Toddler coughing in bed

As parents, we’ve all experienced the stress of trying to help our toddlers who are suffering from yet another seemingly endless cough.

But no more.

There is a solution for how to cure a toddler’s cough—in fact, there are a number of solutions you can try that we’ve detailed below.

But first, before you start trying out home remedies, it’s important that you identify the cause of your toddler’s cough in the first place.

How to identify the cause of your toddler’s cough

While no parent wants to deal with a sick toddler, it’s actually quite common. In fact, you should expect your toddler to have between 6-12 viral infections a year.

A typical toddler’s cough can last up to two weeks. As frustrating as it is, most coughs toddlers suffer from are a result of a common virus that has no cure.

However, it is worth noting that there are other causes for a toddler’s cough:

  • Bronchiolitis. This is a cough most commonly found in babies under a year old which is a result of a viral infection.
  • Asthma. A similar illness to bronchiolitis and is also triggered by a viral infection or allergies.
  • Croup: This cough sounds worse than it is. Usually it is found in children under five years of age, and is a result of a viral infection.
  • Whooping cough. This cough is due to a bacterial infection and will need antibiotics.
  • Pneumonia. This lung infection can be caused by both viral and bacterial infections.

When to seek professional help for a toddler’s cough

If your toddler has any of the above illnesses, it’s vital to seek professional help. But although it is indeed incredibly stressful to deal with a sick toddler—believe it or not—there is an upside.

Every bug that they have now will help their immune system grow and develop. That’s not the most comforting thought at 3am when you’re trying to sooth your toddler’s cough, but hopefully it will mean less disturbed nights in the future.

So the best thing you can do to cure your toddler’s cough, brought on by a cold, is to offer comfort, rest, and try a few home remedies.

If you’re wondering about using over the counter remedies, we generally recommend against using them to treat a toddler’s cough. The reason why is that cough mixtures and decongestants from the chemist have not been shown to have any significant effect on shortening the length of a toddler’s cough. Nor have they shown to reduce the symptoms of a cough. Plus, if the recommended dosages aren’t followed, they can cause more harm than good.

How to cure a toddler’s cough

Instead, you can try these home remedies to help cure your toddler’s cough:Remember: antibiotics aren’t required and won’t help. You can, however, offer toddler-friendly paracetamol or ibuprofen if needed.

  1. Keep your toddler hydrated with water and milk. Offer popsicles to increase fluid intake and sooth a sore throat.
  2. If your toddler is over one, offer a teaspoonful of honey to ease a sore throat. It has natural antibiotic properties, so will help to soothe your toddler. You can even add honey to warm milk to help with ingestion.
  3. Raise the head end of your toddler’s mattress by placing a rolled up towel under it. This will elevate your toddler’s head and help their breathing.
  4. Use saline drops as they help soften mucus.
  5. Install a cold air humidifier into your toddler’s bedroom. This will ensure the air stays moist and prevents your toddler’s airways from drying out.
  6. If you don’t have a humidifier, close the bathroom door and lay a towel against the bottom it. Run a hot shower and let the steam build up. Sit with your toddler in the bathroom and inhale the steamy air.
  7. Or, sit your toddler in a warm bath and give them time to inhale the steam. Doing so will help to soften any mucus.
  8. There’s a folk remedy that says cold air is good for clearing a toddler’s cough. So if your toddler is able to, bundle them up warmly and head outdoors for a bit of fresh air and exercise.
  9. If your toddler is not well enough to go outside, stand them in front of the open freezer door for a few minutes and breath in the ice cold air.
  10. Thickly apply vapor rub to the soles of your toddler’s feet and pop socks on over the top. Rumor has it your toddler’s cough will within minutes and they will experience relief for hours.

How to prevent your toddler from catching a cold

This might seem a bit like how to keep water in a sieve, but there are ways in which you can help prevent your toddler from getting a cough in the first place.

  • Make sure your toddler gets enough sleep. Sleep is the one stop shop miracle cure for nearly all ailments. Sleep is the time when our body gets to rest and focus on healing itself. So if your toddler looks a little run down, prescribe an early night and try and nip the cold in its bud.
  • Almost 80% of all infectious diseases are spread through contact. So make sure you have soap at all your sinks and if you’re out and about, carry alcohol hand gel to kill any bacteria that you might come into contact with.
  • Always wash your own hands before handling any food or drink for your toddler. If you are carrying a bug, chances are it will transfer over and they will ingest it.