Every cold and flu season many children come down with a head cold that results in a cough. Coughing can be uncomfortable and downright irritating if it’s strong and persistent or keeping everyone up at night.

When it comes to the ordinary cough, Western medicine doesn’t really have any great solutions that are both safe and effective. Yet, hearing your child cough night after night can be enough to tempt you to give them over-the-counter cough medicine.

To get you started, here are seven natural ways calm a cough your pediatrician won’t tell you about.

1. Pediatric Tuina Massage for Cough

In traditional Chinese medicine, we use ancient massage and acupressure techniques to treat cough not matter what type it is: wet, dry, hacking or croupy. Tuina massage techniques work by stimulating the body to heal itself. There are 6 main massage and acupressure techniques that can stop cough while also boosting the immune system. It only takes minutes to do, yet it can make a HUGE difference to speed recovery.

2. Honey & Lemons

Ok, you’re pediatrician might tell you about honey because it is officially recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for cough, but you don’t want any ordinary highly processed honey bear. What really works is raw, dark amber honey. Buckwheat honey has received the most research for cough, but you can use any dark amber raw honey like avocado or blackberry. Local dark honey is great, too. I use local raw Uvas Gold Apiary Honey for coughs in the winter and allergies in the spring.

WARNING: For children 12 months or younger do not give them honey.

3. Eliminate Dairy

Why give up dairy? It creates or adds to mucous production. Even if your child can normally tolerate dairy, take it out of their diet while they’re sick, especially if they have a wet phlegmy cough. It will lessen the phlegm and the burden of getting rid of it through coughing. NOTE: if your baby is breastfeeding or drinking cow’s milk formula as the main source of their calories, do not eliminate dairy.

4. Herbal Tea

Herbs like licorice root, mullein, sage leaves, wild cherry bark and slippery elm can be made into a tea with a little honey to calm a cough. If you’re in a rush or you don’t have these herbs on hand you should be able to pick up a tea called Just for Kids Throat Coat by Traditional Medicinals. Throat Coat has many of the herbs recommended above and it’s formulated with kid’s safety and tastes in mind. It’s usually available in grocery stores and it has a very pleasant taste for a medicinal tea. It’s not only good for cough but works for sore throats too.

5. Essential Oil Chest Rub

Essential oils can help break up chest and nasal congestion when used in a chest rub for children ages 10 and up. But if you’re like me you don’t want to use petrochemicals, like those contained in Vick’s Vapor Rub. Instead, you can mix essential oils in about organic olive oil and make your own herbal oil.

If you prefer a salve, then try this recipe from for a “vapor rub” or you can pick Gaia’s Warming Vaporous Rub, a safe pre-made chest rub, available at your local health food store. Essential oils should never be apply directly to the skin. In children younger than 10, please check the essential oils for safety.

6. Essential Oil Steam Bath

A warm steamy bath can also help a nighttime cough. Start a hot bath using the shower, close the bathroom door and let the room get steamy. Add a few drops of essential oils such as wild mountain sage or fir needle into the tub to soothe a cough and open up the chest.

7. Organic Poached Pears with Cinnamon

This is a personal favorite for dry, tickly coughs. Eat 1/2 to 1 pear before bed. It is so delicious and it feels great on a dry, scratchy throat.


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