Cold Medicine Recommendations for a 3-Year-old?

Updated on April 21, 2011
H.M. asks from Columbia, MO
12 answers

Hi Mamas,
I am so fortunate that my 3-year-old hasn't really had a cold until now, but because of that, I have no idea what to do with her! She has a persistent cough, sneeze and runny nose. No fever though and her energy is good otherwise. This is the fourth day of it. She's not sleeping well because the cough is keeping her awake. I've been giving her honey, using Vicks Vapo Rub and have a humidifier going in her room, but it's just not helping.

Now that she's three, is it ok to give her cough medicine? Cough drops? Do you have ones that you recommend? Generally, I try natural remedies with all of us, but I know as well as anyone that sometimes you just need something to knock you out so you can sleep. Or at least something to turn off the cough so you can function.

What are your thoughts and experiences?

Thanks for your help!

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all your responses. I called the pediatrician this morning and the nurse told me that cough medicine and cough drops aren't recommended for kiddos under the age of 6. She suggested we get her on Kid's Claritin and see if that'll help. In the meantime, I'll continue with the honey and the vaporizer! Thanks again!

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answers from Pittsfield on

If she has a cough, call her Pedi- I think all the meds you can buy are for 4 and up, but either they will prescribe something or tell you the proper dosage for one of the OTC meds.
Hope she feels better soon!! :)

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answers from St. Louis on

I have a 4 year old and a 2 year old and for some time now we have been giving either children's Benadryl or Zyrtec depending on what seems to be going on with their cough/cold/running nose. As long as Benadryl doesn't have the "hyper effect" on your child vs. the "sleepy effect" it should help them sleep, but the main thing I give it for is that is should dry them up a little bit. Preventing some of that post nasal drip, which causes the constant cough. When my older son's cough didn't go away for months and months we started Zyrtec and treated it more like long term allergies. It seems to work to, but it is not an instant relief medicine. It takes a little while for it to build up in their systems and start working the way it should. Both have worked great for us depending on our needs. Call your pediatrician for doeses if the back of the bottle doesn't include your child's age or weight. If I remember correctly we were given "permission" from our doctor to give the Benadryl as early as 8 months??? I think.

Good Luck. We deal with a lot of snotty noses around here!

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answers from Boston on

I think the newest recommendations are that kids not use these products. They cause more harm than good. The best thing to do is to strengthen your child's immune system so these illnesses are a thing of the past, or at least extremely mild and infrequent. She may have bronchitis if the cough is worse at night. If the cough is in her throat, the honey may soothe it, but if it's deeper and in her chest, honey won't do anything. I'd have the pediatrician listen to her chest and see what's going on. We use a comprehensive liquid supplement that has eliminated colds in our family - I also had chronic bronchitis for years and now I never get it. You can also elevate the head of her bed - put some blankets under the mattress so she sleeps on an angle - that sometimes helps.

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answers from St. Louis on

My thoughts and experiences:

Natural remedies are only as good as the company that produces them. I have tried many that simply do not produce results. But the cold medications are far worse option in my opinion. Read the labels sometime and see what kind of chemicals they use. I have been fortunate to learn about essential oils and found a company that produces top quality oils. I use them for every ailment now and they work wonderfully and best of all naturally- strengthening the body instead of adding toxins. For colds, I rub a eucalyptus oil blend on the bottoms of the feet, chest and neck and also diffuse into the air. My daughter just began getting a stuffy nose the other day and it is already going away. The cough never developed. I highly recommend this route for treating illnesses. You will find it invaluable for years to come. Go to the website: ( These oils can only be bought online) If you want to buy you will need a referral. My member number is: 977496. Follow the instructions to sign up, or call them for help. Also, there is a website : This site allows you to search for testimonials from people that have tried differents essential oils for different problems. It is a great way to see what might work. Then you can choose what oils you need. ( FYI, the oils they sell at the health food stores do not work, I have tried them too. )

This is my best advice. I have raised two kids and still raising my third. It is a wonderful thing when you find a way to help them naturally and strengthen their immune system for life. Email me if you need any info or help from me. [email protected]

Good luck to you!

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answers from Austin on

Being that there's a cough, get her checked....bigger things can start with cold symptoms and cough's are often telling of more concerning illnesses.

We use alternative therapies as much as possible and for colds/allergies typically-vapo rub on the feet and chest, honey cough syrup, homemade chicken soup, lots of cold liquids like lemonade and water and lots of rest. To help with sleep, usually turn to children's Motrin...though I don't like giving it, it works quickly and well and lasts long to help them sleep!

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answers from New York on

The best thing to do is take her to her ped. She may need an antibiotics that cannot be bought over the counter.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I would say just call the peds office. Our son had a persistent cough and they recommended Delsym. Most over the counter says not to start until 4 or older but your pediatrician can help direct you to a possible treatment. Colds just take time and it will pass but after 4 days I think I would take her in just to get checked out.

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answers from Omaha on

When my daughter catches a cold, she loves to drink Sleepy Time tea with honey mixed in. Seems to calm the cough and help her sleep better.

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answers from Richmond on

How much does she weigh? My son is 15 months but because he's such a fatty I can give him most childrens medicine. Ask your pediatrician or a pharmacist... the pharmacist will tell you to call the doctor but tell them how much she weighs, and tell them you're not leaving without something ;) Having worked in a pharmacy, they want to watch their butts and won't recommend something if a kids under 'x' age, but ask them what they would give THEIR 3 year old who weighs 'x' pounds... you'll get an answer :)

Also, they make childrens Delsym now, which is by far the best cough medicine out there. I only give it to my kids at night when they're coughing their brains out. Don't get generic; this is the ONLY generic brand that doesn't work 1/2 as well as name brand. I'm not big on giving kids meds either, but sometime's you've got to do what you've got to do. Hope she feels better soon!!

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answers from St. Louis on

I don't think you are suppose to give OTC meds until after age 4.
When my kids were younger--many years ago- we gave them Triaminic. They don't do that any more and I think it a pain because often the cold goes into ear infections ect. Good luck.



answers from St. Louis on

The best thing you can do is go by your pediatrician's recommendation. Ours recommends Mucinex, but some of my friends' peds recommend other brands, and some recommend no medication at all. I'm glad mine is okay with giving has really helped my little guys when they have colds!



answers from Boston on

Are you sure it's not allergies? My kids cough all night with allergies (post nasal drip) cold meds are not recommended for children under 4 because of deaths of young kids. It might be worth a trip or phone call into the doctor. They will be able to tell you what you can give and the correct dosage.
Plain old honey will help with a cough.

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