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Cold and flu are infections caused by viruses. Children under the age of six cannot be given over-the-counter cold and flu medication, which is why alternate medication in the form of home remedies can be used to alleviate cold and flu symptoms in babies and children. Before we start with the list of home remedies, you are advised not to try all of these remedies at once or simultaneously, and you should take care that your child does have allergic reactions to any ingredient. Also, consult with your paediatrician before trying these remedies, and remember to keep the baby’s age in mind before using any of them.
Video: 8 Home Remedies for Cold and Flu in Babies & Kids
Before we move on to the remedies, you must know the symptoms of cold and cough in babies.
Symptoms of Cold and Flu in Babies
Knowing the signs that your baby will possibly show when he has a cold will help you soothe the condition better. Here’s what you should look for –
- Mildly running nose
- Mild cough
- Sore throat
- Stuffy or blocked nose
- Loss or decrease in appetite
- Mild fever
To treat cold in babies, it is important that parents try to first comfort them so that they feel better. Fever causes dehydration, and the baby might not always feel thirsty or comfortable drinking. However, it is essential that you encourage him to consume more fluids. Look out for signs of dehydration and feed your baby fluids accordingly.
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Here are some signs of dehydration in babies who are under 3 months of age:
- Crying without shedding tears.
- Dry and chapped lips.
- Sunken soft spots on the skin.
- Baby appears less active.
- Frequent urination (3 to 4 times in 24 hours).
Let’s take a look at some home remedies to treat cold and flu in kids.
Home Remedies For Cold and Flu in Babies and Kids
These home remedies are safe, gentle and effective in helping babies feel better when they are suffering from cold or flu.
1. Breast Milk
Breast milk contains antibodies which make the body immune to all kinds of germs and viruses, including the cold and flu viruses. Along with this, breast milk also provides hydration. This is one of the best natural remedies for flu in infants. Breast milk can be fed to babies that are under 6 months of age, who do not require any other medication.
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2. Garlic and Ajwain Pouch
Garlic and ajwain are powerful cures for a cough and cold as they contain anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. This mixture is one of the best herbal remedies for cold in children. Take 2 garlic cloves and 1 spoon of ajwain and dry roast them. Once cooled, put them in a muslin cloth and tie it tight. Place this pouch at a safe distance from the baby’s cot (not on the cot or under the bedding) so that the aroma provide comfort to the baby. This pouch should help clear any blockage the baby might have owing to a cold. Alternatively, you can also rub this pouch on the soles of the baby’s feet to achieve results.
Panikoora is a perennial plant which is found in the southern part of India. It has aromatic leaves that you can heat and dehydrate on a stovetop. Once cooled, you can place the leaves on the baby’s forehead. The dehydrated leaves absorb moisture from the baby’s body and help get rid of cold and cough. It also helps expel sputum from the infant’s air pipe.
4. Mustard Oil Infused With Garlic and Carom Seeds
Mustard oil, garlic and ajwain have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. They have a soothing effect on the baby as they ease congestion. Heat 1/4th cup of mustard oil and add 2 cloves of crushed garlic and carom seeds to it. Once they turn brown, take it off the stove. Massage this oil on the baby’s chest and under his feet.
Also Read: Herbs for Babies and Kids
5. Kesar Tilak
This paste will help absorb the water from the baby’s forehead and provide relief. Make a saffron paste and apply it on the soles of your baby’s feet and on the forehead as a tilak.
6. Dry Roasted Turmeric Rub
Turmeric can help in relieving cold symptoms as it has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. Burn a dry turmeric stick till it is charred on a stove and then make a paste by adding some water. This paste, when applied on the bridge of the baby’s nose, can provide relief. Avoid applying the paste inside the baby’s nose.
7. Carrot Juice
Carrots contain essential nutrients and vitamins that help boost the immune system. This is one of the best home remedies to treat cold in toddlers. Carrots can be steamed, mashed and diluted with some room temperature water for babies aged 6 months and above (babies who have been introduced to solids). For older kids who can digest fresh fruit juices, you can go for fresh carrot juice.
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8. Mustard Oil Infused With Rock Salt
The warmth that mustard oil provides helps in relieving congestion of the throat. Take 1 to 2 tablespoons of lukewarm mustard oil and mix half a teaspoon of rock salt to it. Massage this oil gently on the baby’s chest and back and cover with a cotton cloth to provide warmth.
9. Saline Drops
Nasal or saline drops are a quick and safe option to provide your baby some relief from congestion. One can use a dropper to administer the saline drops. Then use a nasal suction bulb to remove the mucus.
10. Use a Humidifier
A humidifier will help provide some relief from cough and cold by moistening dry air. A humidifier can be used in the baby’s room while he is asleep. Ensure that you clean the humidifier regularly or they begin to house mould and bacteria which can affect your child’s health.
11. Steam Therapy
Run a hot shower and let some the steam accumulate in the bathroom. Sit your baby in the steam for 10 to 15 minutes. The steam will loosen the mucus and will relieve the baby from congestion. Make sure your baby is adequately hydrated before and after the steam room treatment as he will lose a lot of fluids.
12. Lemon Water Mixed With Honey
Lemons are rich in Vitamin C that is effective in fighting off a cold. Squeeze some lemon juice in a glass of warm water, and add honey for taste. This remedy is best suited for older kids who have been introduced to the ingredients.
Older kids can gargle with salt water to get some relief from the cold and sore throat. Gargling helps in breaking down the mucus and reducing swelling. Make the baby gargle a few times during the day.
14. Raise Your Kid’s Head
Your child’s body repairs itself at night when he’s asleep, which is why deep, uninterrupted sleep is important for the infection to subside. Raising your kid’s head will prevent the mucous to go back into his system and allow him to breathe easily. Simply take a towel and fold it. Put this towel under your child’s head so as to elevate his head. You can do so with a soft pillow too. Make sure that the height of the pillow is optimum as your child may end up having neck trouble if the pillow is too elevated.
When you follow these remedies, you also need to bear a few things in mind to ensure your baby doesn’t develop other issues. Let’s take a look at the precautions you must take.
Precautions to Take While Using Remedies for Cold and Flu in Babies and Kids
- Avoid trying any home remedy which involves the consumption of an oil, herb, or medicine for babies below 6 months of age.
- Ensure that the baby gets 18 hours of sleep, and toddlers or older kids get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep when they have a cold and cough.
- Do not use honey for children who are less than 1-year-old. This could lead to a disorder called infant botulism (a form of poisoning).
- Toddlers and older kids should be encouraged to use a handkerchief and wash their hands to avoid infection.
- Wash your and your baby’s hands frequently during this time to avoid infections. 80% of infections spread through touch.
- Ensure that your child is not allergic to any ingredient you will be using in your home remedy.
- Breastfeed as much as you can. Breast milk has a lot of antibodies that build immunity.
- Do not forcefully give food to your baby. Loss of appetite is common during colds and flu.
- Your baby’s clothing during a cold and flu should be in accordance with the weather. Keep your baby warm by clothing him in layers.
- Keep your child away from daycare or school when he is unwell, especially if he has a fever.
- Feed only boiled and cooled water to prevent any other infections in the baby.
- Try the recipes on yourself before using them on the baby.
- Keep your house clean, so no one else falls ill. It is a good idea to disinfect objects that are used frequently.
- Try to feed the baby warm fluids that will help in flushing out the mucus, hydrate him, and provide him relief from the cold.
In case, in spite of trying these remedies, your baby’s health doesn’t show signs of improvement, you must take him to a paediatrician immediately. Read on to know when you must consult a doctor.
When to Consult a Doctor
When using home remedies, you must also observe your child for the symptoms given below. If the symptoms persist, you must take your little one to a doctor immediately.
- Runny nose and cough with thick, greenish and yellowish secretion.
- Sore throat and difficulty swallowing.
- Inflamed tonsils.
- Increased respiratory rate.
- Fever greater than 101 or 104 degrees for more than two consecutive days.
- A high fever (100.4 degrees or higher) in babies less than 3 months old.
- Has a fever that does not subside after taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
- Extremely drowsy or fatigued.
- Refuses to eat or drink.
- Has issues with breathing or is wheezing.
All the above symptoms are indicative of something other than the common cold and would require immediate medical attention.
The above-mentioned remedies will help provide your little one relief from cold. You could take a trial-and-error approach where you can observe which treatment your baby responds to the best. Once your child recovers from the cold and flu, it is necessary that you go into prevention mode.