There are lots of ways to try and help your kiddo when they have an awful cough
There are lots of ways to try and help your kiddo when they have an awful cough, but you should know that coughing is actually a good thing. Coughing is a reflex that helps clear the airways in the lungs. Sometimes it’s a sign of illness, but other times it’s just the body doing some housekeeping after getting exposed to something new. As the American Academy of Pediatrics notes, “coughing is an important mechanism for removing secretions and foreign material from the respiratory tract.”
And even if your child does have a cold or other mild illness that makes them cough more than usual, there still may be nothing to worry about: “[Coughing] can become quite annoying,” said Dr. Robert Blocker, “but only rarely signals danger during childhood.” And while it might be tempting to try and suppress your child’s cough with medicine, again—the AAP advises against this. (Some medications can even cause coughing as a side effect.) In general, there are few effective remedies for common colds (which typically cause coughing), and there are risks involved with many over-the-counter drugs; plus, if your child does need treatment for their cough or another symptom of their illness—you’ll want all that information on hand before you call the doctor or head to urgent care.
Suction and saline are so important.
When your two-year-old is congested, you’re probably going to want to do everything in your power to help them feel comfortable. After all, who can function with a stuffy nose? The most effective way to help clear your little one’s airways is by using an inexpensive saline solution. Saline works by loosening the mucus and helps eliminate the bacteria and viruses that cause common colds or allergies. You can purchase nasal saline spray in grocery stores or pharmacies and use it whenever your child is feeling stuffed up. Use suctioning devices like a NoseFrida in conjunction with saline solutions for best results. Aim for using the aspirator before all meals and at bedtime.
Use a cool-air humidifier.
A cool-mist humidifier is also helpful, as it helps add moisture to the air, which may soothe your little one’s cough.
Be sure to follow the instructions that come with your humidifier and clean it regularly. It’s also a good idea to place the humidifier in an area where it can be monitored safely.
Most humidifiers designed for infants are small enough to fit on a tabletop or nightstand, but if you’re using an open-air fan or a heating unit as a makeshift humidifier, keep it far away from your child’s crib and make sure its placement will not prevent any heat vents from working properly.
Let her suck on an age-appropriate cough drop.
You’re in luck: you can bring some quick relief to a two-year-old with a safe, easy remedy—and maybe even save yourself an unpleasant night of hacking. There are cough drops suckers that are perfectly safe for toddlers over the age of two, but make sure to check the label and choose one with the appropriate dosage. In addition, if your toddler has food allergies or sensitivities, double check that the ingredients in any cough drop you give them will not pose a problem for them.
Try all-natural cough syrups.
It is best to avoid commercial cough syrups that contain chemical ingredients that may not be suitable for your little one. However, you can try natural cough syrups made from herbs that have been used for centuries as a remedy. These are usually made by combining honey, glycerin and herbs. The bee product possesses antibacterial properties and is great for soothing sore throats, while the sweetener acts as a humectant to attract moisture and reduce coughs. Various herbs such as thyme, elderberry flowers, marshmallow root, licorice root, wild cherry bark and mullein are commonly used in the syrups because they help soothe the throat, reduce inflammation and fight infection. Some parents also use aniseed or fennel seeds to suppress coughing in toddlers.
Mix up some “tea.”
Mix up some “tea” with water, lemon, and honey. Honey is a natural cough suppressant, and warm liquid helps to soothe sore throats and break up mucus. (Avoid using honey for babies under the age of one due to the risk of botulism.) Lemon adds vitamin C, an essential nutrient that supports the immune system.
- Pro tip: if your child won’t drink it on its own, try stirring in a bit of maple syrup or brown sugar for sweetness as needed.
Do some steam therapy.
- Close the bathroom door and turn on the shower as hot as it goes.
- Close all other windows and doors in the apartment if possible, but don’t worry about this if it makes you feel like a crazy person.
- Let your kid play in there while you let it steam up.
This method is great because no one has to wait around for a bowl of water to boil or use a funny contraption made of plastic tubing, though you certainly can try that too if you’re feeling ambitious. Long-term, this method of steam therapy can help break up congestion and help kids more quickly recover from colds, just like an adult would find relief from taking a nice steamy shower when they’re sick.
Try the Vicks trick.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with new methods, like the Vicks trick. It’s not a cure-all, but it can give relief from coughing fits at night. Simply put a thin layer of children’s Vicks on your child’s feet and cover them with cotton socks before bed. They may kick their socks off in the middle of the night, so make sure to check in on them periodically. A few warnings: this method is only appropriate for children over two years old; do not try this method on infants or younger children. Also, you may use Vicks on your child’s chest as well but they will likely rub it off while they sleep, making it less effective than when applied directly to their feet. When used properly, it just might be the little miracle that helps your child sleep without coughing through the night!
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