Dry cough in babies and toddlers can cause much distress if not taken care of in the right way. But across the globe pediatricians advise against the use of over-the-counter drugs for treating the same because of the potential risk of side effects of such drugs. This is the reason why mothers rely on the age old natural ways and home remedies for dry cough in babies and toddlers.

How to recognize Dry Cough?

When your baby has a cough without any phlegm or mucus, it is called dry cough. If persistent, it can leave your little one’s chest and tummy sore and make him exhausted. Dry coughs are especially prominent during evenings and nights.

If you are a first-time mom and your little munchkin is suffering from dry cough, there are a few things you need to know before you explore the home remedies for dry cough in babies and toddlers. This article is divided into three. The first part deals with the causes, second, the reason why it is advisable to use home remedies for dry cough in babies and toddlers and last part about home remedies for dry cough in babies and toddlers.

Dry vs wet cough

Dry cough is known as a less serious type of cough as it does not produce sputum , while in wet cough mucus is coughed up and it ranges in colour and can be accompanied by fever or fatigue

Viral infections that can lead to cough :

  • Common cold
  • Bronchiolitis
  • Croup
  • Pneumonia
  • Pharyngitis etc

Home Remedies for Dry Cough In Babies And Toddlers


1. Cold or Influenza

I have often noticed that a common cold or flu sometimes left behind dry cough in my son. Upon asking our pediatrician I came to know that often viral infections such as common cold or influenza leave a dry cough.

2. Irritants

Environmental particles such as dust, smoke and pollen irritate the baby’s throat and cause dry cough. Strong chemicals and hot dry climate too can result in dry cough.

3. Acid re-flux

Acid re-flux is a phenomenon where the food along with various stomach acids instead of going down, move upward. This is common in babies and not so rare in toddlers but the acids cause irritation in the throat resulting in dry cough.

4. Pertussis or Whooping Cough

Pertussis is a bacterial infection and results in forceful dry cough that refuses to go even after trying various home remedies.

Why it is advisable to use Home Remedies for Dry Cough in Babies and Toddlers?

Over the counter cough medications are not approved for kids below four years of age and there are no studies which suggest that they work on kids younger than four years. This is the reason it is always preferable to try home remedies for dry cough in babies and toddlers unless the condition is severe.

Home Remedies for Dry Cough in Babies and Toddlers

Most of the time dry cough in babies and toddlers can be managed by some simple home remedies. And the bright side of it is that these remedies have no reverse effect on your little one. Below are some home remedies for Dry cough in Babies and that I have found particularly helpful.

1. Clean up

Most often it is the dust, pollutants and pollen that cause irritation in the throat. So, if you notice your baby having dry cough:

  •  Clean her room thoroughly.
  • Change sheets regularly.
  • Dust the curtains and blinds.
  • Allow fresh air to circulate in the house by opening the windows.

2. Keep your baby’s head elevated

This one works for babies and toddlers alike. I have seen that a slight elevation of head helps my little one sleep better when he has spells of dry cough.

For infants: Try to place a few layers soft cotton fabric just below the neck to raise her head.

For older babies (above six months of age): Place soft baby pillows beneath their neck and head. This helps them breath better.

3. Hydration

Frequent coughs often leave the throat dehydrated and dry. So, take extra care to ensure your child drinks plenty of fluids like water and warm milk.

Preferred Age: For Babies above 6 months of age

Note: For babies below six months: Breast milk is the best remedy for Dry cough. Apart from hydration breast milk is loaded with antibodies that helps your little one fight against any infection.

4. Use of Humidifier

Humidifiers make the atmosphere humid.  I have seen that they work wonders especially in winters. If you do not have one, you can turn on the hot shower in the bathroom till it is sufficiently humid. Stay with your baby in the bathroom for something. It hydrates and soothes the throat and helps them sleep better.

Home Remedies for Dry Cough In Babies And Toddlers5. Honey

Honey is known for its antibiotic properties and is one of the favorite home remedy for coughs. When my son had a spell of dry cough a few weeks back, my mother advised to give him a teaspoon of honey twice a day. After a couple of days his cough was almost gone.

Preferred Age: For babies above one year of age

Note: However, it is important to note that feeding honey to babies below one year of age is strictly prohibited as there is a chance of potential allergy.

Home Remedies for Dry Cough In Babies And Toddlers

6. Basil and Ginger Tea

This is considered as one of the best home remedy for Dry Cough in Toddlers.

Procedure to make Basil and Ginger Tea:

  • Heat about one cup of water till it starts boiling.
  • Add a few basil leaves (Tulsi leaves) and one teaspoon of crushed ginger to it.
  • Let the concoction simmer till it reduces to half.
  • Add a teaspoon of honey and give it to your little one twice daily.

Preferred Age: For babies above one year of age

7. Mustard oil massage

Oil massage is popularly known to relieve stress and fatigue. When dry cough leaves your baby exhausted and sore, massaging her chest, back and neck with warm mustard oil relieves her from discomfort and fatigue thereby making her sleep better. This is one of the best home remedies for dry cough in babies and toddlers.

Home Remedies for Dry Cough In Babies And Toddlers8. Serve hot soups

Anything warm instantly soothes the throat. So, when your little one suffers from dry cough, serve hot vegetable soup. And if your child is a fussy eater you can always give the age-old vegetable soup a twist accordingly. You can make it tangy with a hint of lemon juice or a little hot with a sprinkle of pepper. You can also substitute veggies with chicken if that’s what your baby prefers.

Preferred Age: For babies above one year of age

 9. Salt water gargle

One of the best home remedies is salt water gargle or mixing half a tablespoon of salt in water and gargling with that solution as it eases cough causing irritation in the throat.

10. Chest rub

Clear the chest congestion or dry cough with a chest rub for ex-vicks babyrub which contains ingredients that will provide great support in the sound sleep of the baby

Home remedies (birth-6 months age)

  • Garlic and carom seeds roasted and placed in a muslin cloth and kept on the baby’s pillow can help in fighting cough due to its antibacterial property
  • Crushed Tulsi leaves in ½ cup of coconut oil should be heated and applied on baby’s chest, feet and throat
  • Nasal saline drops can be very effective in fighting from dry cough

Home remedies (6-10 months age)

  • Cumin water can b one the best home remedy due to its antibacterial and anti inflammatory properties that helps in relieving cough
  • Carrot juice or carrots in warm water is a great source for fighting dry cough in babies of 6 to 10 months

Home remedies (10-12 months age)

  • Coconut oil and a pinch of camphor after heating the coconut oil and applying to your baby can provide quick relief from dry cough
  • Increase the fluid intake to prevent the mucus from thickening
  • Okra soup is another source to provide relief to the baby from cold or cough

A word of caution: For babies below six months of age who are exclusively breastfed, breast milk is the best remedy for most ailments including dry cough. No other alternative should be used without consulting your physician.

So, these were the Home Remedies for Dry Cough in Babies and Toddlers.

Disclaimer: These home remedies that I have mentioned in this article of mine are my own tested and tried on my son. In case of any unfortunate effect or side effect, and if the situation worsens, you may please consult your pediatrician.

Tips to relax your child

  • Drink warm fluids for relief from the sore throat
  • Use a humidifier as it will help in opening the child’s airway etc

When to visit a pediatrician?

If the cough lasts for longer than 2 to 3 weeks, dry cough is turned into wet cough, fever is there along with dry cough or signs of dehydration is seen, seek assistance immediately.

Happy Positive Parenting with Budding Star

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About Satarupa Mishra

Satarupa Mishra homemaker and mother of a lovely baby boy formerly worked as a researcher in the field of plant biochemistry. An author in making, Satarupa loves to write about her personal experiences as a mom and everyday struggles of women in India. Minimalist, travel enthusiast and book lover since childhood her nocturnal romance with writing is a recent pursuit.

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