Doctor can evaluate. A one year-old with a "bad cough" should be seen by his primary care doctor. Common colds usually cause a mild cough, not a "bad cough". A bad cough can be bronchiolitis (due to RSV virus), asthma symptoms, croup (due to viral infection of the voicebox area), bronchitis (due to bacterial or viral infection), pneumonia, or an accidentally swallowed toy or object. A doctor can start treatment.
Call your pediatrici. Dr. Kwok's answer is fairly complete. If this is a recurrent condition it might be a for of hyperactive airway disease and might respond to previous treatments. If it is associated with fever it probably is some form of respiratory infection. Night time coughs are more likely to be hyperactive airway disease (asthma), croup or postnasal drip. Call your pediatrician for the correct approach.
Viral or not? There are several things you should look for. Most coughs in children are related to viruses (colds) - but certainly if he or she has a fever that may indicate a need for antibiotics and it would be a good idea to get him checked out. If he is eating well and not acting fussy, those are indications that it's likely viral and will get better on its own. Viral coughs can last between 7 and 14 days.
Most likely a " cold. If this is a respiratory illness in a one-year old, the best thing to do is give lots of fluids to drink and no medicines if there is no temperature above 101 degrees. If the cough gets worse over the next few days, call your pediatrician.
Toddler Coughing. Usual etiology is bacterial, viral or allergies. I do not recommend any otc cough or cold meds for children under 7 years of age. Have you noticed any connection to activity, food ingestion, diet or the environment. I would proceed slowly and methodically to assess the cause if no one else is sick at home. Rub some Vicks on the child's chest. No honey under 2 years of age, nix (permethrin) botulism.
Honey. The feeling today is to avoid alot of the medications that in the past were used in infants. Honey can be used to soothe the throat in babies over 6 months. If there is bronchospasm then it might help to use a bronchodilator such as albuteral. If the baby is having more distress then a sh0rt course of oral steroids may be indicated. Read more...