Coughing is a common symptom which affects toddlers when accompanied with infections like the common cold virus. A cough by itself is not very serious unless it is accompanied with other serious problems such as wheezing, asthma, and bronchitis. Dry cough in toddlers can be treated with air humidification, avoiding exposure to cigarette smoke and other irritants, and the use of a decongestant or cough suppressant.
There is no cause for alarm as long as the child sleeps well through the night and...
...has no difficulty in breathing. You may have to consult a doctor when the toddler has a dry cough at night, coughs up phlegm, has difficulty breathing, or the cough has lasted for more than ten days.
Remember that coughing is an important defense mechanism that helps in keeping the lungs clear and also expels bacteria and other irritants from the respiratory tract. If a cough is suppressed, it can trigger serious infections such as pneumonia.
There are a few steps you can take to keep your child comfortable and to clear the dry cough during the night. It is best to offer plenty of liquids which will aid in loosening phlegm and expel dry hardened phlegm. Juices, warm or hot water, or clear soup will also soothe the throat. You can turn down the thermostat as cooler air will keep the air more humid. You can rub petroleum based balms on the chest and the back to soothe the toddler.
Try to avoid vaporizers as they cannot be cleaned really well and can become a breeding ground for bacteria and mould. If the cough has been caused due to an allergy you can use an antihistamine to help the toddler sleep better at night.
The other reasons that can trigger dry cough in a toddler could be allergic rhinitis or hay fever, when the cough is accompanied by a runny nose or itchy or watery eyes. Cough can change to dry cough when your toddler is exposed to cold and dry air. It can also be caused due to bronchitis, a viral infection, which can aggravate the cough and make breathing difficult for the child. Other causes include allergies, irritation due to pollution, croup, laryngitis, whooping cough, and upper respiratory tract infection.
Whatever the cause, consult a physician to help choose the right medicine for dry cough in toddlers. Try to avoid administering potent cough medicines to children less than one year of age as many of these medicines suppress the cough reflex in the brain stem and might also cause breathing problems