The agency said such treatments were no longer safe for use in those under 18 years old.
The decision was made after an evidence review found the risks associated with cough medicines containing codeine outweigh the benefits in children and young people.
The advice will come into effect in 2011 when manufacturers will be expected to update packaging and leaflets. Until then, the medicine will continue to be sold as before.
As a result, all cough liquids containing codeine will be supplied in child-resistant containers from next year.
The MHRA said in its review: ‘It is clear that there is little evidence to support the use of codeine to relieve cough caused by the common cold in children.’
It goes on: ‘The safety data available on codeine-containing products suggests there are serious concerns which need to be taken into account when assessing the risk-benefit balance of these products.’