How To Stop Coughing In Children, Especially At Night!

As parents, we often worry about our children. Our hearts are heavy when they are ill. It is hard for us to see them sick. Whether it’s a bloody nose or cold and cough. What’s more difficult is when this happens during their sleep, or attempts to sleep. Its actually torture to hear little children coughing. We’d like to do whatever we can to make them better.

How can you stop coughing in children, especially at night?

What is a Cough:

A cough is a common ailment which most people experience as a reaction to the entry of foreign particles in the respiratory system. There are different types of coughs depending on the factor causing them such as a hacking cough, cough with mucus or a dry cough. A cough is often a symptom of another health problem, usually a cold or similar illness; however, it can signal many other health problems including the potentially serious ones.

As a result, a remedy that offers relief from a cold-related cough will not help if kids coughing at night are due to an allergy or asthma for instance. To be able to determine the underlying cause of a particular cough and choose the right remedy, you are therefore recommended to pay attention to other symptoms that accompany a cough.


Cough symptoms can often mimic (or even begin) as a cold with low-grade fever, a runny nose, and a slight cough, and then it seems as if, sometimes, overnight, the coughing gets worse-louder, harsher, and more difficult for the child to control or stop. Infections of the upper respiratory region such as common cold are the most common reason behind a toddler coughing at night. Other possible cold symptoms include a slightly elevated body temperature, runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, irritability, and reduced appetite.

child can't stop coughing.

What can you do to help alleviate coughing:

Not getting the necessary sleep for both mom and baby prompts parents or caregivers to look for nighttime cough remedies. Before you try a suggested remedy, you need to know what you are dealing with. Common cold in babies is usually not severe and can go away without administering medications. But if your child is below three months, you are advised to call your pediatrician as soon as you can, because newborns stand more significant risks of complications from life-threatening ailments such as pneumonia. Whatever your child’s age may be, call your provider immediately if:

  • you notice persistent coughing
  • you do not know what is causing the night coughs
  • your baby has breathing difficulties
  • may have swallowed a small object
  • has high body temperature or/and any other worrisome symptoms
  • has blue colored lips
  • your child becomes unconscious

However, if your baby is older than 3 months and does not have any other troubling signs, the following are suggestions from the American Academy of Pediatrics on how to stop coughing without medicine. Please do not forget that none of the mentioned tips will instantly get rid of a cough, but if your baby has an uncomplicated upper respiratory tract infection, it should resolve with other symptoms within a few days.

You know how your child usually acts. If your child is happily playing, still has a good appetite, taking in enough fluids and voiding well, they may be on their way to fighting it off on their own.

The Head Elevation Therapy

The head elevation therapy reduces the drainage of mucus from the nose and sinuses down to the throat, which is the initial offset of a nighttime cough. Elevation can be achieved by placing a pillow under the mattress in your baby’s crib. Avoid putting pillows or other objects into the crib because they can lead to suffocation or lead to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Mild Hydration is another Great Magic

Give your baby warm or cold liquid or milk formula if you are formula feeding. Both warm and cold liquids keep your child’s throat moist and help thin out the mucus, make it easier to cough up and soothe the throat. You are also advised to give your baby plenty of liquids during the day to keep him/her well hydrated. Just like adults, babies need more fluids to stay hydrated when they are sick. Take note of how much and how often your child is going to the bathroom. Decreased urination is may be a sign that your child is not taking in enough fluids, and is worth taking note of and to mention to your provider.

Get Rid of Dry Air by Humidifying the Environment

Dry air irritates the airways and makes coughing worse in both children and adults. A humidifier will help relieve nasal congestion and supports better breathing by which less irritating mucus will be drained into the throat of your baby. But you must be careful when making use of humidifiers because they are an ideal breeding ground for mold and bacteria. It is highly recommended that you clean it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Additionally, performing research on the type of filter your humidifier is beneficial.


Sit in the bathroom with your child while letting the shower run. The steam will act as a humidifier to soothe your child’s irritated airways and thin up and mucus. Giving them a bath after that may assist in helping them a good night’s sleep (not to mention for mom too)

Say No to Self Medication

Avoid the use of herbal remedies and over-the-counter cough medications unless you were explicitly allowed to use them by your baby’s provider. Although some can be very helpful for older children, most herbal remedies, and over-the-counter cough solutions can cause serious side effects in babies. Always check with your provider for medications and dosings.

Sleep Position Matters

The best sleep position to stop coughing in children depends upon the cause of a cough.

For coughs associated with cold sleeping on your back may cause a post nasal drip to cause your nasal discharge to drip down your throats) and aggravate your cough.

In such cases, a proper steam inhalation followed by blowing your child’s nose and having him/her sleep on sideways may help.

For a cough associated with allergies change in position may not help unless your kid has a blocked nose. In kids with cardiac disorders sleeping on the lateral side will definitely help.

Using one pillow to raise the child’s head to avoid regurgitation from the stomach can provide benefits.

The Use of Honey for a Cough

Honey has been a remedy since ancient times. This is because honey has a unique chemical make up that provides real healing properties. First, honey is a natural antiseptic. With its thick consistency, allows the honey to soothe and coat that throat. It also neutralizes harmful bacteria that could be infected the throat. These properties alone make honey a better option for treating children’s coughing, but honey has more to offer. Dark honey, like buckwheat honey, has a high concentration of antioxidants. This helps the body to prevent and repair cell damage. As you can see, honey not only will help make your child feel better, but it will also help them to recover faster by preventing cell damage from coughing fits. Be careful when administering honey depending on your child’s and other conditions, always double check with your provider.

Hand Hygiene

Another important thing to practice at home is good hand hygiene. Washing hands prevents further spread of any bacteria or viruses. Thus helping your home stay healthy. It may be worthwhile to disinfect toys and other things around your house that child has been in contact with. I’m sure you would not want a repeat episode of what you went through.


Besides following the tips mentioned above, it is crucial to keep your child’s room and beddings very neat. This is another of eliminating another cause of coughing such as allergies. Allow your child to rest, a lot. Make sure your child is taking in lots of fluids. This will bring faster relief from coughs especially at night.


About the Author: Cristy Murray is a mom of 2 active boys, wife and Nurse Practitioner. She shares the reality and struggles of being a working mom and wife. In her blog ALASKAMOMLIFE.COM, she writes about Mom-Life and Wellness and aims to help working mothers stay healthy, fit and find the elusive work-life balance. Get her free eBook “Get more ENERGY” here!

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