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Cough medicine for kids

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 2 minutes read

Walking into a pharmacy can be quite overwhelming when it comes to trying to choose the right product to ease your child’s cough. The first thing to know is that the science behind cough medicines is not conclusive, but anecdotally people find them effective in helping to reduce their cough’s severity.

The second is that your child’s cough is most likely caused by a virus – occasionally a bacterial infection– and the cough medicines are designed to ease symptoms but they can’t cure it or make it go away any quicker.

The third thing to bear in mind is that coughs are worse at night – gravity when lying flat causes the secretions from their nose, throat and chest to pool and irritate -just when you want them to get a good night’s sleep. So, cough medicines may be a good idea at night and to have by the bedside in case they awaken with a coughing fit.

Your child’s age is a good place to start when choosing a cough medicine. Many cough medicines are not suitable for children under the age of 6 years unless directed by a physician. For kids younger than 6 months, Tylenol infant suspension and Motrin infant suspension can be used to provide some relief if your child has a persistent cough causing discomfort associated with a temperature. Different types of ingredients found within cough syrups have different properties to soothe irritation, hopefully aiding comfort and soothing them to sleep.

Doctor’s advice


Bronchostop Junior is an example of a cough medicine that contains honey. Honey is an ancient herbal remedy that has been used for many years to line and coat the throat to soothe the membranes. The benefit of Bronchostop is that it is free from artificial ingredients and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), lactose and gluten. It should not be used in children under 1 year old as there is a risk of developing botulinum toxicity.

Other natural products

There is a whole line of natural cough products formulated for children made by Zarbee’s. Some of these ingredients include ivy leaf extract, black elderberry fruit extract, zinc, and dark honey.


Guaifenesin is an ingredient known as an expectorant. It is used to treat coughs by encouraging the secretion of sputum from the chest, providing relief and a feeling of being able to breathe more easily. It is found in combination with other ingredients, such as the cough suppressant dextromethorphan. It is usually for children over the age of 6 years old.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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