Dear Doctor,
Is raw honey a good remedy for a child who frequently gets night coughs? My 4-year-old daughter always coughs at night and it’s disrupting her sleep. I don’t want to give her cough medicines all the time so a friend suggested I try raw honey. Will it help?

Worried mum, Bangsar

Honey can be part of a supportive treatment when children are down with a cold. Credit:


When a child catches a cold, most parents will try to avoid giving cough mixture. Honey can be part of a supportive treatment. However, honey should never be given to children under a year old as they are at risk of infant botulism.

Botulism is the deadly food poisoning caused by Clostridium botulinum, a bacteria normally found in soil. Honey can be contaminated and can cause severe illness, particularly in children under a year old because they are not able to fight off this bacteria.

Other ways to help keep your child comfortable when she has a cold and trouble sleeping include the use of saline drops or nasal sprays to relieve blocked nose. Get a humidifier for the bedroom to keep the air moist and to help reduce cold symptoms. You can also prop up your child's head during sleep to stop the postnasal drip that triggers night time cough.

Most cases of cough and cold in children are caused by viral infections. Viral infections are very common among children and are usually self-limiting. Parents should bring their child to see the doctor if the child develops a high fever, prolonged cough, wheezing or cold symptoms lasting longer than two weeks as all these symptoms suggest the child may have a more severe infection and requires proper examination and treatment.

Children with symptoms lasting longer than two weeks must get a proper examination. Credit:

Answers provided by Answers provided by Dr Lim Kok Chong
consultant paediatrician, Columbia Asia Hospital — Bukit Rimau.

Do you have a question on parenting or concerns about your child’s health and wellness? Write to us at and our experienced paediatricians will respond to your queries. All questions must be accompanied by the sender’s full name and address.


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