Cough Medicines

Cough Medicines

OVER THE COUNTER COUGH & COLD MEDICINES ARE NOT RECOMMENDED FOR CHILDREN UNDER 4 YEARS OF AGE. Federal health advisors say cold and cough medicines do not work for younger children (and can be harmful when given improperly or in combination with other medications). For children over 1 year of age with a cough, we recommend giving honey (1/2 to 1 teaspoon as needed). Never give honey to babies. If honey is not available, you can use corn syrup. Please call our Nurse Line for more information regarding treating cough symptoms for children under 4 years of age.

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Cough medicines fall into two distinct categories. A cough expectorant is designed to help loosen bronchial secretions and make coughs more productive. A cough suppressant is designed to suppress the body's instinct to cough. A cough is the body's natural defense against excess mucous in the lungs. Ordinarily during the day, it is best to assist the body in this natural function and not use a cough suppressant (though an expectorant may be used to loosen bronchial secretions). However, if nighttime coughing episodes interfere with your child's ability to sleep, you may consider using a cough suppressant at night. Your pharmacy contains a wide variety of over the counter cough medicines, many of which are available in generic formulas. Because active ingredients and formulations change frequently, we recommend you consult package instructions for dosing instructions, potential side effects and interactions with other medications. Cough drops may be given to children over age 6. 


SOME FORMULAS CONTAIN A COMBINATION OF INGREDIENTS – BE CAREFUL NOT TO DUPLICATE ACTIVE INGREDIENTS BY GIVING YOUR CHILD MULTIPLE MEDICATIONS. For example, some combination cold medicines contain Tylenol (acetaminophen) and should not be given in combination with separate dosages of acetaminophen.

Information regarding treatment for cough and cold can be found on the following pages of this website:



If you have additional concerns regarding treatment for cough and cold synptoms, please contact our Nurse Line at (303) 699-6200, option #2.

Disclaimer:  If you are not a patient of Advanced Pediatric Associates, we recommend that you consult with your own physician regarding health concerns. This information is provided as a guide to our patients, but in no way replaces the advice given by our staff. Occasionally, advice given by our providers or nurse line may vary slightly from that offered by Pediatric Web and its contributors. If you are unsure of any issue regarding your child's health, please call our Patient Care Line at (303) 699-6200. 

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