Coughs in Children

A persistent cough can be tough, especially if it’s keeping them – and you – awake at night. So it’s good to know a few ways to calm a cough and help everyone drift off to sweet dreams.


How do I know if my little one has a cough?

  • Very simple – you’ll hear it!

While your child’s cough is often distressing to listen to it is actually doing a job. A cough is a reflex action that helps clear away phlegm or mucus.

How can I help them feel better?

If your child is over 1 year old, give them a warm drink of diluted lemon juice and honey. The honey coats their throat, which helps reduce the irritation.

Handy tip

Cuddles can go a long way to make your child feel better.

Some more simple tips

  • Make sure your little one gets lots of rest and drinks plenty of fluids
  • A warm drink at bedtime can soothe them to sleep.

How long will it last?

  • Most coughs clear up within three weeks.
  • You might find that a dry cough comes alongside a cold.

When to call the doctor

Coughs are normally nothing to worry about, but they can be really distressing and uncomfortable – especially if your baby is too little to understand what’s going on.

You should go and see your GP if:

  • your little one has a bad cough that won’t go away
  • the cough turns wheezy
  • your child also has a high temperature
  • your little one isn’t eating or drinking normally
  • and if, at any time, your child seems to be having difficulty breathing, contact your GP immediately.
  • The information on this page is not exhaustive. You know your child best, if you have any concerns about your child, you should contact your GP.

See also

Sore throat
Sore throat

Your little one might well have a dry, sore throat for a day or two before a cold kicks in.

More about sore throat


CALPOL® Infant Suspension
CALPOL® Infant Suspension


Contains paracetamol.
For babies and children aged 2 months to 6 years weighing more than 4kg and not premature.Tough on pain and fever. Gentle on the tummy.

Full product details

Contact the HSE

For health advice and reassurance.

1850 24 1850