A senior doctor has urged parents not to give kids cough and cold medicines or syrups but use honey and lemon instead.

Dr Oliver Bevington warned over-the-counter treatments may not work and the ingredients could have side-effects or be toxic in large doses.He also said many included paracetamol which could lead to parents unintentionally overdosing their children.

Dr Bevington, chairman of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health’s trainees’ committee, said: “There is absolutely no evidence that cough medicines work as there has been very little research with regards to their use.

“And, potentially, they could actually do the children more harm than good.” He added that parents should stick to “old-fashioned honey and lemon, rest, lots of fluids and paracetamol and/or ibuprofen as per the pack instructions”.

But the Proprietary Association of Great Britain, representing manufacturers of over-the-counter medicines, said many cough products were suitable for kids and reduced symptoms.