Cough And Cold Home Remedies For Baby

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.

Related: Parents advised not to give decongestants to young children

Home remedies to ease the cough

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.

1. Push fluids

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.

2. Use saline drops

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.

3. Try suction

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.

4. Switch on a humidifier

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.

5. Offer honey (for babies over age 1)

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.

Serve your child one-half to one teaspoon of honey as needed. However, know that honey isn’t appropriate for younger babies due to the risk of botulism, which is a rare form of food poisoning.

6. Prop them up

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.

Warning

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.

7. Address irritants

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

What causes cough in babies

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:

  • fever
  • chills
  • 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.

COVID-19

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.

Croup

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.

Pneumonia

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.

Whooping cough

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.

Asthma

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
  • exhaustion
  • pale/blue coloring

Treatment involves specific asthma medications.

Allergies

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.

Reflux

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 1 Month Baby

If your baby is younger than 3 months of age, call his or her doctor early in the illness. In newborns, it’s especially important to make sure that a more serious illness isn’t present, especially if your baby has a fever.

In general, you don’t need to see the doctor if your older baby has a common cold. If you have questions or if your baby’s symptoms worsen or don’t go away, it might be time to see the doctor.

Your baby’s doctor can generally diagnose a common cold by your baby’s signs and symptoms. If your doctor suspects your baby has a bacterial infection or other condition, he or she may order a chest X-ray or other tests to exclude other causes of your baby’s symptoms.

Treatment

There’s no cure for the common cold. Most cases of the common cold get better without treatment, usually within a week to 10 days, but a cough may linger for a week or more. Antibiotics don’t work against cold viruses.

Try to make your baby more comfortable with measures such as making sure he or she drinks enough fluids, suctioning nasal mucus and keeping the air moist.

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications generally should be avoided in babies.

Fever-reducing medications

You can use OTC fever-reducing medications if a fever is making your child uncomfortable. However, these medications don’t kill the cold virus. Fever is a part of your child’s natural response to the virus, so it may help to allow your child to have a low-grade fever.

For treatment of fever or pain in children, consider giving your child infants’ or children’s over-the-counter fever and pain medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others). These are safer alternatives to aspirin.

For children younger than 3 months old, don’t give acetaminophen until your baby has been seen by a doctor. Don’t give ibuprofen to a child younger than 6 months old or to children who are vomiting constantly or are dehydrated. Use these medications for the shortest time. If you give your child a pain reliever, follow the dosing guidelines carefully. Call your doctor if you have questions about the right dosage for your baby.

Children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin. This is because aspirin has been linked to Reye’s syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition, in such children.

Cough and cold medications

Cough and cold medications aren’t safe for infants and young children. OTC cough and cold medicines don’t treat the underlying cause of a child’s cold and won’t make it go away sooner ⸺ and they can be dangerous to your baby. Cough and cold medications have potentially serious side effects, including fatal overdoses in children younger than 2 years old.

Don’t use over-the-counter medicines, except for fever reducers and pain relievers, to treat coughs and colds in children younger than 6 years old. Also consider avoiding use of these medicines for children younger than 12 years old.

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Lifestyle and home remedies

Most often, you can treat an older baby’s cold at home. To make your baby as comfortable as possible, try some of these suggestions:

  • Offer plenty of fluids. Liquids are important to avoid dehydration. Formula or breast milk is the best choice. Encourage your baby to take in the usual amount of fluids. Extra fluids aren’t necessary. If you’re breastfeeding your baby, keep it up. Breast milk offers extra protection from cold-causing germs.
  • Suction your baby’s nose. Keep your baby’s nasal passages clear with a rubber-bulb syringe. Squeeze the bulb syringe to expel the air. Then insert the tip of the bulb about 1/4 to 1/2 inch (about 6 to 12 millimeters) into your baby’s nostril, pointing toward the back and side of the nose.Release the bulb, holding it in place while it suctions the mucus from your baby’s nose. Remove the syringe from your baby’s nostril and empty the contents onto a tissue by squeezing the bulb rapidly while holding the tip down. Repeat as often as needed for each nostril. Clean the bulb syringe with soap and water.
  • Try nasal saline drops. Your baby’s doctor may recommend saline nasal drops to moisten nasal passages and loosen thick nasal mucus. Look for these OTC drops in your local pharmacy. Apply saline nasal drops, wait for a short period, and then use a suction bulb to draw mucus out of each nostril.
  • Moisten the air. Running a cool-water humidifier in your baby’s room can ease nasal congestion. Change the water daily and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning the unit.

Preparing for your appointment

If you need to see your baby’s pediatrician or family doctor, here’s some information to help you get ready for your baby’s appointment.

What you can do

Make a list of:

  • Symptoms you’ve noticed in your baby, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
  • Key personal information, such as whether your baby goes to child care or has otherwise been exposed to someone with a common cold. Include how many colds your baby has had, how long they lasted and whether your baby is exposed to secondhand smoke. It might help to make a note on your calendar the day you realize your baby has a cold.
  • All medications, vitamins or supplements your baby is taking, including dosages.
  • Questions to ask your doctor.

For a common cold, some questions to ask the doctor include:

  • What is likely causing my baby’s symptoms?
  • Are there other possible causes?
  • What tests are needed?
  • What’s the best course of action?
  • My baby has other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
  • Are there restrictions we need to follow?
  • Are there over-the-counter medications that aren’t safe for my child at this age?

Don’t hesitate to ask other questions you have.

What to expect from your doctor

Your baby’s doctor is likely to ask you questions, including:

  • When did your baby’s symptoms begin?
  • Have they been continuous or occasional?
  • How severe are they?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve them?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen them?
  • Has the nasal congestion caused your baby to eat or drink less?
  • Is your baby having as many wet diapers as usual?
  • Has there been a fever? If so, how high?
  • Are your child’s vaccinations up to date?
  • Has your child taken antibiotics recently?

Your doctor will ask additional questions based on your responses and your baby’s symptoms and needs. Preparing and anticipating questions will help you make the most of your time with the doctor.

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