What to consider when choosing cough products for kids

There is nothing worse than hearing your little one coughing their heart out and all the family suffers if they are awake coughing through the night. These days there are many cough product options for kids, so how do you choose what is best for your child?  Here are some ideas to help you with the selection process.

  1. Taste
    This is number one since most cough formulas tend to be liquids. If children don’t like the taste then they are not going to take it or you are going to have a fight on your hands two or three times a day.
  2. Sugar and additives
    This is a big one as many cough products contain sugar to make them taste good for kids. There are plenty of natural sugar options around that can help sweeten the formula.  Also as some kids react to artificial colours you might want to avoid these too.  These are often shown on the side with an E number next to them.
  3. Herb Quality
    Many of the natural cough medicines these days make use of plants and herbs in their formulas. Herbs have been used for centuries with great effective to help with coughs and colds, but all herbal formulas are not the same.  The way a herb works is due to its active constituents; the natural chemicals in the plant that have a mode of action within the body.  Different parts of the plant contain different chemicals, so herbal extracts can vary depending on which part of the plant has been used, where it has been grown etc.  To guarantee quality look for standardisation.  This is used to show the level of active ingredients in a product.  You can see this shown next to the herb name on the label e.g. extract (5-7.5:1) or [standardised to not less than schizandrol A 2.8mg]
  4. What age are they safe from?
    As parents we are very cautious over the safety of products for our children. Make sure you check the age range the cough mixture is safe from.  The difficult category is the under two year olds, especially babies.
  5. Efficacy
    If you really want to check up on products, that they do what they say, how they work and that they are safe, then there should be clinical research available to back up the product. Ask at the health store or pharmacy if studies are available on the product that demonstrates its efficacy and safety.
  6. Easy to dispense formats
    It is not always easy to give children supplements or medications; dripping bottles and spillage from spoons can be messy. Look for easy to measure and dispense formats.  Also if you are out and about you might want a product that you can pop in your bag, ready to use with kids on the run.

Written by Jane Cronin Clinicians Naturopath.  Jane is part of the Technical Support team who are available to help you with your health questions and issues and advice of supplements.  http://www.clinicians.co.nz/

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