Looking for home remedies for cold and cough in babies and kids?
Change of weather bring about a change in health at home?
Want to know what best thing for toddler cough?
Do you need cold remedies for babies that really work?
“I can’t bear to look at my son. It just hurts when I see the little chest heaving in pain due to cough, my poor little thing”. These were my colleague’s words when I asked about her son. I could imagine the plight she was going through.
As the weather changed drastically in Mumbai, everyone including the babies are affected. It has brought on an onslaught of coughs, colds, fevers and what not. While most of the general population is affected, babies are the ones to have it rough.
To top it all, those poor things can even tell you about their discomfort. So they resort to the only thing they know, cry.
Older kids become fussy and cranky making you wonder if someone swapped your adorable darling with a changeling.
I had to take a leave on Monday as my little Anshika was also affected by the change of weather. She was really cranky due to cold and cough. Now she is better and relieved.
So that made me think, why not write a post about simple cold and cough home remedies for babies, toddlers and kids. These are tried and tested home remedies that have helped me. This post is about the 21 home remedies for cold and cough in babies, toddlers and kids.
Symptoms of cold, cough and fever in babies:
The cold and fever symptoms can be confusing for many parents.
How do you know if it is a cold or a fever? While the symptoms look alike and can make you worried, it is easy to distinguish between the two.
Cold brings with it a runny nose, nose congestion, sneezing, cough and at times a mild rise in the body temperature.
Fever symptoms are more severe. It can cause high temperature, throat infection, cough, body pain etc.
Cold or fever, make sure you let your doctor prescribe the medicines for your child.
61 Effective home remedies for cold and cough in babies, toddlers and kids:
Why do mommies turn to home remedies for tackling minor booboos and ouchies? The main reason – It is not made of harmless chemicals!
I thought of diving the remedies according to the age groups so that it is easier for you.
You see, not all the remedies are suitable for all the age groups.
Remember your baby’s first cold?
I do, Anshika was barely 3 weeks old when she became down with her first cold and cough. I remember feeling really helpless as she struggled. At that age, they are already really delicate and any illness can make matters worse.
I am sure many moms would have gone through this difficult phase of sleepless night and crankiness in babies during cold and cough. So let us take a look at some home remedies that can bring down their discomfort and ensure a fast recovery.
#1. Breast milk
Breast milk is a wonder drink. So babies under 6 months do not need any other medication other than breast milk during cold and cough to fight off the virus and bacteria.
As you know breast milk is loaded with antibodies. These antibodies present in breast milk helps the baby’s body to build immunity against all types of germs, viruses and bacteria. It also helps to keep your little one properly hydrated.
You can also read the benefits of breastfeeding you might know about.
#2. Nasal saline drops
This has proven effective in my case and I almost nicknamed it my savior. It has helped in clearing her nose and prevents crusting. It also makes cleaning the nose way easier and comparatively tear free.
I am sure your pediatrician would have prescribed pediatric saline drops for infants for your little one. Make sure you follow what your doctor or his prescription says.
The general rule is to clean the nostrils gently and then to put the drops in. Keep the head tilted so that the medicine doesn’t flow out.
You can make saline drops at home too.
Take a steel bowl, spoon and sterilize it well. Take 1/2 tsp of salt and dissolve it in 8 tsp of warm filtered water. Once it has cooled, you can use it for your baby. But use it only in case of emergencies and I suggest to go for the saline drops available in the market than the home-made ones as there is a risk of bacterial growth.
Nasal aspirator is also a really good option to decongest your baby’s blocked nose. This helps in sucking out whatever is blocking his/her nose.
You can BUY IT HERE
You can also read about the 5 tricks to keep cold at bay.
#3. Garlic and Ajwain Potli (pouch)
Garlic and Ajwain (carom seeds) are known for its anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. So these two combined can prove to be pretty powerful and it makes a strong weapon against cold and congestion. But don’t let the name scare you, it is actually very easy to put together.
You need 3 things to make this potli or pouch- garlic, carom seeds and a clean muslin cloth.
Dry roast 2 big cloves of garlic and 1 tablespoon of ajwain on a tawa. Wait for it to cool and once cooled make it into a potli or tight pouch. You can do that with the help of a clean muslin cloth.
Place this potli in the baby cot or cradle where baby sleeps. The garlicky ajwain smoke emanating from the potli will help the baby as it helps to open the blocked nose and provides relief from congestion.
WORD OF CAUTION: Please do not keep the potli/ pouch near your baby to avoid the chances of him/her putting it into the mouth leading to choking. If placed too close by it can also become a breathing hazard.
If you are worried about the safety, then you can also dry rub the potli under baby’s feet. This method is also effective.
A fleshy perennial plant, widely found in South India called panikoorka is used for treating cough, fever, sore throat and congestion in babies.
Known as Indian borage, patta ajwain, patthar choor, karpooravalli or navarayila, Its a natural anti pyretic and expectorant. The fleshy aromatic leaves are wilted on the stove top, cooled and then put on the baby’s forehead. The leaves dry up indicating the absorption of water relieving the baby from cough/congestion.
#5. Oil massage
Take about ¼ cup of mustard oil and heat it. Take one or two garlic cloves. Crush them lightly and then chop them up. Add them to the mustard oil. Wait for it turn brown, then remove it from the heat.
Remember only till it turn brown, don’t let it burn. You can use this oil and massage the little one’s chest and soles of the feet. Make him or her wear socks.
A pinch of carom seeds (ajwain) can also be added for better results. Add it while heating the oil. Like the garlic, don’t let it go black.
Mustard oil, garlic and carom seeds have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. Apart from that mustard oil has a warming effect which helps with the congestion. It helps to give your baby a much needed relief.
You can also read the step by step method to oil massage a baby.
WORD OF CAUTION: Never allow the ingestion of oil by the baby as it might cause loose motions and other problems. No intake of oils or herbal medicines are encouraged for babies.
#6. Kesar tilak
Take a few strands of kesar or saffron. Rub it on a stone pad to get the paste. Apply tilak or tikka on baby’s sole and forehead at night.
Saffron tilak will help in absorption of the accumulated water in baby’s forehead.
#7. Drumstick leaves hair oil
This is an age old remedy used by my mother.
The tender green moringa or drumstick leaves are picked. Warm 1/2 cup of coconut oil in a heavy bottomed kadai and add a handful of moringa leaves.
Once the leaves get wilted, you can take the kadai off the stove.
Use this as your baby’s hair oil during cold, cough and congestion.
#8. Clothing as per the climate
Baby’s clothing should be as such to protect the chest from cold.
If it cold, then make sure you layer his clothing so as to keep him warm.
If it is already hot ensure that he comfortably dressed and he/ she doesn’t feel too stuffy.
While the usage of blanket may seem like the go to option for the night, it may not be a good idea. Your baby might end up drawing the sheet or blanket over his/her head. This can cause suffocation and put your baby at risk of SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
You can dress your kiddo up in a onesie and make him or her wear a t-shirt on top. This can be effective if it is not cold outside.
Remember, his or her comfort matters the most, so if you think he is feeling cranky feel free to modify his/ her outfit accordingly. However, remember to keep the chest covered.
#9. Sanitizing yours and baby’s hands
Keep baby’s and your hands sanitized thoroughly at regular intervals with antibacterial baby wipes or soap. If you are wondering how this helps or have someone in the family who says that they don’t believe in this, let me tell why it is important.
This helps to prevent the spread of germs. You do not want to make the situation bad now do you?
You will meet and interact with a lot of people during the course of the day and that means you will be exchanging a lot of bacteria and germs as well.
During an illness, the body’s immune system aka the defense mechanism is not as strong – which means he or she is susceptible to other diseases. So at least till the time he /she is not in the pink of health, ensure you follow this practice.
#10. Keep baby’s head elevated
Try to keep your baby’s head in an elevated position when he or she sleeps. This helps to facilitate proper breathing. Also remove anything from his crib, cot or mattress that may affect his breathing.
You can use breast milk, saline nasal drops, ajwain garlic potli for babies above 6 months too. Also stick to the things mentioned in points 4, 5 and 6 too.
Apart from those remedies you can also include these simple remedies to counter cold, cough and congestion.
#11. Panikoorka juice
Steam the panikoorka leaves and extract its juice. Give 1/2 teaspoon to babies of 7 months and above. It is effective against cold and cough in babies.
#12. Dry roasted turmeric rub
This remedy is known as unakka manjal chuttathu in Kerala.
Place dried turmeric stick on the flame till its gets a slightly charred texture. Rub on a stone to get the turmeric paste.
Apply the paste on the bridge of baby’s nose to get relief.
WORD OF CAUTION: Please note not to smear the turmeric paste inside baby’s nose or suffocate the baby in any way.
#13. Turmeric paste
Mix turmeric powder with a little water to form paste. Take it in a ladle and heat it. Switch off once warm.
Apply the luke warm turmeric paste on chest, forehead and feet. The heat from the turmeric can absorb the phlegm, thereby relieving the baby from cold and cough.
#14. Carrot juice
Juice extracted from fresh carrots, diluted with boiled cooled water at room temperature can be given to babies of 6 months and above. It is found to be effective against cold and cough.
WORD OF CAUTION
Please make sure you have introduced carrots and your baby is not allergic to it before giving the juice.
#15. Warm mustard oil massage
Warm mustard oil with a few kalonji seeds (nigella sativa) and 2 garlic cloves. Apply on baby’s chest, under the nose, back of feet and palms. Massage gently.
You can wipe off the excess oil post massage.
#16. Offering warm water with ajwain or cumin
Give warm water at regular intervals to keep the baby well hydrated.
Hydration is very important during any ailment. Your baby might be cranky and wouldn’t want to have anything but ensure you give him/her some warm water. You can try boiled ajwain or cumin water.
Take a glass of water and add a small pinch of ajwain, carom or cumin/jeera to it. Wait for the water to boil. Cool the water and use it.
If you are concerned about your baby having adequate amount of water, do read the article on water intake of babies.
#17. Warm massage with mustard oil infused with rock salt
Warm mustard oil. Mix a teaspoon of sendha namak or rock salt to it. Apply on baby’s back and chest.
#18. Ajwain kada
Kada with ajwain or omam is excellent for cold and cough in babies.
- Ajwain or oman – 1 teaspoon
- Tulsi or basil leaves – 8
- Dry ginger powder or chukku – 1/2 teaspoon (optional)
- Clove – 1
- Black pepper – 5
- Turmeric – 1/2 teaspoon
- Jaggery – 1/3 cup
- Water – 1/2 cup
Take all the ingredients in a heavy bottomed vessel and boil for 10 minutes or the quantity reduces to 3/4th. Strain, cool and feed it to your baby.
The dosage is 1 teaspoon twice a day after meals. If you are giving allopathic cough syrups, do not give this ajwain kada.
#19. Offering soups
Add some soups to his diet.
These soups increase the immunity of the body. It will help ensure that their energy levels don’t dip too much and will help them fight the illness.
#20. Nilgiri oil
No, you do not have to travel all the way to Nilgiri for nilgiri oil. It is also known as eucalyptus oil.
It is extracted from the Eucalyptus tree and has a lot of uses. It is used fror treating nicks and cuts, relieving respiratory issues, clearing the sinuses, providingrelief from allergies etc. It is also a expectorant and hence is used for cold relief too.
You can take some cotton and dip it in some nilgiri oil. Placing it in the room where baby sleeps is found to be effective. You can also use a few drops in your diffuser, if you have one.
You can buy nilgiri oil HERE.
You can try steaming the room using a vaporizer or giving a warm shower. This is beneficial in providing symptomatic relief as the steam helps to loosen the phlegm and clear the nose. It eventually makes it easier for your little one to breathe.
NOTE: Steam should not placed close to the baby as it can cause scalding.
#22. Garlic ajwain potli rub
The garlic and ajwain potli in step 3, can be used to rub on the baby’s chest.
It has to warmed up first. You can do this by using a tawa, place the potli on a warm tawa don’t wait for it to become too hot though. This medicated potli helps by clearing the chest. So bye bye congestion and phlegm!
NOTE: Don’t apply the potli on the chest directly from the tawa! Always do a temperature check prior to application. You can place it on your palm or the inside of your wrist, check for the temperature and rub it on with the slight heat.
If it feels too hot, wait for it to cool down. If you can’t feel any heat, then you need to re-heat it.
Babies have really sensitive skin and so you have to extra cautious. The skin on our palm and inner wrist is delicate compared to the rest of our body. So the temperature you feel is the closest to what your baby will feel. This way you can be sure that it won’t burn your baby or cause any discomfort.
Tomato and garlic soup also called rasam can be given to babies of 7 months and above. This is popular in South India as a common cure for cold and cough. The ingredients help in kicking the immune system back on track and helps the little ones get well soon.
The bonus is that it tastes yummy! A welcome change from the bland fare we give them during any illness. Please omit the red chillies or chilly powder here. You can read the easy and lip smacking rasam recipe for babies and kids.
#24. Ajwain water with jaggery
Boil 1 cup of water with a pinch of ajwain and 1 teaspoon of jaggery. Strain, cool and give it to your baby.
The dosage is 1 teaspoon once a day.
#25. Vapo rub
Apply vapo rub for babies under the feet and put on cotton socks before sleep.
How does it help? Truth be told, I don’t know. It could be due to the menthol or camphor in it. But many moms and grand moms swear by this remedy.
It is like a wonder remedy. It helps to soothe the baby and provides him/ her with an undisturbed sleep. It works for cough too.
Always be a bit careful when you apply it on older kids feet as it can be slippery. If they have to wake up to use the washroom, ensure that you see that they are careful and walk slowly.
#26. Fennel seeds and ajwain infused water
Boil 1 cup of water with 1 teaspoon fennel seeds and a pinch of ajwain seeds. Cool, strain and feed your baby.
The dosage is 2 teaspoons a day morning and night.
All the above methods till no: 25 can be used for babies of 9 months and above too. Apart from that, the following can be used too.
#27. Lady’s finger soup
Yes! The very humble green lady’s finger can help baby get rid of cold and cough.
- Lady’s finger – 1 chopped
- Water – 1 cup
Boil the finely chopped lady’s finger with water for 10 minutes. Strain, cool and give it as a soup.
#28. Jaggery, cumin and black pepper in warm water
This concoction is effective for cold, cough and sore throat in babies. Restrict the dosage of 1-2 teaspoons to once a day as jaggery is hot by nature.
- Jaggery powder – 1 to 2 teaspoon
- Cumin seeds – a pinch
- Black pepper – 1 or 2
- Water – 1 cup
Boil all the ingredients in water for 10 minutes. Strain, cool and feed to your baby.
#29. Infused coconut oil massage
Warm 1/2 cup of coconut oil with 1 pearl onion, 2 to 3 tulsi leaves and 1 betel stem. Once switched off, add a pinch of camphor to it.
Apply this oil on baby’s chest, neck, back bone and under arms.
Note: Do not exceed the amount of camphor as its too strong and pungent in nature.
#30. Camphor infused coconut oil massage
Warm coconut oil. Add a pinch of camphor to the oil after taking from the stove. Use it to massage your baby.
You can also use karpooradi thailam available in the stores.
For babies above one year you can follow the remedies mentioned above. Apart from that you can also use the following remedies.
Does your little one get up frequently at night unable to sleep due to the persistent cough. Let him have a lick of 1 teaspoon plain honey. It helps to soothe his irritated throat.
#32. White onion juice
White onion also known as ‘safedh kanda’ is available in North India during the months of April-May. Its known for its medicinal benefits.
Extract the juice of the white onion and offer 1 teaspoon to your toddler. It helps to relieve him of cold, cough and congestion.
#33. Ginger and honey
Grate ginger and add honey to it. A teaspoon of this can be given at regular intervals. It helps to soothe the throat, respiratory tract and provides relief from cough.
#34. Lemon Juice and honey
Add lemon juice and honey. Add a little warm water to it and give it your baby to drink.
This is yet another favorite because kids make a face at medicines, but when it comes to yummy drinks, they don’t say no. So this is a remedy that doesn’t face any resistance from their side as it does not taste like a medicine at all.
Moms don’t complain either, it helps them in fighting the cold and cough, keeps them hydrated and also provides them with energy.
#35. Turmeric milk
Milk with turmeric also known as ‘haldi doodh’ is something most of us are familiar with. It is famous remedy and is very effective for dry coughs. It is made by boiling a glass of water with a pinch of turmeric.
Turmeric is known for its medicinal qualities and it helps to fight the illness and provide fast relief. The warm milk will also help in providing your baby with a nice and uninterrupted sleep.
#36. Ginger coffee
This works like magic.
I know what you are thinking, coffee for a small kid?. Well though this is called coffee, you can make it without using coffee powder.
- Ginger slices – 2
- Tulsi leaves – 2
- Pepper corns – 2
- Cardamom – 2
- Cloves – 2
- Jaggery or jaggery powder – 1 tablespoon
- Water – 1 cup
Boil water with all the ingredients mentioned. Strain and give this concoction for quick relief from cold and cough. This may feel a bit fiery but it is absolutely effective against even the toughest of colds.
Each and every ingredient in this drink are known its abilities to fight cold and cough.
#37. Dry Ginger Coffee
Dry ginger coffee or chukku kaapi is widely used in South India as an effective remedy for cold and cough.
- Dry Ginger or Chukku – 1 inch piece
- Tulsi leaves – 6 to 7
- Pepper corns – 2
- Jaggery – 1 block
- Water – 1 cup
Crush dry ginger and pepper corn roughly. Tear tulsi leaves and keep aside.
Boil water with jaggery and let it dissolve. Add dry ginger and pepper corns followed by tulsi leaves.
Once the leaves get wilted, switch off the gas. Sieve and feed your baby luke warm.
#38. Ginger and Tulsi mix
Crush both ginger and tulsi to extract the juice. Add honey and give to your toddler.
#39. Clove honey mix
Now this is a remedy that may have you wondering, cloves for cold? Let me tell you, it works! It is an expectorant and helps in getting rid that phlegm. It is also beneficial in keeping that cough in check and also provides a sound sleep.
Dry roast 5 cloves and grind it well once cooled. Add honey to it and give it before sleep.
#40.Tulsi, ginger and black pepper
Boil 1 cup of water with 5 tulsi leaves, 1/2 inch ginger and 2 pepper pods. Strain, cool and let your toddler drink it.
#41. Garlic and honey mix
Honey is an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent.
Take a small clove of garlic, crush it, add some honey and make a paste. Give it once or twice a day. The allicin in garlic is an anti-microbial and anti-viral and anti-biotic. It helps to expel the phlegm and reduce chest congestion.
Babies aren’t fans of the garlicky taste but the honey helps to sweeten the deal. You can also add garlic to their food.
#42. Infused water with betel leaves or vethilai kashayam
Boil water with tulsi leaves, betel leaves, pepper and ajwain. Once cooled, strain and add honey.
#43. Cumin powder mix
- Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon
- Sugar candy or kalkandam – 1 or 2 pieces
Grind both cumin seeds and sugar candy to a fine powder. Offer this to your kid whenever he coughs.
#44. Dry ginger powder mix
Finely powder cumin seeds, dry ginger and sugar candy. Store in an air tight container. Use it for your toddler’s persistent cold and cough.
#45. Honey and ginger infused water
Warm water with a few ginger slices. Add honey to it when it turns luke warm. Let your kid drink this infused water.
#46. Cinnamon and honey
Take a teaspoon of honey and add a pinch of cinnamon powder. Offer this to your child during bouts of cold and cough.
#47. Adathoda kashayam or kada
Adathoda or adulza is a medicinal plant widely used in Siddha medicine. Make the kada of adulza leaves along with jaggery or honey.
#48. Ghee with black pepper
Take a teaspoon of ghee and add a pinch of freshly ground pepper powder. Delicious in taste, it is a sure shot winner against cold and cough too.
#49. Kacchiya enna
Kacchiya enna or heated hair oil when used during cold and cough, helps to decongest the baby naturally. The ingredients are tulsi leaves, drum stick leaves, coconut oil etc.
#50. Saffron milk
Kesar milk also known as saffron milk is excellent during cold and cough in toddlers.
Add a few strands of saffron to 1 cup of boiled milk. Let it cool, strain out the saffron threads and offer to your kid before sleeping at night.
#51. Lemon, cinnamon and honey concoction
Make a concoction of lemon juice, cinnamon powder and honey. It is excellent for fighting the cold and cough virus.
#52. Chukku-thippili mix
Dry roast dry ginger and long pepper separately. Grind to a fine powder. Add palm jaggery or honey to the mix and use it as ready made cough syrup.
All the home remedies mentioned above can be used here.
#53. Jaggery and peppercorn mix
The jaggery and peppercorn mix is proven to be an effective expectorant. With the phlegm out, the chest congestion will come down and so will the cough.
- Jaggery or jaggery powder – 1 1/2 tablespoon
- Peppercorns – 3 or 4
Pound jaggery and peppercorns to a fine powder and store it in an air tight container. Let your kid have a pinch or two whenever he or she gets a cough.
Don’t worry about the heat, the jaggery will help mask that.
#54. Ginger and salt crush
Crush ginger or cut it into fine juliens. Add salt to it. Offer this to your toddler to get rid of sore throat, cold and cough.
#55. Homemade jaggery balls
Mix turmeric powder, ghee and jaggery powder to form small balls. Let your child savor as and when he gets a cold, cough or sore throat.
For kids above 4 years, you can use the remedies mentioned above for relief from cold and cough.
#56. Inhale medicated vapors
Pour 2 drops of eucalyptus oil or nilgiri oil in a pot of steaming boiled water. You can also add a few tulsi leaves to the water.
You can also use an electric machine for steam inhalation.
Ask the child to bend and cover his head with a blanket that facilitates breathing and inhale the medicated vapors. This helps to unblock the nasal tract and also loosen the phlegm. It helps the child to breathe easy and also facilitates the loosening of phlegm. This can then be spit out by the child.
Do not try this with smaller kids as they can burn themselves. Also coming to close to the steam can lead to scalding.
Make sure the pot you are using doesn’t topple over. Keep it secure to avoid accidents. Also caution your child about the dangers of touching hot objects and going close to steam.
#57. Gargling with honey, lime and warm water
Gargle with honey, lime and warm water which helps to clear off the throat and nose. This can’t be done by younger kids. But for kids above 4, this can be done and it works wonders.
Apart from clearing the throat and nose, it also helps in providing relief, especially if your little one has a bad scratchy cough.
You can buy pure honey from HERE.
#58. Homemade masala tea
If you child is rejecting every homemade syrup that you offered, try this.
Make a desi masala chai at home with healing spices like ginger, cardamom, pepper, mulethi etc. Offer this to your kid.
This tea can fight cold and cough virus thanks to the anti-bacterial and anti inflammatory properties of the spices added.
#59. Plain water gargle
Let your kid gargle with salted warm water. Helps to soothe the throat infection and cough.
#60. Salt water gargle with turmeric
We add a natural anti septic twist to the plain old salt water gargle. Add a pinch of turmeric powder and then ask your kid to gargle with it.
#61. Homemade cough mix
The best part about this homemade cough mix powder is that you can make and keep it in an airtight container. This can be very handy in case of emergencies while travelling with your kids.
- Rock sugar – medium sized cube
- Pepper corns – 1 or 2
- Dried ginger, sonth or chukku – a small piece
- Jeera or cumin powder – 1/4 teaspoon
Powder it all together.
When your child is affected by a bad cough ask him/her to take a small pinch of this powder for instant relief. Always make a fresh batch to retain the freshness.
Things to keep in mind:
- When should you be worried?
If your baby’s cold and cough persists for more than 2 weeks, please consult a pediatrician immediately. It might not be just a normal cold and cough that you think it is. It could be a serious infection that requires a doctor’s intervention.
- Please don’t try any home remedies which involves intake of any oil / herb/ medicines for babies below 6 months. They will do more harm than good.
- Make sure you follow all the precautions mentioned in this post, while using these home remedies.
- Do not use honey for children under a year old. This is because it could cause a rare and dangerous form of disorder called Infant botulism. This happens when the spores of clostridium botulinum enters the body and produces a toxin. Honey is a food item where this spore could be found. This is why honey is not given to kids under one. Kids above 1 year can have honey as their immune system is stronger and better developed.
- If you are using any ingredient for the first time, make sure you check if you child is allergic to that or not.
In addition to the above mentioned 6 home remedies, we recommend nasobuddy nasal aspirator for your baby which is efficient in relieving the baby’s stuffed nose.
You can read my review of the nasobuddy nasal aspirator and buy it by clicking the banner below.
Hope this helps. I am sure there would be many more home remedies for cold and cough in babies and kids. Please share with me in comments.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2013 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.