What to do when your baby or toddler has a cough
By Sara Keli
A cough is one of those symptoms of a cold that tends to linger after the cold itself has disappeared. They can be very frustrating for the whole family, interrupting sleep and causing other disruptions.
While you can’t “cure” a cough, there are things you can do to help you ride out the cough and make life a bit more bearable for both you and your child.
Try a saline nasal spray
While it may seem odd to use a nasal spray to treat a cough, saline nasal sprays loosen the mucus in the nose and help relieve congestion. It is this mucus from a baby’s runny nose that can often be the cause of a cough, so by treating the cause you can help relieve the cough.
Saline nasal sprays can be very effective – if your child is congested, it can be easy as giving one to two sprays in each nostril (make sure to read the directions).
Likewise, if they are coughing a lot, try the spray and see if it helps over time.
Keep up the fluids
No matter what illness your child has, it’s generally good advice to keep up their fluids – particularly with a cough or respiratory illness where they can dehydrate quite quickly. Offer a variety of fluids – extra breastfeeds for babies, and plenty of water or rehydration drinks like Hydralyte for older babies and toddlers.
When your child has a cough, depending on how severe it is, it can cause a sore throat, so sometimes they might avoid drinking. If this is the case, try something like Hydralyte ice blocks as these can be an easier sell to a sick child!
Give them honey
Honey is very soothing on the throat and can help to relieve the pain associated with a cough.
Please note that if your child is under 12 months old they should not be given any honey as it can contain a bacterium that causes botulism. The younger immune system is more susceptible to the dangers of the bacteria.
But for children older than 12 months old, a small spoonful of honey can soothe the throat.
Keep in mind that honey does contain natural sugars so you probably don’t want to give them too much! If you are struggling with your child’s fluid intake, add a little honey to a cup of warm water and they might be more willing to drink up the sweeter flavour.
Consider baby cold medicine
While cough medicine isn’t recommended for children younger than six years old, there may be other baby cold medicine you can give your child to help treat the other symptoms or causes of the cough. The best source of advice on what infant cold medicine is suitable for your child is your doctor or pharmacist.
There may also be baby medicine and vitamins that are worth speaking to your doctor or pharmacist about that can help boost your child’s immunity.
Check it isn’t something more serious
As with any illness that your child is suffering from, if at any point you are concerned, you should always seek medical advice. If a cough is lingering for longer than you think it should or it is causing major discomfort or disruption to your child, book an appointment with your GP so they can examine your child.
If you have a very young baby with a cough or newborn cold, it’s always advisable to see a doctor.
Most of all, whenever your child is sick, you need a bit more patience. Succumb to the lack of sleep and the child that just needs to lie on your lap all day … one more day of dry shampoo won’t hurt!