Best Cough Medicines for Kids & Toddlers in 2019

It’s getting close to parents least favorite season: flu season. We know how awful being sick can be. We also know that watching your child suffer through symptoms can make even the most equipped and grounded parents feel helpless and frustrated. For new parents especially it is hard knowing if it is something that can be treated at home or is it soemthing that requires a visit to the doctor? Is this over-the-counter medication actually going to alleviate symptoms and what are all of the ingredients in it? What is the responsible maximum number of popsicles for my child to be able to consume each day and why do they only like two of the five flavors in any box that we buy?

Last Updated:
By Lyndsey Fosher:

For this update we added more information about cough syrups. Most of the items on our list are made of all natural ingreidents and are 100% safe for your child to take. We also updated this guide to our new layout.

Our Top 3 Picks

Mucinex Multi-Symptom
  • Mucinex Multi-Symptom
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Ages 4+
  • Price: See Here
Sambucus Elderberry
  • Sambucus Elderberry
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Elderberry Infused
  • Price: See Here
Zarbees Naturals
  • Zarbees Naturals
  • 4.3 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Dark Honey
  • Price: See Here


Criteria Used In Evaluation of the Best Cough Medicines for Kids & Toddlers

No parents want to see their child suffer or pump them with unnecessary medication that might affect or cause damage to their health. Our bodies learn to build natural immunities but not every cold, flu bout or infection can be willed away through sleep and Disney marathons. Even if this is your child’s best cure, it’s a miserable process trying to recover.

Of all the contenders of different kinds of sickness that are out there: the cough is among the worst. It can keep your children up at night making it especially hard for them to rest and heal. They spray germs everywhere when they don’t cover their mouths. It runs their throat raw if it gets too intense. Luckily, there are plenty of kid-friendly cough medicines on the market to help ease symptoms and make the process of getting better a little bit more bearable. We’ve collected the highest-rated products on the market for you and your family. Just add a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down. (Please don’t though. Sugar is debatably an enemy of the immune system)

There are several things we considered when choosing the 10 best cough medicines for kids and toddlers in 2019. They include the following.

When looking for the best children’s cough medicines, we wanted to find ones that were all-natural. Although some of these on our list are not all-natural, they are safe for children at least 12 and older. However, some on this list can be used for children under the age of 12.

Works Day and Night

Most of these cough syrups are perfect for either day or night time. Some of them work better at night because they help suppress your child’s cough or can soothe the pain your child might be feeling from gaining a new tooth. Some of these also work during the day without any disruptions from a bad cough. The ones that work at night can also help your child sleep better, so that they’ll be able to go along their day without any kind of disruption from not getting enough sleep the night before. We all need our beauty rest and when it comes to any kind of sickness: sleep is a good way of recovering.

Tastes Great

Taste is a big one that we considered when coming up with our list. We know how hard it can be for parents to try and get their child to take medicine especially if it’s one that doesn’t taste good. Most of these kids’ cough medicines have great-tasting flavors including honey, berry, grape and several others. Although this isn’t the most appealing aspect of a cough medicine, it is important because for children because the only way you will get them to take any kind of medicine is if it tastes good. If the flavor is bad, get ready for a battle.

Works Well

Another factor we took into consideration was how well the cough medicine worked for your child. We wanted to make sure that it can in fact reduce or get rid of a cough altogether for them and make them feel 100 percent better. This is why we chose these specific cough medicines for your children since they all work well to help with many of the symptoms of a cold, teething, cough, and even the flu. Your child will be back to their healthy self in no time.

How We Chose the Amazing Kiddie Cough Medications on Our List

Before we reveal to you how we chose the cough medicines for kids on this list, we would like to reiterate that even over-the-counter medications can be particularly addicting because of certain components that are included in the formulation of these drugs. That’s why it is imperative that you follow the recommended dosage instructions. And if you are not sure just how much is right for your child, your doctor can provide you with a more concrete explanation as to what you need to do.

This is the basis of our selection. We have to make sure that these drugs are safe for children and that these do not pose significant threats to their overall health and wellness. It was essential for us to choose formulations with a relatively safe profile when used among kids. Even if it contains natural ingredients, the safety profile of these ingredients was carefully evaluated. It doesn’t necessarily mean that just because it’s all-natural, it is already safe. Even naturally occurring substances can have an effect on our body. What more if ingested or consumed by children whose body organs are not as efficient as those found in adults?

We looked into the customer rating of each of these products and decided to include only those with no less than 4.5 stars. It is our understanding that many consumers often base their decisions on existing product ratings. The more popular the product is, the greater is the likelihood that other consumers will buy. Of course, we did not let the ratings totally dictate the outcome of this search as we also had to consider the responses or experiences of moms and dads everywhere.

Choosing the Right Cough Medications for Your Kids

Before you start buying over-the-counter children’s cough remedies, it is important to understand what coughing really is. Many individuals have this idea that a cough is a disease or a health condition. Not many realize that coughing is a very normal process of our body to get rid of something that is irritating the airways. Our airways are very sterile environments. If there are irritants in the airways, the cough reflex is activated in an effort to move this irritant out of the airways. It is for this reason that many doctors do not recommend the use of cough suppressants for kids as this inherently suppresses the cough reflex. It is preventing your body from eliminating the irritant that is causing the cough.

Unfortunately, many individuals think that the best management for coughing is by taking medicines. In case you’re wondering what your options are, here are some of the most common types of cough medications.

  • Mucolytics – As the term implies, these effectively break up the bonds of the mucus plugs making them a lot easier for expectoration. Examples are acetylcysteine and bromhexine. Take note, bromhexine should never be given to kids who are younger than 6 years old.
  • Expectorants – These works almost in the same manner as mucolytics. However, the mechanism of action is on increasing the hydration of the mucus plugs, making these a lot more liquid so they are easily expectorated. Examples are guaifenesin, sodium citrate, and ammonium chloride.
  • Demulcents – These are airway protectants or surface coaters wherein they provide a protective layer on the pharynx or the throat. This minimizes the irritation of the airways leading to a decrease in coughing. Examples are glycerol and sugar. These can be safely given to kids.
  • Suppressants – These should never be used on kids because they cause drowsiness, constipation, nausea, and vomiting. Additionally, like we already said, you are essentially preventing your child’s body from getting rid of the irritant in his or her airways. Examples are codeine and dextromethorphan.
The Bottom Line

While we do understand the concern you may have if your child has cough and cold, it is better to seek medical advice rather than risking your kid’s overall health. If you do insist on giving your child a cough medicine, then choose any of our 10 cough medicines for kids. At least you’ll feel more confident about giving these to your precious one.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does Zarbee’s Naturals Children’s Cough Syrup contain melatonin?

A: The Zarbee’s daytime cough syrup for kids does not contain melatonin as an ingredient but the nighttime version does.

Q: What is the youngest age that can take Nature’s Way Sambucus for Kids Bioavailable Elderberry?

A: This cough medicine for children is not recommended for children under 1 year old.

Q: Is Hyland’s 4 Kids Cold and Cough Day and Night Value Pack a homeopathic substitute for Mucinex for Children?

A: Although this should not be compared to Mucinex, it does contain all-natural ingredients so it is safe for children and adults as well. However, it is only intended to relieve cold and flu symptoms temporarily until you can get your child to a doctor.

Q: Are these different cough medicines for kids good to use at least until I take my child to their doctor for a prescription medication?

A: Yes, many of these, if not all of them, work for the temporary relief of cold and flu symptoms at least until you take your child to the doctor.

Q: Are these cough medicines for children affordable?

A: Yes, many of them are inexpensive. You can actually find them cheaper online than in your drugstore. However, you will have to wait for it to be shipped to you unless you find a store you can order online and pick up yourself.


  1. WebMD, Kids' Cold Medicines: Guidelines, Informative Article,
  2. Mayo Clinic Staff, Cold medicines for kids: What's the risk?, Informative Article,
  3. Emily Kaufman, Is your little one sick? These home remedies will quiet your child's cough in no time, Online Article,
  4. Author Unknown, When to Give Kids Medicine for Coughs and Colds, Consumer Health Report,