Dry cough in babies and toddlers can cause much distress if not taken care of in the right way. But across the globe paediatricians 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.

There are numerous home remedies for dry cough for kids that are super effective and require only staples found in your kitchen. Apart from that, simple actions like a chest rub or keeping your baby’s head up high are also some effective dry cough remedies for kids

Read on to know more about dry cough along with some effective home remedies for dry cough in babies.

How to recognize Dry Cough?

When your baby has a cough without any phlegm or mucus, it is called a 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 a 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, the second, the reason why it is advisable to use home remedies for dry cough in babies and toddlers and the last part is 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 a dry cough in my son. Upon asking our paediatrician I came to know that often viral infections such as the 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 a hot dry climate too can result in a dry cough.

3. Acid Reflux

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

4. Pertussis or Whooping Cough

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

5. Allergies

Allergies are another thing that can cause coughing in children. This occurs when the immune system mistakenly sees something that is harmless and overreacts.

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. Regardless of that, most medicines are made of chemicals that may be too strong for babies and/or toddlers. This is the reason it is always preferable to try home remedies for dry cough in babies and toddlers unless the condition is severe. However, if home remedies don’t end up working for the treatment of coughs, always check with your doctor before giving your baby or toddler any over-the-counter medications.

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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 a 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 the head helps my little one sleep better when he has spells of dry cough.

For infants: Try to place a few layers of 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 breathe 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 help 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 winter. 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 considered to be a very powerful food item when it comes to alleviating a lot of illnesses. Using honey as one of the dry cough home remedies for kids can prove to be very beneficial and is far better than any medicine. A few teaspoons of honey throughout the day can be really effective and won’t cause any side effects.

Honey is known for its antibiotic properties and is one of the favourite home remedies for coughs. When my son had a spell of dry cough a few weeks back, my mother advised me 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

Ginger has both anti-bacterial as well as anti-inflammatory properties, making it a powerful weapon against colds. It’s a great home remedy for dry cough for kids and is a powerful ingredient to fight off colds. On the other hand, basil can help turn the cough into liquid form for easy passage. It’s also associated with fighting off various allergic-related coughs caused by asthma, bronchitis etc. This is considered one of the best home remedies 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 a 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 a 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

When we have a cough or a cold, the first thing anyone, including doctors, suggests is a saltwater gargle. Rightly so, they are an effective dry cough remedy for kids that is extremely safe to use. It’s very simple to make and can be done a few times a day for beneficial results. 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 babyrubs which contains ingredients that will provide great support in the sound sleep of the baby. A good chest rub with some herbal oils can also make for some great dry cough home remedies for kids. 

11. Tasty Treats

Popsicles such as Kulfi and other frozen or hard berries and candies can help soothe dry and scratchy throats.

Preferred Age: For Babies above 6 months of age

Note: Go for sugar-free options to keep them from being hyperactive.

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 their antibacterial property.
  • Crushed Tulsi leaves in ½ cup of coconut oil should be heated and applied to the baby’s chest, feet and throat.
  • Nasal saline drops can be very effective in fighting 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.

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Home remedies (10-12 months age)

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

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.
  • Turn on the hot water in the bathroom and shut all the doors and windows until the room is filled with steam. Sit here for 20 or more minutes.

When to visit a paediatrician?

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

Also, know more about your baby’s diet with different food charts like the 8-month baby food chart.

FAQs on Dry Cough in Babies

1. Is it normal for babies to have a dry cough?

It is not uncommon for babies to have a dry cough, especially during cold and flu season. However, a persistent or severe cough even after trying several home remedies for baby cough, may be a sign of an underlying health issue. If you are concerned about your baby’s cough, it is important to try important kids’ cough home remedies.

2. When should you worry about a baby’s cough?

As a general rule, you should consult a paediatrician or healthcare provider if your baby has a persistent or severe cough or any of the following symptoms:

  1. Difficulty breathing or rapid breathing
  2. High fever
  3. Wheezing or whistling sounds when breathing
  4. Cyanosis (bluish discolouration of the lips, face, or tongue)
  5. Refusal to eat or drink
  6. Signs of dehydration, such as dry mouth or decreased urination
  7. Unusual irritability or lethargy

These symptoms can also lead to serious health conditions, such as pneumonia, bronchiolitis, asthma, or an allergic reaction. It is important to seek prompt medical attention if you are concerned about your baby’s cough or if you notice any of these symptoms despite trying several dry cough remedies at home.

3. Can a baby’s cough go away on its own?

Yes, in many cases, a baby’s cough will go away on its own within a week or two after you try home remedies for dry cough at night, especially if it is caused by a common cold or flu virus. However, it is important to monitor your baby’s symptoms and consult with a paediatrician or healthcare provider if the cough persists or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or high fever. 

You may be interested in reading-

Natural and Herbal Remedies for Cold and Cough for Kids. Click here to read more

Read more about the importance of parents in the family and how to inculcate and teach those values to your kids too.

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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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