Cough Remedies for Kids

| Modified on Mar 09, 2024
Chopped Onion

A child's cough is miserable for everyone; when a child coughs, he is miserable and so are his parents.  Fortunately, many home remedies work quite well for a cough. A cough in a child can be caused by a virus, bacteria or allergies.

Treating the Symptoms

Very often, a cough in a child comes along with a cold or flu virus, and treating the symptoms of the cold or flu will often help the cough. When we have a cough in our family, we do the following:

  • We cut back on dairy products.
  • I try to increase fluids.
  • I serve hot vinegar tea. (1 teaspoon raw apple cider vinegar, 1-2 teaspoons honey, 3 - 4 ounces or so of hot water for children, half as much for toddlers, and no honey for children under a year old.)

Treating Night Coughs

A cough often worsens at night, disrupting a child's sleep and that of his parents.

Eucalyptus Oil

I have found that putting a drop of eucalyptus essential oil on a cotton ball and placing it near my child's pillow will help his cough a lot!

Raw Onion

A raw onion, chopped and placed in a bowl near the pillow, is also a great help for a cough. Getting up in the middle of the night to chop an onion isn't my favorite thing to do, but often, after I do this, my child will sleep the rest of the night without coughing!

Food Allergies Can Cause A Cough

One of my children seemed to have a "nervous cough."  He would constantly clear his throat while reading to himself.  It reminded me of a nervous tic. It turned out to be a food allergy.  Avoiding the offending foods gave immediate relief. After a year of a modified diet, he could again eat whatever he liked and hasn't had any trouble since, and that was ten years ago.

Seasonal Allergies or Asthma

Sometimes, a cough accompanies seasonal allergies or asthma.

Stinging Nettle

The herb-stinging nettle works wonderfully for this. Nettle is an old-time spring tonic and a food. It can be used often. One of my children took nettles for a year. It kept him free of asthma symptoms; indeed, it seemed to cure them!  This should not be a surprise, as nettle is a blood purifier.

Dry Air

Some children will cough because the air is dry.  A cool mist humidifier can help a lot with this.

Don't Overuse Cough Medicine

Limit use of over-the-counter cough medicine. The cough is the body's way of ridding the lungs of irritants or infections. If a cough is continually suppressed, bacteria or viruses stay in the lungs and can become pneumonia.

Prepare Garlic Oil or Quick Garlic Salve

Garlic Oil Recipe

To be ready for a cough when it comes along, make some garlic oil ahead of time.

  • I get a jar that holds about one cup and crush cloves of garlic into it until it is half full. 
  • Then I pour olive oil over the garlic, enough to cover.  I let this sit for ten days.
  • I strain out the garlic and I store this oil in the refrigerator until needed.  It will last for several months if stored in the fridge. 
  • I put a dime-sized amount of oil onto my hand and rub it onto the chest and/or back of a coughing child.  Whoa, the smell is strong, but it rarely fails to quiet a cough. 
  • Sometimes I add one drop of diluted oregano oil (25% oregano oil and 75% olive oil) into the dime-sized amount of garlic oil and get the double whammy of oregano and garlic. I call it the pizza treatment!  Best if used when the child is wearing old clothes!  The oil can stain clothes, and the garlic smell may not be easy to get out.  But it rarely fails!

Quick Garlic Salve

If you do not have garlic oil ready when a cough hits, you can make a quick garlic salve.

In a blender, combine and blend the following:

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil;
  • 3 Tablespoons of Olive oil;
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic (4-6 cloves for a baby.);
  • 5 drops of lavender essential oil.
  • Strain out any excess garlic.
  • Massage salve onto the chest and or back of a coughing child.  If that seems too strong for your child, you can massage a little bit onto the soles of the feet every couple of hours instead. 
  • Store in the refrigerator.  I don't think this lasts as long as the oil recipe.  Make a fresh batch for each sickness. 

Recipe credit - Rachel Weaver, Be your Own Doctor.

Not only does the garlic oil or salve help the cough, I believe it is also killing the infection.  I try to give the garlic treatment every two hours during the day.  It has been a wonderful remedy for us.

Please read on to see what Earth Clinic readers have found helpful for a cough in children! Contact us with your special treatments!

Related Links:

Chronic Cough Remedies
Fast and Effective Natural Remedies for Cough

Apple Cider Vinegar

12 User Reviews
5 star (12) 

Posted by Bb (Illinois) on 05/30/2016

Had family in town for Memorial Day and one of the cousins brought along a head cold with tickling repetitive night cough and pink eye that my 3.5 year-old got :( Before bed I wiped his eyes out with 50/50 hydrogen peroxide and warm water a few times (he didn't complain of stinging or anything), and also dribbled some HP into each ear (3%).

Then at 3am with the persistent dry-cough keeping us both up, I made a concoction of 1 Tspn raw apple cider vinegar with 1 teaspoon of raw honey and a bit of warm water to melt honey-- equaled 10mls of syrup. I also wiped his eyes out again with the 50/50 hydrogen solution. In the morning his eyes weren't even crusty, and showed no signs of gunk (maybe a tiny corner later in the day) and he was in perfect spirits with no runny nose, just a little stuffiness remained.

His cough was still present when reclined, so I gave him another 10ml Apple cider vinegar/honey concoction after a warm bath, and gave him 0.5mls of sublingual melatonin at bed (1ml tablet broken in half), and he slept deeply without coughing all night. I don't generally use melatonin for my kids, but the pediatrician had recommended a natural cough syrup that was basically made up of 'dark honeys', a minimal amount of vitamin C and zinc, and 0.5 mg of Melatonin, so I mimicked the ingredients but with a healthier version, IMO. And now we have our happy healthy boy back! I would say all thanks to the HP and ACV :)

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Andrei (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) on 01/06/2015

I just want to thank Earth Clinic and the contributors who advised me to mix ACV with fruit juice so I can make my son take it to cure his cough and cold. It did mask the taste. I have also used ACV as dip for roasted fish and meat and my son really liked it! It has now become my favorite dressing/dip for steamed veggies and fresh fruits.

There's no daily intake limit for ACV right? I am planning to mix it with fruit juices as refreshment even if we have no ailments. Is that okay? Thanks again!

Replied by Layla


You want to watch your intake, especially for a child. For some people a moderate daily amount is fine, for others consuming ACV daily is too often and they end up with problems like corroded teeth or bleeding stomach. It is vinegar, after all. I use it myself to address specific problems when they arise, otherwise not more than on salads and such.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Linterest (Brisbane, Australia) on 11/05/2013

My son has had a cough for several weeks. He has had a diagnosis of mild pneumonia and 2 course of anti-biotics. The cough has remained. I tried another apple cider vinegar remedy on another site. I decided to check what works for most earth clinic peoples and found that generally apple cider vinegar and honey in warm water seemed successful. I made him drink 2 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and 1 teas of honey (I am a mean mum and I am strict on sugar). It honestly worked a treat and his cough seemed to have cleared up in a day!

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Faith (Kerikeri, New Zealand) on 11/19/2012

My 5 year old daughter has had a very persistent cough, for over 2 weeks, the last few nights have been very long, as she coughs all night, to the point of gagging, all other remedies were not helping, have today given her 3 doses of 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon of honey and a dash of hot water to dissolve honey, she drinks it rather happily, and it has made a huge difference today, her coughing has been cut by more than half, I would fully advise everyone to at least give it a try. Am hoping for a quiet night of sleep, so far so good!!

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Brenda (Charlotte, Nc) on 11/11/2012

2 Tablespoons water, 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar, 1 Tablespoon honey. It worked! My daughter has the flu, and has been coughing non stop for days (a dry, non-prductive cough. ) I tried vapor rub, plain honey, cough medicine, and finally her nebulizer. Nothing worked. I saw a recipe for the acv and honey and was thrilled to see the success rate. I am SO relieved, plus I now have a bit of silence now and then ;)

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Kels (Philly, Pa) on 10/17/2011

My poor 4 year-old had the worst cough he has ever had. I tried treating it with honey, chest rub (on chest and feet), diluted apple juice, bananas (he got tired of those after only one) and cough drops. Well let me tell you, after reading your remedy of 1/2 teaspoon honey, 1/2 teaspoon vinegar and 1/4 cup of water, and trying it - he was 50% better after the first dosage.

I used Manuka Honey and unfiltered ACV with warmed water from the stove, he said it was strong, but he actually drank it. I was so pleased with the results that I had to reply and tell you and EC - THANKS!!! It was really worth the research and has solidified my faith in natural products.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Kim (Spokane, WA) on 12/11/2008

My son is 5 yrs old and had a nasty cough for almost 2 months. So bad he would wake up in the middle of the night and cough to the point of vomiting. Being desperate I looked on line and came upon this site with all the testimonies. The next morning I gave him a mixture of 1 Tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar, 1/2 Tablespoon of honey in 1/2 cup of hot water. Within 5 mins it worked. He now drinks it 3 times a day. I couldn't believe after spending alot of money on many different over-the-counter medication that there was a simple solution at home. Thanks

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Joyce (Joelton, Tn) on 11/09/2007 495 posts

Apple Cider Vinegar used half & half with honey makes a very good cough syrup which will also cure strep. When my 3 youngest children got chickenpox at the same time, the older and younger of the 3 were faring much better than the middle one who kept running a fever. The next morning he had classic scarlet fever rash in groin to explain why. Yep, ACV / honey mixture to the rescue - I gave all 3 a tsp. every two hours or so. Next morning the ones rash in groin was decreased, and the other 2 never got it. I kept them on it for a couple more days.

After hospitals dis- covered they were spreading pseudomonas aeruginosa via the oxygen equipment, they removed this "hospital scourge infection" by soaking the equipment in 1 part vinegar - 7 parts water, so who knows what else it will cure.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Kalpana (Nebraska, USA) on 05/30/2007

For coughing I used Vinegar and Honey. My son has been coughing for 3 years continously...would bring tears to my eyes. Most nights I would hear him coughing from his room and wonder what else can I do to make this better. We tried several doctors, steroids, everything possible that goes with it. I came across this site last night and gave him Vinegar and honey after a lot of coaxing and ...NO COUGH EVER SINCE. HE IS AMAZED AND SO AM I. You guys are mounting up your good Karma. Thanks a ton for sharing.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Bonnie (Dallas, TX) on 02/22/2007

My son has been coughing for more than 2 weeks and it kept getting worse the last two days. He coughed so much that he threw up everything he ate. We took him to the Doctor and he was diagnosed with viral infection. The Dr. suggested to give him over the counter coughing medicine. We tried different brands but none seemed to work for him. Yesterday, my husband found this remedy from and suggested us to try on him. It was amazing. I just couldn't believe it. My son stopped coughing immediately after 15-20 minutes of taking about a tablespoon of the mix. We bought Apple Cider Vinegar and mixed it with raw honey. It doesn't taste good but it really works. I'm writing here to thank It's like a miracle happening to us

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Donna (Corona, CA) on 12/05/2006

My 9 yr old daughter was sick and out of school for a whole week. I was giving her cough medicine, cough drops wasn't working so I took her to the DR. and they gave her some stronger cough medicine and antibiotic's. It wasn't working neither. It got a little better after giving her the entire bottle, but it wasn't completely gone. After sending her back to school for two days, we had a wind storm and it got really cold so she got back sick at school playing outside in the cold. The bad cough and cold came back so this time I went and got $25.00 worth of over the counter cold medicine and a vapor risor, multi-vitamins with extra C etc.. She was still coughing non stop after all this medication and I decided to go online and see what kind of home remedy I could find. God as my witness, it was like a miracle when I gave my 9 yr old the vinegar (2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar) and water mixture she stopped coughing after about 30 minutes. She was coughing so bad I felt helpless and didn't know what else I could do. After only1 dosage the cough stopped for about 4 hours after that it started back a little and I gave her some more and she's been fine and back to school without any problems. Thank you for a very valuable site! It's amazing I have another story about my son who later that evening got food poisoning from McDonalds and I came to the site for more advice. I gave him 2 tbsp spoon of vinegar and he's 11 year old. He was fine after that and went to sleep without throwing up or being up all night. The next morning he ate breakfast without any problem. Before when he had food poison it was a night mare I'll never forget. I was up with him all night and he was constantly throwing up. I wish I had of found this when my first child which is 19 yrs old now was born.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Flint (Austin, TX)

I have 2 children that have never been immunized for whom I have made all medicines for at home all their lives. My 2 year old was suffering from a chronic cough. It lasted 5 months and none of my syrups, oils, tinctures etc were eliminating it. One day I was eating salad with a vinaigrette. He asked specifically for the dressing and drank 2 oz straight!! He continued to ask for it daily since and has seemed to have cured himself! The cough has subsided and I feel that it is due to the apple cider vinegar! What a smart guy!

Apple Cider Vinegar + Coconut Oil

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Julie C (Louisiana ) on 01/07/2024

My daughter who rarely detoxes ('gets sick')- finally did last week and although no fever she had a cough and runny nose. A dry cough that kept her up. I did all the things to keep her feeling good, warm baths with salts etc. I looked on EC and found the ACV + honey treatment for cough. So I gave her the 1tbsp of ACV and 1 large tbsp of honey in warm water and it really helped her coughing fits. I gave this to her a few times a day.

On day 3 the cough was persistent, so I tried the coconut oil remedy to hopefully get her to rest....I used organic non refined coconut oil before she went to bed, well the texture was not appealing to her at all - lol - BUT she didn't cough once until the morning!! She was able to get some good sleep finally and let her body heal! That morning I decided to combine the remedies and make an ACV+honey+coconut oil tea and she drank it - that day the coughing was better and better. I gave it to her last night before bed and not one cough for sound sleep and healing again! I also added a pinch of cayenne for good measure! It seems like combinations of treatments do best for us. Thanks everyone for your anectdotes and contributions! Happy healthy 2024 to all ....xo

Cayenne, ACV and Baking Soda

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Sheryl (Edison, NJ) on 12/11/2007

My 3 year old had a very bad cough, chest congestion and fatigue for 2 days...i gave him lemon juice and Apple Cider Vinegar and baking soda. No much effect on cough and it was getting worse. Finally mixed 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne in 2 teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar, baking soda with 1 teaspoon water. Cough stopped instantly and in 10 mins he was playing. chest congestion cleared 80%. Thank you earthclinic. i visit this website regularly.

Coconut Oil

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Mama To Many (Tn) on 11/03/2017

I have seen coconut oil work very well for my adult son when ever he exhibits symptoms of a virus. I learned about that treating mono with coconut oil (amazing cure) and it works so well for him it is a go-to. I recently used it to treat a cough he had. I am learning that with him I should just start with coconut oil.

My six year old has had a cough/cold a couple of weeks ago and it seemed to start back up a couple of days ago. (Same virus, new virus, allergy, I don't really know.) Well, I cut to the chase. I gave him a teaspoon of coconut oil yesterday morning and last night before bed. (Also used onion by the bedside - works every time.) He didn't cough all night. He was coughing when he got up. I gave him another teaspoon of coconut oil. He isn't fond of it - I chase it with something useful - like a spoonful of honey (also good for a cough.) Or just give it to him right before a meal. I just realized it is lunchtime and he hasn't coughed all morning.

~Mama to Many~

Replied by Cheryl
(Vallejo Ca)

Hi, can you tell me what I should use on my 18 month old daughter for wheezing and a bad cough? I can hear it horrible in her chest, no other symptoms and I have tried tea w honey, steam a vaporizer and humidifier it's been almost a month and no sign of letting up. She also has an inhaler that's doing her no good.

Replied by Mmsg
(Somewhere, Europe)

Cheryl, I would first get a doctor's diagnosis for such a young 'un and then go from there.

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