Cough Medicine for Kids

Cough Medicine for Kids

Cough Medicine for Kids


Before you reach for that cough and cold medicine for kids at the nearby pharmacy, please take pause. Though these were once commonplace and thought to be safe, we now have some evidence to suggest otherwise. I can still remember the grape taste of the liquid my parents thought was the best medicine for cold.  Times have changed though, and I wouldn’t even consider using a similar medicine for my children.

For one, evidence shows that children’s cough and cold medicine doesn’t even help improve symptoms of a cold. In addition, there are potential side effects, especially in young children.


Which medications are we worried about?

  1. Cough suppressants – containing dextromethorphan (or ‘DM’)
  2. Decongestants – containing pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine
  3. Cough expectorants – guaifenesin
  4. Antihistamines – such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), chlorpheniramine and brompheniramine

These ingredients are commonly in cough and cold medicine for kids.


What are the concerns?

  1. Many of these medicines have not been studied well in children.
  2. There are potential dangers to your child’s heart rate and rhythm, blood pressure and level of consciousness if too much medication is consumed.
  3. Having the medicines in the house increases the risk of accidental consumption.


My recommendations for cough and cold medication use in kids?

  1. Do not give to any child under the age of 6, unless instructed by a physician
  2. Children on other prescription medication should check with their doctor to ensure there are no dangerous interactions.
  3. Never give your children adult cough and cold medicine.
  4. For children older than 6, if you chose to use these medications please follow the instructions on the box, and use the enclosed measuring dropper or dosing cup.
  5. Make sure your child is seen by a physician if you are worried about their symptoms or they are getting more sick.


To read more about my suggestions for remedying common cold symptoms in children, and to see my favorite home remedy for cough.


Dina M. Kulik, MD, FRCPC, PEM

About Dina M. Kulik, MD, FRCPC, PEM

Dina is a wife, mother of 4, and adrenaline junky. She loves to share children’s health information from her professional and personal experience. More About Dr Dina.

Visit My Website
View All Posts

Author Box Contact Form

Form used on Contact Tab in the Author-Box.

7 thoughts on “Cough Medicine for Kids

  1. Vanessa

    Great article – thank you! At the end you mention ‘favourite home remedy for cough’, but I can’t seem to find the link and a search of your website doesn’t bring it up either. Would love to see the article – could you post a link? (I would be using this remedy with my 19 month old.)

    Thanks again,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *