Baby colds and cough are often times not just a little discomfort. The coughing can irritate your baby’s ears, making them quite miserable to deal with. So to help your baby get through those tough times, here are some old fashioned home remedies that can help ease the suffering of babies. When it comes to colds and coughs, babies are extra sensitive. Without the right medication, they can suffer more than other children. That’s why we’ve brought together a collection of home remedies for baby that can help soothe their sore throats, loosen congestion and help them get back to normal as fast as possible.
When it comes to a cough, there are two kinds:
A wet cough is the existence of phlegm in the throat and nasal area. A dry cough, on the other hand, is marked by the absence of phlegm. The remedies for both sometimes differ. It is necessary to diagnose the cold and cough before providing a remedy for it.
A person does not catch a cold or cough through food items, nor does cold weather create infections in babies, although it does provide a good breeding environment for germs. Children can be infected when they come into contact with germs that spread through the air when someone coughs or sneezes, or when they come into direct contact with an infected person. So, the first and foremost thing to do is to maintain hygiene and sanitise your child’s hands regularly.
In spite of taking precautions, if your child does catch a cold and cough, the following are some effective remedies you can try to offer him relief.
Note: As children grow, their immune system, digestive system and respiratory system also develop. Therefore, remedies meant for a newborn will not suffice for a one-year-old. However, some remedies aren’t restricted to any specific age bracket and can be tried for a person of any age, be it for a young baby or a fully-grown adult.
Home Remedies Suitable for Newborn Babies
1. Breast Milk
There is no remedy or cure that is greater than the only natural food for a newborn human – the breast milk. It works as a remedy for any infections in babies who are six months of age or even older. Regular feeds also help calm a cranky baby who does not understand anything and gains comfort only from his mother’s touch.
2. Homemade Nasal Drops
This is very good for babies who have a blocked nose. Your paediatrician can prescribe locally available over-the-counter nasal drops. But you could also make saline drops at home, in case of an emergency. Using a sterilised spoon, mix ½ tsp salt and 8 tsp of warm filtered water in a sterilised bowl.
NOTE: Keep the baby’s head tilted as you drop the prescribed amount into his nostrils. This is done so that the saline does not ooze out. Also, use homemade saline drops in case of an emergency only since it is prone to bacteria.
Turmeric or haldi has been lauded for its healing properties for centuries now, so it isn’t surprising that it’s a part of lots of home remedies in India. Mix a little turmeric with warm water to make a smooth paste, and apply this mixture on your baby’s chest, forehead, and the soles of his feet. Wash it away after some time. The heat from the turmeric will help in diluting the mucus and allow it to ooze out easier.
4. Warm Mustard Oil Massage
Warm a cup of mustard oil with two cloves of garlic and a few kalonji seeds (Nigella sativa). Massage this infused oil onto your baby’s feet, chest, back, and palms. Wipe away the excess oil with a muslin cloth.
Home Remedies Suitable for Babies of Ages 9 Months and Above
5. Jaggery, Cumin, Black Pepper, and Warm Water Concoction
This concoction can calm colds and a cough and sore throat.
You will need the following ingredients:
Mix all the ingredients and bring the water to a boil. Cool and filter the water to be fed. Do not give the baby more than two teaspoons of this concoction as the jaggery and pepper contain heat, which is only good for young babies in small proportions.
6. Infused Coconut Oil Massage
You will need the following ingredients:
- 1/2 cup of coconut oil
- 1 pearl onion
- 2 to 3 tulsi leaves
- 1 betel stem
Heat the coconut oil and add the other ingredients to it. When the ingredients are warm enough, switch off the stove. Let it cool, and once the oil has reached a lukewarm temperature, apply it on the baby’s chest, back, the soles of his feet, and his palms.
Note: Though the common practice is to add a pinch of camphor to this oil, it is not advised to use camphor for children under two years of age. Research says that camphor is too strong and pungent, and will lead to the creation of more mucus. This is the body’s way of shielding itself from pungent smells.
Home Remedies Suitable for Babies of Ages 1 and Above
7. Honey Combinations
An important note – avoid honey for babies younger than a year. Honey cannot be given to children below the age of one as it is harmful to them. They do not have the digestive capacity to dissolve certain particles of raw honey. However, once they are above 12 months old, they develop enough digestion capacity to have honey. Honey is an excellent remedy to fight off germs that spread colds and cough. It can be combined with pepper, dry ginger, and lemon juice for excellent results.
- Honey and pepper: Add a pinch of powdered pepper to a spoon of honey and feed the baby at regular intervals. This is good for both cold and cough.
- Honey and dry ginger: A generous pinch of dry ginger powder with a tablespoon of honey is a great remedy for a cough.
- Lemon and honey: Squeeze some lemon juice into a glass of water and add some honey to it. This is a tasty remedy and kids wouldn’t really say no to this homemade medicine! It also relieves both a cough and cold.
Feed your baby a teaspoon of these solutions every morning, noon, and evening. They can even be fed to the child more than thrice a day. You will notice that your baby’s cough and cold clear out soon.
8. Turmeric Milk
Everyone has heard of the term ‘haldi doodh’. Turmeric milk is a must for a dry cough. Give the baby a glass of milk with a pinch of turmeric at night. You can even add jaggery for sweetness. More so, milk and turmeric make for a healthy and nutritious combination.
Instant Relief From Cough And Cold For Babies
No matter the cause of your baby’s cough, there are some sure warning signs that you need medical help. If your child is coughing and has any of the following symptoms, consider heading to your local emergency room (ER).
- troubled or labored breathing
- shortness of breath
- a fever higher than 100.4°F (38°C) (children under 3 months) or higher than 102.2°F (39°C) (children over 3 months)
- blood when coughing
- trouble swallowing
- difficulty opening their mouth the whole way
- significant tonsil swelling on just one side
Other symptoms to note:
- any cough in newborns within the first couple of weeks
- a cough that lasts 8 weeks or longer
- a cough that worsens with time, especially after 3 weeks
- a cough with night sweats or weight loss
- any cough — wet or dry — with wheezing or rapid breathing
Even if your baby doesn’t have severe signs but is acting differently than normal, it might be a good idea to at least call your pediatrician. You know your child best. Your doctor can help guide you, whether that be to take your baby to the ER or go in for an office visit.
Even if your child’s symptoms aren’t serious, it can be scary waking up in the middle of the night to hear your baby hacking away. Knowing a few home remedies can give you some ideas of things to try so you don’t feel as helpless.
Consider making a kit containing certain items, such as saline and a bulb syringe, so they’re within easy reach when you need them.
Keeping your baby hydrated is key to keeping their mucus flowing and easy to cough up. If your baby’s dehydrated, their snot and other secretions may dry up and be difficult to clear away with coughing.
This means breastfeeding or offering their regular amount of formula as frequently as your child needs. Experts say extra fluids aren’t necessary, but they recommend keeping up with the normal amounts.
Stick with breast milk and formula for younger babies. Fluids may include water and unsweetened juices for older babies.
Another way to moisten secretions is to use over-the-counter (OTC) saline drops in your baby’s nose. What does your baby’s nose have to do with coughing? With cold and flu — quite a lot.
The mucus in your child’s nose can travel down the back of their nose and throat to cause postnasal drip. This irritates the throat and produces a wet, barky cough and rattling noise in the upper airway (not chest). You may especially notice this cough after your baby wakes up.
Use two to three saline drops per nostril a few times throughout the day. Your baby may not love the sensation of the drops going into their nose, or they may sneeze. That’s OK.
You can also try sucking the mucus out of your baby’s nose before it has a chance to reach and irritate their throat and airway.
After using saline drops, take a bulb syringe and squeeze it to push the air out. While still pressing it, insert it one-quarter to one-half of an inch into your baby’s nostril, being sure to point toward the back/side of their nose.
Release the pressure to allow the syringe to suck the mucus out, and remove it for cleaning before repeating on the other side. Be sure to clean it again before storing it. Repeat as necessary throughout the day, but keep in mind you may irritate your baby’s nostrils if you do it too frequently.
Moistening the air your child breathes is another way to keep things flowing. Of course, you can purchase a humidifier to add moisture to your baby’s nursery. Yet, some doctors say these devices may not provide enough humidity to help and are difficult to clean, and therefore, keep safe.
One possible alternative is to treat your bathroom like a steam room. You can run hot water in the shower, close the bathroom door, and let the humidity build. Just 10–15 minutes should do the trick.
You might also consider patting your baby’s chest and back to help loosen particularly stubborn mucus. Apply firm pressure that’s a bit harder than when you burp them.
For babies 12 months or older, you might try giving them a small amount of honey before bedtime or naps. The honey will coat your little one’s throat to relieve soreness. One studyTrusted Source revealed that honey may be as effective as the OTC cough suppressant dextromethorphan.
You may notice that your baby coughs the most at nighttime. Some experts suggest propping older babies with extra pillows to help raise their head and improve breathing.
Do not use pillows or other positioners for babies under 12 months. Instead, consult your pediatrician to see whether propping the head of your baby’s crib is a possibility to help them sleep.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warns against the use of sleep aids — car seats, bouncers, other inclined products — that position younger babies at an incline greater than 10 degrees. This can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
If you’re worried about the cough and your baby’s breathing, consider sleeping in the same room with your child so you can help them as needed.
Try ridding your home of any irritants that might trigger asthma or allergies. Offenders might include things like tobacco smoke, dust, mold, and anything else that allergy testing reveals is a trigger for your baby.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source also says you should avoid being outdoors on days with poor air quality.
Things that can help keep your indoor air irritant-free:
- not smoking around your baby or indoors (Plus, smoke can linger on fabrics like clothing, so quitting altogether is best.)
- vacuuming carpets using a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter
- using a room air purifier that has a HEPA filter
- keeping the humidity level of your home between 40 and 50 percent
- keeping pets out of sleeping areas
- using allergen-proof mattress covers and pillow covers
Coughing is the result of your baby’s airway being irritated or otherwise affected in some way. It may be caused by excess mucus buildup related to a viral illness or environmental irritants like pollen or smoke. You can look at your child’s other symptoms to help narrow down the cause.
Cold and flu
There are over 200 different cold viruses that your baby may come into contact with. They cause stuffy noses, sneezing, fever, and — yes — cough. Treatment involves keeping your baby comfortable and using OTC medications to address fever and pain.
Signs of flu in babies include:
- body aches and headache
- sore throat
- stuffy nose
- dry cough
Your child may also have an upset stomach with vomiting or diarrhea. Your little one’s doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication if you catch the illness early. Otherwise, rest, fluids, OTC fever reducers, and time should do the trick.
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, may likewise lead to cold-like symptoms in babies. If you’ve been exposed to a person who has a SARS-CoV-2 infection, contact your doctor for further instructions about treatment and testing. Babies under age 1 may be at higher risk of developing complications from the virus.
The sound of a croup cough is unmistakable. You may think there’s a seal barking in your baby’s crib.
While other symptoms vary, your baby may have:
- a runny nose
- laryngitis (loss of voice)
- a fever
- stridor (a high-pitched whistling sound when breathing)
Mild croup can often be treated at home. Severe croup may be addressed with breathing treatments or steroids.
A cold, flu, or other illness can progress into pneumonia — or your baby can catch it from another child or adult who’s inflected with certain types. The cough is productive, meaning it produces mucus, and can be painful.
Your baby may also have a fever, fatigue, and vomiting or diarrhea. Treatment may involve antibiotics, extra fluids, and rest.
Along with a low grade fever and runny nose, babies develop a mild cough with pertussis (whooping cough). In the second stage of the illness, the cough can become severe and come in fits. The cough sounds dry and harsh and may end with a characteristic “whoop” sound.
Your child may need antibiotics and/or hospitalization to recover.
Viruses are the most common trigger of asthma episodes in babies 6 months old and younger. The cough is persistent and may be accompanied by wheezing and exaggerated breathing (nostrils flaring, skin sucking between ribs, etc.).
Other signs include:
- rapid breathing
- trouble sucking/eating
- pale/blue coloring
Treatment involves specific asthma medications.
Babies can also have allergies to certain foods or substances or even seasonal allergies. Symptoms differ from those associated with colds and the flu in that they’re triggered by exposure to an allergen.
A cough can be an allergy symptom, but it isn’t as common of a symptom as it is with colds. The main difference is that allergies don’t cause a fever, aches, and pains, and they rarely cause a sore throat. If you suspect allergies, you may be referred to a specialist for further testing.
Is your baby spitting up frequently, losing weight, or grumpy during or after feedings? It may be reflux.
Cough with reflux is usually chronic in nature due to the consistent backward flow of stomach contents and acid. Some babies grow out of reflux with time. Others may need medication or other treatments to get better.
Home Remedies For Cold And Cough For 3 Months Baby
1. Clear Out Mucus
For the first six months, babies tend to breathe through their nose, so congestion can hit them hard, says Mike Patrick, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Clearing mucus with a bulb syringe can help them breathe easier. The standard blue-bulb syringe can be too big for the tiniest nostrils, so if this is the case, try a smaller version that’s marketed as an ear syringe.
To use the syringe, squeeze the bulb to release excess air, and gently insert it into your baby’s nostril. Tilt the tip down slightly so it’s more perpendicular to their face, release the pressure, and take it out of their nose. Squeeze the mucus onto a tissue. “You’ll be surprised how much you can get out,” says Dr. Patrick.
For more power, use a saline nasal solution to loosen the congestion first. Following the manufacturer’s directions, simply lay your baby on their back and spray a few drops into each nostril.
2. Keep Your Baby Hydrated
Just like adults, babies sometimes don’t feel like eating when they’re sick, but you should still encourage your infant to nurse or take a bottle as often as possible, says Charla Tabet, an infant-development specialist at La Rabida Children’s Hospital in Chicago. If they won’t drink milk, consult with your doctor to make sure they don’t become dehydrated—and ask if you can offer them an electrolyte solution. Feeding your baby in an upright position can also help ease congestion and prevent mucus from running down their throat while drinking.
3. Loosen Phlegm with Moisture
“Babies don’t have the muscle strength to cough effectively, so it can be tough for them to clear phlegm,” says Stan Spinner, M.D., chief medical officer of Texas Children’s Pediatrics in Houston. One natural remedy that can help: Take your baby into the bathroom and turn on the shower to make the air hot and steamy. “It will get his nose running, loosen the mucus in his throat, and make his coughs more productive,” says Dr. Spinner. Try doing it before bed, since mucus tends to drain into your baby’s throat and chest while they lie down. (Note: Don’t take your baby into the shower with you because the hot water can scald them.)
4. Encourage Rest
Your baby needs more sleep when they’re sick, but all those annoying symptoms can make a decent snooze difficult. A comforting bedtime routine—such as playing music or taking a bath together—can go a long way toward encouraging your little one to nod off.
5. Run a Humidifier
Putting a cool mist humidifier in your baby’s room during naps and nighttime can serve as a cold remedy. That’s because humidifiers moisten the dry winter air, which relieves coughing and congestion, says Rhya Strifling, M.D., a mom and pediatrician at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. Keep the humidifier out of your baby’s reach, and fill it with fresh water every day so it doesn’t get moldy. Also, be sure not to have the heat turned up too high, which can worsen your baby’s congestion.
When to Visit the Doctor
For infants up to 3 months, any fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit is a “call your doctor right away” scenario, says William Varley, M.D., community pediatrician with Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. For older babies, look out for a fever that lasts more than three days or that develops a few days after the onset of cold symptoms. Other signs to watch for include wheezing or rapid, strained breathing, which may indicate a virus or pneumonia. If your baby develops coughing fits, it may be whooping cough.