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5 Things Friday: 5 home remedies for kids with a cough

Parents know how difficult and exhausting life can be when one of your kids has a cough. Not only are they not sleeping well, but you aren't sleeping well, either.

And if your child is under 5 years old, cough medicine is generally not advised, not to mention that a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel says cold medicines are not even effective in young children. Drug makers also stopped marketing cold and cough medicines for use in children under 2 because of potentially dangerous side effects.

While coughing up mucus serves an important purpose by protecting the lungs from pneumonia, there are things parents can do to reduce the tickle in the throat that triggers a dry cough.

Here are five home remedies for coughs that accompany the common cold:

1. Honey

Honey cannot be given to infants under 12 months old due to botulism risks, but for older children and babies who have reached their first birthday, half to 1 teaspoon of honey as needed can thin mucus secretions and loosen a cough.

2. Warm apple juice

A nurse once advised me to give my young daughter warm apple juice to help with her cough. It works, and we've been using the remedy for years. It's comforting, helps her get the fluids she needs and warm, clear fluids like water and apple juice relax the airway, thin nasal secretions and loosen phlegm.

3. Elevate the bed

This is another useful tip the same nurse gave me.

It won't work for babies who move all around while sleeping, but for toddlers and older babies who tend to sleep with their head in the same direction, elevate the head of the bed by putting a pillow or folded blanket under that part of the mattress.

The slight incline causes blood to flow away from the head and reduces inflammation of the air passages.

However, don't just prop up your child's head because bending the neck in an unnatural position can make it harder to breathe

4. Moisten the air

Dry air makes a cough worse, so use a cool-mist humidifier in the child's bedroom and steam up the bathroom by turning on the hot water in a shower and letting the child breathe the warm steam for 10 to 15 minutes to help relieve congestion.

5. Saline nasal wash

A saline nasal wash or spray helps relieve a stuffy nose, and it can be used in infants, who can't blow their noses.

Source: Seattle Children's Hospital and Research Foundation, WebMD