How to Soothe a Toddler's Cough Without Medicine

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Soothing a toddler's cough without medication can actually be safer because there is less risk for side effects. Find out what you can use to soothe your toddler's cough with tips from a doctor in this free video on coughing treatments.

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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Dr. David Hill and today we're going to be talking about how to soothe a toddler's cough without medicine. This is a really important topic because many of the medicines that we used to recommend for toddlers with cough or cold symptoms, we no longer recommend. Now why is that? Well, we've come to realize those medicines have never really been shown to do what they're suppose to do. The cough and cold medicines that we use to give never really were proven to stop cough or stop a runny nose or decrease congestion. They have been shown to cause potential serious side effects especially in babies, toddlers and younger children under the age of six. So, most doctors will no longer recommend a cough or cold medicine here for toddler. What are you going to do the because you're still up all night with a toddler whose coughing? I think one thing to understand is what an important protective reflects the cough is. Why is it so hard to suppress the cough? Because a cough is a really important way that the body cleanse bad things out of the lungs; things like viruses and bacteria and all the mucus and foreign bodies that may lead a child to become sicker. One question with a toddler's cough, before we talk about soothing it is, "Is it normal if the child's having any shortness of breath, chest pain or wheezing?" If you see the child working too hard to breathe; the skin is pulling between the ribs or over here or the child is using his or her abdominal muscles to breathe, that is not normal. That is a baby who needs to be seen by a doctor. He or she may have asthma, pneumonia or other serious lung disease. Likewise, a child who has a whooping cough especially if he or she is not been vaccinated in a timely fashion; you hear sort of a, "Heeh", whoop on breathing in; that could be potentially problematic. Also, that could be croup, a sound called strider; that the child makes on breathing in. Again it's that, "Eeeh", kind of sound; that child probably needs to be evaluated emergently to make sure that he or she isn't at risk of losing his or her airway completely. For the normal pesky cough, one that hasn't gone on within three weeks; one that is coming with cold symptoms such as a runny nose or stuffy nose; the best thing that we have honestly, is honey. Now, if your baby is under one year of age, you should not use honey as a cough suppressant. Why? Botulism. Botulinum toxin is something that older children can process and deal with when they swallow the honey. The stomach acid will make it go away. But younger babies, it can kill. So for younger babies instead of honey, we recommend heavy corn syrup like Karo Brand Syrup or other off brand corn syrup. However, for children who are over age one, a teaspoon of honey has been proven being effective cough suppressant. A vaporizer or humidifier into the room may also be hopeful. Soothing sound, patting on the back, all of these things; plenty of fluids, warm fluids; all of your great grandmothers ideas except perhaps for alcohol are great ideas for your toddler or baby. Talking about what to do for a toddler's cough, I'm Dr. David Hill.


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