How to Ease a Nighttime Cough in Children

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You try to keep your kids healthy, but they always manage to get sick. With all the viruses and bacterial infections that cause coughing as a symptom, you’re bound to hear a cough coming from your child’s room at least once during the year. Coughing is the most common symptom of childhood illnesses and coughs are usually worse at night, according to There are several things you can do to relieve your child’s cough at night.

Children's Nighttime Cough Relief

Turn your shower on to the hottest setting and close the bathroom door. Sit with your child in the steamy bathroom for 20 minutes before your child goes to bed. The steam helps loosen the cough and soothes the airways.

Place a humidifier in your child’s room. Dry air makes coughs worse and the humidifier will help relieve inflammation of the airways.

Give honey to children over 2-years-old. Give a 1/2 tsp. for children 2 to 5, 1 tsp. for children 6 to 11 and 2 tsp. for children ages 12 to 18. If your child is under 2-years-old, but is older than four months, give him a teaspoon of warm apple juice before bed to relieve the nocturnal cough.

Give cough drops or hard candy to children over 6-years-old before bed, but be sure your child does not go to bed with the drops in his mouth.

Administer an over-the-counter cough medicine that contains dextromethorphan for severe coughs that keep your child awake. Do not give cough medicines to children under 4-years-old and only give cough medicine to children between the ages of 4 and 6-years-old if it’s recommended by your doctor.


Keep your house free of cigarette, cooking and fireplace smoke. Smoke is an irritant and will worsen your child’s cough. If the cough is caused by croup, opening the freezer and allowing your child to inhale the cold air can help relieve the cough. Lift the head of your child’s bed a few inches off the ground if he has a cold to minimize post-nasal drip into the back of the throat. Post-nasal drip triggers the cough reflex.


Seek emergency medical assistance if your child’s coughing is making breathing difficult or your child’s lips, face or tongue are turning a bluish color. Most coughs do not require antibiotics, but always consult with your child’s pediatrician since bacterial conditions like whooping cough are potentially fatal for young infants and high-risk children. Do not give children multi-symptom cold medications since they have an increased risk of overdose and negative side effects. Suppressing a cough with cough medicine allows mucus to settle in your lungs, which increases your child’s risk of pneumonia.