Cough Syrup for Kids: Safe Or Not?

A big question – cough syrup for kids – safe or not?

Kids and babies are prone to catching colds easily due to their weak immune systems. The body of kids is continuously growing, developing, and forming. It takes time for them to develop a strong immune system, and thus catch a cold easily. Slight weather change or exposure to extreme weather conditions or any other cause too can result in cold and congestion in kids. 

The biological systems of children are very different from those of adults. Cold can be both light and heavy sometimes. We can do a lot to cure and treat them but they will always come back in the lives of the human being that are living and prospering. 

This will have an effect on the person and his or her day to day lives. Daily life can be affected in many ways than just breathing problems. People become lazy and also get deeply affected. The best way to fight common cold and cough is a cough syrup for kids.

What does one do when kids fall sick or catch a cold? Take medications to relieve the symptoms and cure themselves with home remedies or take cough syrup for kids in severe symptoms.


What Is A Cough Syrup for Kids?

Cough Syrup for kids is a combination product that is used to temporarily relieve symptoms of cough and cold, like cough, sneezing or runny nose, that is caused due to common cold, viral fever or any other upper respiratory allergies. There is no proven evidence that cough syrups shorten the length of a common cold or specifically cure it. 

These cough syrup for kids are generally also called cough suppressants. Because as the name gives it away, these suppress the symptoms of cold and cough. These can be highly beneficial and useful regarding some causes of cold and cough. But not all of them, so you should better check your symptoms before you take the syrups. 

Some of the dry cough syrups for kids are not over the counter drugs so you should also have a prescription that you are taking the medicine. And if you are doing a self-treatment session then you should read what the instruction manual says. 

Because some cough syrup for kids have timings to be taken in and if you mess it up then you will have to pay a little price like getting your diet messed up. Some cough syrup for kids also affects patients with diabetes and that needs to be noted as well.  

What medicines make up a cough syrup?

General cough syrup for children consists of four ingredients, namely, cough suppressants (such as dextromethorphan), cough expectorants (such as guaifenesin), decongestants (such as pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine) and certain antihistamines (such as brompheniramine, chlorpheniramine maleate and diphenhydramine [Benadryl]. 

These are the main active ingredients of the majority of cough syrup for kids available in the market for children.

Sometimes sugar is added and a bunch of flavors because in all honesty, the general cough syrup is not made to be taste bad. If you just put the chemicals that suppress the cough in a bottle and drink it, you will probably vomit. This is applicable in many cases even in dry cough syrup for kids.

Is cough syrup for kids – SAFE TO USE?

Many studies have proven that cough syrup for kids is not a good choice for babies. It is recommended to never use any over the counter cold and cough medicines for babies and infants, as it causes serious health complications.

It is always preferred to let the baby heal itself and help relieve the symptoms temporarily by using home remedies such as vapor, steam, hot drinks, massage, home-made inhalers, essential oil diffusers, heat compress, and a warm bath. 

Children below the age of 6 years should not be given cough syrup for kids as it barely makes a difference. Moreover, the insides of the digestive systems of infants are not that powerful to digest these chemicals yet.

You can do many numbers of home remedies that can work even better than any cough syrup for kids will do to cure a cold of your infant or child. 

You can still try some over the counter cough syrups for children that are made to work in children to make it a little easier for them. Here we have compiled a number of ways it can benefit and a number of ways it cannot benefit your child.

[Read Home Remedies for Cold and Cough]

The main concern with the usage of cough syrup for kids

Over the counter named best cough syrups for kids are actually made to suppress the symptoms of the cough and cold. These are not made to cure the underlying disease and so they cannot do that.

The cough syrup for kids actually do nothing at all. These cannot work any better than any home remedy and the inactive medicine that is a placebo. The cough medicine for kids has potentially very serious side effects including a fatal overdose side effect that has been seen in children younger than 2 years old. 

So that is the reason why you should never use any over the counter cough syrup for kids in children younger than the age of 6 years. There are however certain things that can be used such as fever reducers and pain relievers. 

How about antibiotics?

Antibiotics can be used in combat against bacterial infections but they have no effect against viruses that are the main reason behind the common cold.

If your child has a condition of cold, antibiotics are probably not going to be of much help. But do not give your child antibiotics often.

If a person is once very used to antibiotics then they will have a higher chance of getting infected with a non-antibiotic killed disease in the coming future. 


Can any medicine actually help in the case of a common cold?

Over the counter pain reliever can do wonders in the case of a common cold if it is very bad. A pain reliever can actually reduce fever in a dramatic manner and can also ease the pain that a child might experience in the case of a sore throat.

However, fevers are actually pretty harmless if they are not too high. The best way of making them better is making your child feel better while he or she is going through this one can try cough syrup for kids.

If you are giving your child a pain reliever though, you need to carefully go through the instructions regarding it. If your child is younger than the age of 6, do not give them the medicine until the child has been checked properly by a doctor.

And there are also cases that involve heavy vomiting and other symptoms that do not require the use of a pain reliever and so you should not use it in those cases. Some pain relievers can actually do a lot of dehydration and can make things not so good. 

If your children also have chickenpox or flu symptoms then he or she should not intake any dosage of aspirin as well. It can actually risk your child’s life. 

Is codeine okay?

No, not at all. This is something that has been strictly restricted to the age of 18 and older and so you should not use it on children.

This can result in many side effects that might risk the life of your child. It can slow down breathing and can also lead to potential addiction to it and in worse cases, death. 

How can I help my child feel better?

You can offer many types of care to make sure that your child remains comfortable during times like these. 

  1. Offering fluids: Liquids such as water and juice actually help a lot during cases like these and these can help in the cases of a sore throat and thin secretions. Warm liquids such as soups and herbal tea can make your child have a soothing effect, increase the overall flow of the mucus and sometimes loosen up respiratory systems. 
  2. Run a humidifier: Humidifiers help add moisture to the air and that can actually help in the cases of the drying of the nasal passages and also the throat. Also please do not forget to clean the humidifier after every use.
  3. Use the amazing tool, nasal saline: Over the counter, saline can keep the flow of air inside the nose steady by clearing out the mucus that can be blocking the inside of your child’s nose. That can make a big difference in the case of a common cold. You can then use suction cups to pull out the mucus inside the nose of the child and that will surely make your child feel way better than before. 
  4. Cold food on sore throat: Trust us, it actually feels good to have cold food like ice creams in the case of a sore throat. But we should always consult a doctor!

[Read Home Remedies for Cold and Cough]

So, if you want to keep your child fit during the winter season then use cough syrup for kids only in severe symptoms. But make sure to use only that product which has no harmful chemicals and safe for your kid. So if your kid is disturbed by cough it is the best idea to use the best cough syrup for kids prescribed by your doctor. But make sure that don’t use cough syrup that you use for adults because for children it is different. 

Wish you healthy and happy parenting!



Divya is a writer, who loves to read and write. She is a Company Secretary by profession. She is passionate about art, reading, writing, music, and creativity. She loves to do research on ‘Parenting’ and discover new things now and then. Her passion about positive parenting pushed her to write on ‘Wonder Parenting’. Her loving daughter, Vachie, helped her to dig deep and reach new heights on Parenting. She believes that ‘Parenting is Patience’ and shares her own journey to express that parenting approach differs for every individual.
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