top of page
  • Writer's picturePriya Thomas

Navigating Cough and Cold Medications for Children: A Closer Look at Safe Practices

Cough and cold symptoms are prevalent, especially during the winter season, and children are no exception. As a parent, it is crucial to navigate through various medications cautiously, considering the unique vulnerabilities of children's respiratory systems. This blog post will explore the reasons why cough and cold medications are not recommended for children under the age of six and provide a safer alternative for those over the age of one.

Understanding the Risks:

Before delving into alternatives, it's essential to comprehend why conventional cough and cold medications are not suitable for young children. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), these medications may pose increased toxicity and side effects in children due to their developing metabolism [AAP]. Therefore, it is strongly advised not to use over-the-counter cough and cold medications for children under the age of six [AAP].

Cough and cold medication

Diagnosing Upper Respiratory Infections:

When a child exhibits cough and cold symptoms, it is crucial to rule out more severe conditions like pneumonia or asthma. Consulting with a healthcare professional to examine the child's lungs is imperative to ensure accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment [CDC]. Once serious conditions are ruled out, the most likely culprit is an upper respiratory infection.

Alternatives for Children Under Six:

For children under the age of six, it is crucial to avoid over-the-counter cough and cold medications. Instead, consider natural remedies like steam inhalation, saline nasal drops, and maintaining proper hydration to alleviate symptoms [AAP]. These methods can help soothe the child's discomfort without exposing them to unnecessary risks.


Honey as a Safe Alternative for Children Over One:

For children over the age of one, a safe and effective alternative to cough and cold medications is plain honey. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends honey as a cough suppressant, citing its effectiveness in reducing cough frequency and severity [WHO]. Parents can administer a teaspoon to a tablespoon of honey to children over one year old. However, it is crucial to note that honey should not be given to infants under the age of one due to the risk of infant botulism [CDC].

Navigating cough and cold medications for children requires a careful consideration of their age and the potential risks associated with over-the-counter options. For children under six, it is advisable to explore natural remedies and consult with healthcare professionals. For those over one, plain honey emerges as a safe and viable alternative, providing relief without compromising their well-being. Prioritizing the health and safety of our children is paramount, and informed decisions regarding medication use can contribute to their overall well-being.


Dr. Priya Thomas is a dedicated pediatrician at Mindful Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, providing compassionate and expert care to the communities of Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Cumming, Suwanee, Roswell, and Milton. With a commitment to the well-being of children and adolescents, Dr. Thomas offers comprehensive healthcare services, fostering a nurturing environment for young patients and their families. Trust your child's health to a caring professional in your neighborhood—schedule an appointment with Dr. Priya Thomas today.



bottom of page