15 answers

2Yr Old Has Cough Only at Night

Hi, my 2 1/2 yr old son has a barking cough but only at night. During the day he is fine. He had croup about a month ago, but that went away (and he took a medicine for his throat then). He has no fever or other symptoms and is happy and alert during the day. He just has this barking, painful sounding cough that wakes him up at night. I will take him to the doctor, but she usually just gives us albuterol (inhaler -- I think albuterol is the name of it). Perhaps I should ask her for the croup medicine for his throat? Any ideas what this could be and why it is only at night. Could it be an allergy? (I've changed his pillows from down to polyester but it doesn't make a difference. Nothing is new in his room. I also put on a humidifier, but still no difference.) I'd appreciate any help. Thanks!

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Ask for a referral to a pediatric pulmonologist to rule out asthma. My daughter had the same symptoms, and with regular asthma medications we are all now sleeping through the night again.

I hope you both get some sleep soon!

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My 6 month old daughter had a night cough after being sick and her doctor said to elevate the head of her bed a little. Its supposed to help with drainage if he has any mucous in his chest or anything, it helped with her breathing and her cough went away. Also her doctor said childrens benydryl would dry up the fluids in her chest and stop her dry cough but i never got around to getting any so i would adk his doctor to make sure but hope this helps

1 mom found this helpful

My son is 2 1/2 also has this problem. He is getting his molars and there has been some drainage from that. We took him to the Dr. b/c he was puked from coughing. But, his lungs were clear... they think it's allergies. My husband has bad fall allergies from the leaves falling. So, the Dr. suggested Claritin for children. We've been giving it to him since Friday and there has been so much improvement. I really didn't want to give him medicine, but since he puked in bed and didn't wake up, it scared me. And he's sleeping so much better now. Good luck!

It could be sinus drainage at night. Have you tried lifting the head of his bed? Just put a big book under the head of the mattress, you don't need a steep incline, just a little one to encourage the drainage. Good luck!


Could it be reflux? It could be stomach acids coming up into his throat when he is lying down for a long period of time. I would ask the doctor if that is a possibility and what the causes could be.
Postnasal drip can also cause coughing at night but I was told NOT to take benadryl to dry out the nose because it may lead to an infection if it is not an allergy.

My 2yr did that for a 1 or 2 nights before I cut her off from eating dairy late in the day. Wheat has the same effect and we are a non-dairy, non-wheat household, but with preschool snacks and grandma's liberal diet, I can only control so much. I now pack her snacks and insist she not eat the other stuff. The cough stopped immediately.


I have two children that have had/are going through this. The diagnosis for both was post nasal drip which tickles the back of their throat when they lay down. Like others have said, elevate the bed or pillow. My oldest had to go through about 2 years on Singulair to help with the allergies - she has no problems now. My son is more seasonal and we give him Zyrtec for the times he needs to be on it (night coughing that may last a few weeks). If it bothers him and wakes him up, we give Benedryl on top of that which is an okay mix. But, talk to your ped. - you might want to see an ENT to see if maybe a anatomical explanation like enlarged adenoids or other glands might be the cause of the post nasal drip. My Dr does not encourage long term humidifier usage because it promotes the growth of mold. I know this causes a lot of fitful night - good luck!

Hi D.,
Does the inhaler stop his coughing? If it relieves it, you may be looking at a diagnosis of asthma. My daughter has a history of asthma and that is her initial symptom...coughing at night. Usually we think of asthma as wheezing and can't breathe, but believe it or not, coughing is one of the main symptoms predomintatley at night. Unfortunatly, doctors are unable to give a final diagnosis of asthma until the age of 5 when kids can effectively cooperate with the tests to diagnose. Until that time the use the term Reactive Airway Disease or RAD. Please go back to your pediatritian and state your findings so that you can get the best treatment for your son. We found out with my daughter that the laundry, cleaning and personal care items that we were using( you know like on Target's shelves) were actually causing more asthma attacks. Once I switched store brands to more non-caustic formulas, she has done great. Please feel free to PM me if you have any more questions about your son's condition. I have been there and back with my daughter and love to help other mom's of kids with Asthma. Good luck!

Ask for a referral to a pediatric pulmonologist to rule out asthma. My daughter had the same symptoms, and with regular asthma medications we are all now sleeping through the night again.

I hope you both get some sleep soon!

Sounds like post nasal drip. I have the exact same problem right now from a head cold. My daughter suffers from it too due to allergies. Its also common for her to wake up and puke up a bunch of mucus that she'd swallowed all night long. It upsets the stomach for some reason.

My son is doing that too. It cooresponded EXACTLY with us turning the heat on. Keep on with your humidifier and minimize your heat. I bet it will help. Avoid the croup medication if you can b/c it's usually steroids. You only want to use it if you REALLY need it. (We've had croup 3 times!) Good luck!!!

Hello D.. My son also had the seal sounding cough and we tried everything too, but we finally found out that he has acid reflux. We went to a specialist and he started taking prevacid solutabs and his night cough went away in a less than two weeks. If he misses more than two days without his prevacid the cough comes back. The cough also gets worse if he drinks milk or eats ice cream. We now only drink soy milk and eat soy ice cream. This helps a lot! Good luck with everything. A.

My friends daughter has the same thing , she had croup a few weeks back but the cough is still going on and at night only , she has been back to the Dr and they said that there is nothing wrong it's just the cough is going to take a while to clear up. There are so many bugs/viruses doing the rounds at the moment with cough/sore throat symptoms that I think it is just one of those things and your son will get over it but it will take a bit longer. To try and help in the meantime you could try some of the suggestions you have been given , also you could try a humidifier in the room at night to try and stop it getting so dry and hope this helps with the cough.

My daughter had the same problem when she was smaller. It turned out to be bronchitis in relation to allergies (which are bad during certain times of the year). I began under her doctors advice giving her cough medicine at night to sooth her throat and to keep her from coughing as hard. It has worked to date and it calmed as she got older.

It may have several causes. The one most frequent in my house is allergies. At night you are still and so the mucus flows down the back of your throat, you may sleep with your mouth open for a variety of reasons. Allergy drops for the eyes before bedtime and a cool mist humidifier with some essential oils in the water may help. I have put eucalyptus oil, melaleuca oil, lavendar, vanilla, or a combination in to help relax the body and get a better sleep for everyone. Also cut back on dairy products and sugar, and try to increase water intake. I have also been knwon to give them some tea with honey, ther is one called throat coat that may help, just remember to steep it in half of the hot water for an adult and after 10minutes take out the bag and fill the rest of the cup with cold water. I have done this since my oldest, now 13, was about 18months. I generally try to avoid prescriptions if I can, but every now and then one is needed. Don't automatically reach for the drugs, the body knows what it needs to keep itself healthy. Realize when you need the drugs, especially when the problems interfere with sleep, when the bosy does most of it's work.

My daughter also has this and its because of nasal drip...it makes her cough and causes a lot of congestion in her chest (especially right after she's gotten over a cold). We saw a pulmonary specialist (thinking it was related to asthma) and he prescribed Nasonex. He said to use it whenever we start seeing a lot of gunk coming out of her nose and that usually helps...

Good luck!

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