Home Remedies for Colds in Babies

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Natural Cold Remedies for Babies

Most children will experience their first cold during their first year of life. It’s never easy as a parent to see your child not feeling well. 

Sometimes parents feel helpless when their child is sick. You just want to make them feel all better! 

With these tips, you can be sure that you’re doing what you can to help ease your child’s symptoms to that they can get back to their happy, playful self quickly. 

What is a cold? 

A cold, also called the common cold, is a virus that is transmitted from one person to another. Since it is viral, it is self-limiting, and cannot be treated with antibiotics. 

Symptoms of Colds in Babies and Toddlers

Babies and toddlers suffer from many of the same cold symptoms that we get as adults. 

The most common symptoms that parents bring their children in for are fever, cough, congestion, and runny nose. 

You can read all about fevers, and the best way to treat them, here

Home Remedies for colds in babies

In this post I’ll focus on natural cold remedies that you can do from home to help treat your child’s cold symptoms, focusing on cough, congestion, and runny noses. 

These remedies will not necessarily shorten the duration of a cold. However, they will make your baby more comfortable and/or help their immune system fight the cold. 

It is important to note that some home remedies for colds in children should not be used until the baby is at least 12 months of age. I’ll note which remedies those are. 

natural home remedies for baby cold

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Natural Remedies for Cough, Congestion, and Runny Nose in Babies

Humidifier

Humidifiers add moisture to the air in the room. This air is then breathed into the respiratory tract. The moist air can help to ease cough and congestion. 

Ultrasonic humidifiers, like this one, are found to be superior to regular cool-mist and warm-mist humidifiers. 

When using a humidifier it is important to always use distilled or purified water. Additionally, the humidifier must be emptied and dried daily to keep it clean. 

Steamy Bathroom

One of the easiest treatments for cough and congestion is sitting in a steamy bathroom. The moist warm air enters the respiratory tract. This moist warm air can help decrease swollen nasal passages and thin secretions. 

It is important that you do not take your child into the shower. As that puts them at risk for being burned. 

One of the best ways to benefit from a steamy bathroom is to turn the shower on hot in a closed bathroom, to allow the steam to build. Then the parent can sit on the floor outside the shower with their child on their lap, so the child can breathe in the moist warm air. 

Nasal Suction

Babies are usually not developmentally ready to blow their noses until closer to age 2. Therefore, it may become necessary to suction their nose when they have a cold.

To effectively suction your baby’s nose, you will need to use either a bulb syringe, like this one that I prefer or this “snot sucker”. 

Nasal suction can either be used on its own or with saline spray. If secretions are thick, saline spray can help to loosen any thick secretions. Once secretions are thinned they are easier to suction.

Saline Spray

Saline spray is used to thin secretions. The spray is squirted into your child’s nose while they lay on their back. Once the spray is in, nasal suction is used to remove the now thin loosened secretions.

I prefer this spray over others since it has fewer additional ingredients.

Salt Room

Salt rooms, or halotherapy, has been proven to be beneficial for our bodies. This article highlights three studies that show how individuals can benefit from visiting salt rooms.

There are many salt rooms that can accommodate babies and toddlers. If your child is old enough to be playing with toys, you may want to look for a salt room that has a specialized children’s playroom. 

Increased Liquids

It is common for children to have a decreased appetite when they are sick. However, it is important that they stay hydrated. There are a variety of ways to keep them hydrated, other than offering water. 

Breastmilk

If you are nursing your baby then offer them breastmilk frequently. Your breasts have receptors that receive signals to produce immunities against the virus your baby is fighting. Aside from this, the foremilk of breastmilk will hydrate your baby while the hindmilk will provide fat and essential nutrition. 

If your baby does not want to nurse, which is common when they have a stuffy nose, then you can make breastmilk popsicles or breastmilk ice cubes. You can offer the breastmilk ice cubes in this silicone feeder

Homemade Broth

If your child is over the age of 6 months you can offer them broth. 

A broth made from vegetables such as carrots, celery, onion, and garlic will provide nutrition and comfort to your child. The warm broth is often soothing. 

Broth can be offered in either a cup or by spoon. 

Frozen Electrolyte Water

If your baby is 6 months or older you can offer electrolyte water.

Electrolyte water is purified water with electrolytes added. The electrolytes provide necessary minerals that the body may lose, especially during fever. This helps the body rehydrate.  

Frozen Fruit Juice

If your child is older than 6 months, does not breastfeed, and is refusing water, then try freezing 100% pure fruit juice and giving it to them in a silicone feeder. 

You will want to use a juice that does not have any added sugars, as fruit juice already contains a lot of natural sugar. 


I like to suggest mixing the fruit juice with electrolyte water and making homemade popsicles. 

Most children are willing to lick or chew on homemade frozen popsicles, which helps to keep them hydrated. 

Rest

Sleep is extremely important for the body’s immune system to remain strong. 

This article discusses why sleep is so important and gives tips to help relax your child, so they can have a restful night’s sleep. 

When your baby is sick, you’ll want to encourage plenty of napping, in addition to a good night’s rest. 

Chest Rub

If your baby is 3 months or older, you can use a chest rub on them.

Chest rubs are ointments that contain ingredients that are proven to help relieve congestion. 

Traditional chest rubs are full of toxic ingredients that you do not want on your baby’s skin or to be inhaled by your baby.  

Instead, this chest rub is made with safer ingredients. 

Chest rubs can be applied nightly, before bedtime, onto the chest. Your baby will then be able to inhale the essential oils, which will help to clear their congestion so that they may breathe easier during sleep. 

Essential Oils

Essential oils can be used to help ease symptoms of colds in babies. This article provides more information about essential oils. 

This essential oil company has a line of oil blends that are made specifically for children. 

One of my favorite blends is this one, that helps with stuffy noses. These essential oil blends can be intermittently diffused, throughout the day and night, using a diffuser.

Elderberry Syrup

If your baby is over 12 months of age you can give them Elderberry syrup. If your child is under 12 months of age, you will need to find an Elderberry syrup that is safe for infants 6-12 months old.

Elderberry syrup is traditionally made from fresh or dried elderberries, raw honey, and spices (often cinnamon, ginger, and clove). The berry of the elderberry plant is full of antioxidants and vitamins that may provide your immune system with a boost. The berries are toxic if consumed raw, which is why the preferred way to get these benefits is in the form of syrup. 

You can purchase elderberry syrup such as this, find fresh local elderberry syrup, or make your own. It’s easy to make yourself. I use these organic dried elderberries and this cheesecloth. There are many recipes online and you can tweak them to your liking. 

Infants under the age of 12 months can take Elderberry syrup as long as it uses an alternative to honey as a sweetener. 

Honey

If your child is at least 1 year old, you can offer them raw honey to help their symptoms.

Raw honey has been being used for centuries to treat cough and colds. Research shows that raw honey is full of antioxidants. It has also been proven to kill both unwanted bacteria and fungus. Additionally, there is evidence suggesting that raw honey has antiviral properties as well.

Raw honey can be given by the teaspoonful to help soothe an irritated throat and minimize coughing. 

It can also be mixed in a warm (child safe) herbal tea. 

Regular honey that you find in the grocery store has gone through a pasteurization process that destroys many of the beneficial nutrients. If you are unable to find local raw honey, this raw honey is a great alternative.  

Remedies for Cold in Babies

Though this list is not exhaustive, it is full of many remedies that you can try at home to help your baby feel better when they have a cold.

Write me a comment and let me know which remedies you like the best. If you have a favorite remedy that I missed, I would love to hear about it!

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Brooke has been helping families as a board-certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, since 2007. Prior to that, she spent 4+ years working as a Registered Nurse in both pediatric and postpartum nursing. Brooke holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master of Science in Nursing. Additionally, she is dual-licensed in her state as both an APRN and RN.

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