Cold and Cough Medicine for Infants and Children Center

The safety of giving infants and children over-the-counter (OTC) cold and cough medicine is important for caregivers to understand. While there is no "gold standard" recommendation for giving infants and children OTC cold and cough medicine for fever, aches, cough, and runny nose, a few standards have been recommended.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that OTC cold and cough medicine only be used in children age four years and older.

The American College of Chest Physicians recommend that these medicines only be used in children age 15 years and older.

The FDA recommends that OTC cold and cough medicine be used in children 2 years of age and older.

However, there is agreement in regard to which OTC medications should not be used in children under the age of four (or the age of two, depending upon which guidelines are used), and they are 1) certain antihistamines like brompheniramine, chlorpheniramine maleate, and diphenhydramine (Benadryl); 2) cough expectorants (guaifenesin); 3) cough suppressants (dextromethorphan, DM); and 4) decongestants (pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine).

Aspirin should never be given to infants, children, and adolescents due to the possibility of a rare, but often severe and even fatal illness called Reye's syndrome.


FDA. "Most Young Children with a Cough or Cold Don't Need Medicines." July 18, 2017.

FDA. "Use Caution When Giving Cough and Cold Products to Kids." Updated: Nov 04, 2016.

Read more: Cold and Cough Medicine for Infants and Children Article


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Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/2/2020

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