicken soup
A bowl of chicken soup can do the magic if you do not want to rely on medicine. Researchers have found that chicken soup contains anti-inflammatory property. This soothes cold symptoms by relieving congestion, cough, and a sore throat.
18. Milk and turmeric
Turmeric and milk provide instant relief to a dry throat, aching throat and runny nose. It is also one of the best natural remedies for whooping cough in children.
- Add turmeric powder to a glass of warm milk.
- Give it to your little one every night before going to sleep.
- Turmeric has an antiseptic property which helps in treating viral infection.
[ Read: Benefits Of Milk For Kids ]
19. Cough drops
Cough drops are good for tickling dry, scratchy cough. It brings temporary relief. Children below three years of age should not be given cough drops.
20. Warm liquids or soups
Warm liquids help loosen the mucus blocking the breathing passages in the body. So, in addition to steam, you can also give your child:
- Warm soups with greens
- Decaffeinated teas
- Warm water
[ Read: Delicious Soup Recipes For Kids ]
21. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has anti-bacterial properties and can kill pathogens in the body. This vinegar can kill germs that cause infection and sore throat. It is an effective natural remedy for a dry cough.
- One tablespoon of apple cider vinegar can be combined with one-fourth tablespoon each of crushed ginger and honey to treat a cough naturally.
- Another way to use this vinegar is to dab your child’s pillow case with it. This is an age-old folk recipe that enables your child to breathe in the scent of the vinegar, which can soothe the throat.
[ Read: Apple Cider Vinegar For Kids ]
22. Chest rub
Using a homemade chest rub instead of a medicated one can also be useful in fighting a cough. Here is how you can make one at home.
- Take two level tablespoons of beeswax in a boiler and mix it with half-a-cup of olive oil, coconut oil or almond oil.
- Let the beeswax melt and add four to five drops each of eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, rosemary oil and clove or cinnamon oil to this and stir.
- Once the oils and the wax are mixed properly, take the mix off heat and let it cool.
- Pour into a container and store it in a cool place.
- Apply this rub over your child’s throat, chest and back to provide relief from a cough.
23. Herbal cough medicine
A cough can almost always be treated with homemade remedies. Here are a few ways to make effective herbal cough medicines for children. This is ideal only for children aged four and above.
Chamomile and marshmallow syrup
- Take half a quart of water in a vessel.
- Add a quarter cup each of marshmallow root, chamomile flowers and dried or freshly grated ginger.
- Then add one tablespoon of cinnamon. Boil the concoction until the liquid becomes half the original portion.
- Strain the remaining liquid and simmer it until it further reduces to one cup of syrup.
- Add two cups of honey and two tablespoons of vegetable glycerin.
- Put it in a container and store it in the refrigerator. Do not store it for more than two months.
- One teaspoon of this syrup twice a day can provide relief from a cough.
[ Read: Chamomile Tea Safe For Kids ]
Fenugreek and lemon syrup
- Soak a teaspoon of fenugreek leaves and one spoon of thyme leaves in one and a half cups of water. Add one tablespoon of feverfew and half a lemon (unseeded) and leave it for half an hour.
- Strain the liquid and simmer the resultant liquid until it reduces to one cup.
- Add two cups honey and two tablespoons of vegetable glycerin to the concoction.
- Cool it down and store in a jar, in a cool, dry place. You can also refrigerate it to use it for a month or so.
- Give your child one teaspoon of this syrup for a cough.
Horehound leaves and honey syrup
White horehound or Marrubium vulgare leaves have expectorant properties that can fight a cough.
- Add a pinch of dried horehound leaves to a pint of boiling water.
- Let the leaves steep in the water for ten minutes.
- Strain the liquid and add honey twice as much as the liquid to complete the syrup.
- Store it in a container and refrigerate it.
- You can use it for at least two months.
24. Decaffeinated herbal tea
Kids can also be given herb teas for a cough. You can make these teas at home or buy them. To ensure that these teas are decaffeinated, it is best to make them at home. Here is how.
- Make herb tea mix with one tablespoon of horehound leaves, thyme, and mullein. To make the tea, boil one or two teaspoons of the tea leaves in one cup of water. Make sure that they boil enough to bring out the aroma of the ingredients out. Give half a cup of this tea thrice a day to ease a cough.
- Another effective herb tea you can have is the lemon balm tea, which is easy to make. Take one teaspoon of lemon balm leaves and boil them in a cup of water. Boil for at least eight to ten minutes for best results. Give your kid half a cup of this tea twice a day.
- Licorice root is known for its properties to ease a sore throat and cough. Add half a teaspoon of licorice root to boiling water and leave it for ten minutes. Strain the liquid and give it to your kid.
- Hyssop has expectorant properties. Put two teaspoons of hyssop leaves in a cup of boiling water and leave it for around ten minutes. Strain, cool and give it to your child, to ease congestion in the upper respiratory region.
25. Herbal decoction
A strong herbal decoction, given in small doses, can do wonders. Here is how you can prepare it.
- Combine one spoon of cumin seeds (Cuminum cyminum seeds), sweet flag or calamus (Ccorus calamus roots), and cilantro (Coriandrum sativum leaves) to make the tea mix.
- To prepare the decoction, add one-fourth of the herbal leaves mix to one cup of boiling water.
- Simmer the liquid for around 20 minutes and remove from heat.
- Strain it. Let it become warm or cold before giving it to the kid.
- Give one teaspoon of this decoction after the meal to ease a cough.
You can also make larger quantities of the decoction by varying the quantities of the ingredients.
26. Herbal powder
Make an herbal powder with:
- Java grass (Cyperus rotundus roots)
- Chinese pistache leaves (Pistacia chinensis leaves)
- Long pepper fruit (Piper longum fruit)
- Indian aconite bud (Aconitum ferox bud)
- Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum root)
Take equal quantities of these ingredients and churn them into a powder. Give one teaspoon of this powder, mixed with honey, to ease a cough.
Aniseed is a great herb that can help in clearing the mucus in the respiratory regions. The herb loosens the phlegm and makes it easier for your kid to cough it out. The sooner the phlegm is out, the quicker can he get relief from a cough.
- Add one tablespoon of crushed anise seed to half-a-cup of boiling water and let it steep for half an hour.
- Strain the liquid and simmer it for 15 minutes or until it reduces to one cup.
- Add two cups of honey and let it cool.
- Store it in a jar and refrigerate it.
- Half a teaspoon of this mix can help ease a cough in children.
28. Aloe barbadensis
Aloe vera or (Aloe barbadensis) leaves can help ease a cough.
- Roast leaves of aloe vera and take the juice out of them.
- Add honey and clove powder to it.
- Give a teaspoon of this, twice a day, to the kid.
29. Allium cepa
Allium cepa is good for treating sinuses, colds and allergies that can result in coughing fits. It is widely used in preparing homeopathic medicines.
- Mix one teaspoon of the allium cepa juice with one and a half teaspoon of honey and leave it for two to three hours.
- Give this mix twice a day for cold and cough.
30. Abrus precatorius
The root of abrus precatorius or crab’s eye, as it is commonly known, can help fight a cough and cold.
- Scrub 10 grams of the crab’s eye root in 10ml of water.
- Give this to your child at least three times a day.
31. Carom seeds
Carom seeds (ajowan caraway) or bishop’s seeds are popularly used in India to fight indigestion and cold and cough in kids. The seeds have anti-microbial properties that can help in relieving congestion. Here is how you can make a decoction of the seeds to fight a cough.
- Boil one teaspoon of carom seeds, eight to ten holy basil leaves, half a teaspoon dry ginger powder, one clove, a pinch of ground pepper powder, half teaspoon of turmeric powder, and one-third cup jaggery in half a cup of water.
- Boil for ten minutes and strain the liquid.
- Give a teaspoon of it to your child to provide relief from a cough.
Other Natural Ways To Cure Cough In Children:
Want to know how to cure cough in your child? Here are a few other ways you can try after speaking with your doctor:
- To stop cough, cut lemon in quarter, add sprinkle of salt and ground pepper and let your young boy suck it. The tangy taste of lemon helps in toning down the cough.
- Mix 2 tsp of honey with a pinch of white pepper and let your child take it three times a day.
- White pepper and honey mixed together can also be used to help with your kid’s cough. Just add a small pinch of the fine white pepper powder to a teaspoon of honey and give this remedy three times a day
- Onion too provides wonders to cough. Onion puree mixed with honey helps ease cough. This mixture needs to be taken three times a day.
The above natural remedies are effective for both kids and adults. Before you give any of these to your children make sure that they are not allergic to any of the ingredient.
When to seek medical care?
See a doctor when:
- A cough persists longer than 10 days
- The child has any signs of distress with breathing or has chest pain
- They have rapid breathing, known as chest retractions
- When the muscles sink between the ribs
- Stridor, a whistling sound when breathing in
Diet For Younger And Older Kids:
Including the following food items in your child’s diet can also prove beneficial to treat cough:
- Food rich in vitamin A and Vitamin B is beneficial to eliminate cough.
- Healthy immune is important to eliminate cough and therefore green leafy vegetables is a must.
- Hot milk and honey can act as a defense mechanism against virus and bacteria.
- Avoid giving spicy and oily food to your kid.
- Avoid food like milk, banana, salted food and sugar items. It increases mucous formation.
- Warm pineapple juice with 2 table spoon of honey makes a natural cough syrup
- Garlic, ginger, oregano keeps the body and immune strong.
One of the safest ways to treat a cough in children is home remedies. However, it is important that you vet the ingredients thoroughly to make sure that the remedies are safe for your kid. In any case, it is imperative that you talk to a doctor in case your child has chronic cough.
Most importantly, know when you should take your child to a doctor and when you can handle a cough with home remedies.
Have ideas for treating kids’ cough at home? Tell us about them here.
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