Important reminder as we fight the Winter bugs: Cold Medicines should never be given to children under 6 years of age.

The Australian TGA recommends cough and cold medicines should not be given to children under 6 years of age.

Cough and cold medicines should only be given to children aged 6 to 11 years on the advice of a doctor, pharmacist or nurse practitioner.

There is evidence that they may cause harm to children, while the benefits of using them in children have not been proven.

It is always best to consult your doctor rather than seek quick over the counter fixes. Sometimes a cough may be caused by a bacterial infection in the throat or chest; antibiotics may be prescribed by your doctor to treat a bacterial infection.

Cough Medicines May Not Help

RCH in Melbourne says, “Children older than six years old should only take cough medicines on the advice of a health professional.  However, there is no scientific evidence that cough medicines will be helpful.”

  • A child under 6 years of age may appear to have a cold but actually be suffering from a more serious illness (for example: influenza, asthma, bronchitis or allergic rhinitis), which may require medical attention and treatment.
  • Cough and cold medicines offer only temporary relief of common symptoms, such as runny nose, cough, nasal congestion, fever and aches. They do not affect the severity of the viral infection or shorten the time the infection lasts.
  • Overdose of these medicines can lead to serious harm.

A Cough is a very common problem for children. The most common cause of cough is a respiratory tract infection, such as a cold.

Young children usually have six to 12 respiratory tract infections per year, usually caused by viruses.

Antibiotics don’t help with this sort of cough. Sometimes, children may cough for many weeks after a viral infection; they call this a post-viral cough and, again, antibiotics are usually no help.

Read more: A reminder to parents that Codeine is not safe for kids. In Australia this includes Painstop medication.

What Are The Natural Alternatives?

There is some recent evidence that honey may reduce the severity and duration of a cough.

In children more than one year of age, one to two teaspoons of honey taken 30 minutes prior to bedtime may be helpful. Honey should be avoided in children less than 12 months old because there may be a risk of a rare condition called botulism, which causes muscle weakness.

  • rest
  • drink plenty of fluids
  • inhale steam (under adult supervision) to help relieve a blocked nose­-a shower in a closed room is an effective method
  • analgesics, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, can be used to help reduce pain and fever
  • saline nose drops can be used to help relieve a blocked nose

What’s that about an onion?

There is an old wives tale of putting a cut up onion under your child’s bed. It sounds crazy but we do this everytime our children have coughs and it really does seem to work.

When should I bring my child back to the doctor/hospital?

Return to your doctor/hospital if your child becomes unwell (eg high fever with poor feeding/drinking, decreased wet nappies, difficulty breathing).

What should I do if the cough persists for many weeks?

If you are concerned, your local doctor can refer you to a paediatrician (specialist children’s doctor). Some post-viral coughs may be present for many weeks (eg after bronchiolitis). Be guided by your doctor’s advice or ask for a referral to a paediatrician.

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  • Great advice and Vicks Vapor Rub to the fore again.


  • In another article in this site they recommend not giving panadol to a baby as it can cause asthma.
    No other suggestions were given. Seems we have to be guided by whatever professional advice were are given and hope it is correct.
    A baby or toddler with a high temperature can have Febrile convulsions is not treated correctly.


  • A vaporiser in the room works marvels.


  • vicks on the soles of the feet with socks over the top… always works well for me


  • i try natural methods like steaming and just try to let my child ride it out. tv, treats and snuggles helps them to feel better plus lots of rest. I don’t like giving my kids medication and this cold season, they have had one just about every week! this would be such an overload on their bodies for medicating them


  • If a young baby has a cold or cough that lasts longer than it should request an xray. A friend of mine requested one after her baby daughter had two bad colds close together. She was checked by a Dr. for the first one because she coughed so mucvh she started vommiting. The xray revealed that she had pneumonia the first time.


  • Not a huge fan of them, have never really helped me in the past. Chicken soup on the other hand…..


  • Thanks for the information and advice on cough and cold medicines.


  • The crackdown needs to include chemists who sell this medicine to parents.


  • I hate it when my girls get coughs – my oldest gets allergy coughs from dust mites and will sometimes be up all night coughing, the little one got croup for a couple of years and it’s just so heartbreaking to not be able to make it go away for them – I don’t understand why these products if they are known not to have any effect are even allowed to be sold – it’s just companies blatantly ripping consumers off!


  • I don’t believe they work anyway so never use them.


  • Also always consult your doctor before giving medication.


  • So important to repeat these recommendations, because too many people still don’t follow them. :-(


  • This is a timely reminder – these guidelines only came in a few yers ago.


  • Isn’t it terrible that these companies can sell products aimed at children yet it’s medically not recommended. I always thought cough and cold medicine was to make mum and dad feel better so they were doing something to help their sick child.


  • Not to mention good old eukibear or vicks to help keep the nostrils clear


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