How to Soothe a Toddler's Cough Without Medicine

Coughing is a natural reflex of the body to dispel irritants or mucous from the air passages 1. Despite its usefulness, constant coughing irritates the throat and prevents restful sleep 1. When a toddler is coughing, parents are often reluctant to use cold medication or cough syrup 1. Fortunately, there are effective cold remedies that use only natural ingredients found in most kitchens 1.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

DIY Cough Remedy

Use honey to soothe coughs. Honey is an effective natural cough suppressant; however, do not give honey to children younger than 1 year of age. Mix 1 to 2 tsp. of honey into tea or into a glass of juice or warm water. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to boost the effectiveness. Add a dash of white pepper to the honey solution and the cough treatment will help clear mucous.

Stir ginger into hot tea and give it to your child two to three times a day. Ginger is an excellent natural cough remedy.

Warm milk and stir in a teaspoon of honey and a dash of turmeric for a comforting remedy that is sure to provide cough relief to your little one.

Turn on the hot water in the shower and sit in the steam with your toddler for 20 minutes. This is especially useful for dry, barking coughs.

Invest in a cool-mist humidifier to help your child sleep without coughing 1.

Prepare a solution of warm saltwater for a gargle. Your child can gargle as many times during the day as he is able; however, only use this method with older children. Be sure your child understands not to swallow the solution.


Cold beverages can soothe an irritated throat, but avoid carbonated sodas and orange juice, which can burn.


Take your child to the doctor for a chronic cough that lasts longer than 3 weeks, a cough accompanied by high fever (102 degrees F or higher) or vomiting, if your child coughs up blood or if the cough has a whooping or wheezing sound.

Seek immediate medical assistance if your child has trouble breathing or has a blue or dusky hue.

Never give honey to children younger than 1 year of age. Honey contains bacteria that produce botulism toxin, which can affect the baby’s nervous system and may lead to death. Cough drops or lozenges can cause choking hazards in children younger than 3 years old.