The home remedy for kids’ coughs

Research shows that for children under the age of 2, cough remedies sold at pharmacies and supermarkets don’t do any good. But a study at the Penn State College of Medicine identifies a safe home remedy parents should try.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned parents not to give kids under the age of 2 over-the-counter cough and cold medications. These products may be unsafe for young children and they have not been shown to be effective for them, either. In 2008, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association reported that the labels on most OTC cough and cold remedy products say they shouldn’t be given to children under 4 years old.

The Penn study, however, found that there is something parents can give their coughing young children: agave nectar or a grape-flavored drink. These act as placebos that make kids feel better.

“Pediatricians typically tell parents, ‘Don’t give your child anything,’ or at most give them acetaminophen or ibuprofen,” says researcher Ian Paul, professor of pediatrics. “We know sick children are miserable and can’t sleep, and parents are frustrated that they can’t do anything to help.”

In 2007, Paul and other researchers found that honey was better than placebo for children’s coughs. But honey is not safe to give to children under the age of 1. In kids that young, it can lead to infantile botulism.

Instead, the researchers say, children at that age can be given agave syrup or a grape drink.

“We found that placebo was better than doing nothing,” said Paul. “For kids under age one, for which there is no other option, the findings may be particularly important.”



Carl Lowe

By Carl Lowe

has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.