Cold and cough is the most common reason for missing school. They are contagious throughout the year. There is no cure for the common cold. There are no antibiotics, syrups or pills. However, there are remedies in the form of relief during its short visits. It is better to provide such remedies for your infant from your kitchen than a medical shop. There are many variants that one could try and so many, that some method or the other will be available in your home.
20 Natural Remedies for Cold and Cough in Babies
There are two kinds of cold and cough:
A wet cough is the existence of phlegm in the throat and nasal area. While dry is the cold and cough without phlegm. The remedies for both sometimes differ. It is necessary to diagnose the cold and cough before providing a remedy for it.
One does not acquire cold and cough through food but air and, a touch of another infected person. Cold weather also, does not create infections within the babies out of thin air. However, it becomes a good breeding environment for the same. So, the first and foremost to do is to maintain hygiene and sanitise hands regularly. And, if your baby gets a cold or a cough then try these natural remedies for cold and cough in babies before you jump the gun.
Important: As children grow, the immune system, digestive system and respiratory system also develop. Remedies meant for a new-born will not suffice for a one-year-old. However, some remedies surpass age and brackets new-borns to a fully-grown adult.
Remedies for New-Borns
1. Breast Milk
No remedies, no cure is greater than the only natural food for a new-born human – the breast milk. It works as the remedy for any infection for baby within six months. Regular feeds also help comfort a cranky baby who does not understand anything other than sense the touch of their mother.
2. Nasal Drops
This is very good for babies who have blocked nose. Your paediatrician will help you with the 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. This is done so that the saline does not ooze out. Also, use homemade saline in case of an emergency only since it is prone to bacteria.
3. Nasal Aspirator
If your child is suffering from heavy nose blockage and, this is a regular affair every time your baby is infected with a cold. It will do good to invest in a nasal aspirator. As the baby is too young to consciously sneeze, nasal aspirators will quickly suck out the mucus without irritating or causing harm to the baby.
Turmeric or Haldi is the healing power for centuries. Even today it becomes an important ingredient in Indian remedies. Mix a little turmeric with warm water to make a smooth paste, apply this on baby’s chest, forehead and sole of the feet. Wash it away after some time. The heat from the turmeric will help in diluting the mucus and oozing it out.
5. Warm Mustard Oil Massage
Warm a cup of mustard oil with two cloves of garlic and a few Kalonji seeds (Nigella Sativa). Massage it on baby’s feet, Chest, back and palms. Wipe away excess oil with a muslin cloth.
Remedies for babies around nine months
6. Jaggery, Cumin, Black Pepper And Warm Water Concoction
This concoction calms cold, cough and sore throat.
Mix all ingredients and bring the water to 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 that is good for babies in small proportions.
7. Infused Coconut Oil Massage
- 1/2 cup of coconut oil
- 1 pearl onion,
- 2 to 3 tulsi leaves
- 1 betel stem.
Heat the coconut oil and put the other ingredients. When the ingredients are warm enough switch off the stove. Let it cool and, at lukewarm temperature apply it on baby’s chest, back foot and palms.
Note: Though the common practice is to add a pinch of camphor, it is not recommended to use camphor for children under two years. Research says that camphor is too strong and pungent and will create more mucus. This is body’s way of shielding itself from pungent smells.
Remedies for Babies above one year
8. Honey Combinations
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 source to fight germs of cold and cough. Honey can be combined with pepper, dry ginger, lemon juice.
- 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 good 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 honey to it. This is a tasty remedy and usually is consumed with joy. It also relieves both a cough and cold.
Feed a teaspoon every morning, noon and evening. They can even be more than thrice a day. You will notice a clearer nose and lesser coughs soon.
9. Turmeric Milk
Everybody has heard of “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. One can even add jaggery for sweetness. More so, milk and turmeric make a nutrient-filled healthy snack.
10. Kichidi And Soups
It will be difficult to consume solids and hot soups, Kichidi will make excellent supplement food for children. It is calming, comforting and relieves all kinds of cold and cough.
11. Vitamin C Juice
Give the baby regular sips of juice containing vitamin c such as lemon, orange or amla. Vitamin c fights germs of cold. However, avoid this if your child suffers from a sore throat.
12. “Chukku Coffee” Or Dry Ginger Coffee
No. There is no coffee involved. Yes, you could add coffee to the rest of the ingredients for an adult, but for babies, it is excluded. This is a traditional drink originated in Kerala. This has all elements that are anti-cold and cough.
Here is the recipe for a ‘Chukku’ kaapi or Dry ginger kaapi.
- Dry Ginger (Chukku) – 1-inch piece
- Tulsi leaves – 6 to 7 (torn)
- Pepper – 2
- Jaggery – 1 tablespoon (or more if you need sweeter)
- Water – 1 cup
Coarse Crush dry ginger and peppercorn. Boil water with jaggery and, add dry ginger and peppercorns followed by the torn tulsi leaves. Let it boil and switch it off. Filter the mixture and feed the baby the lukewarm chukka kaapi.
Make babies gargle plain warm water or salt water twice or thrice a day to provide relief from a sore throat and cough. Regular practice will see quick results.
General remedies for babies of all age groups
This is a natural way to help babies become calm and relieve a blocked nose. Run the hot shower/tap in the bathroom and fill it up with steam. After closing the water, take the newborn in. The steam will be mild for you but is perfect for a newborn. Steam inhalation can also be used for older babies or children. Avoid using boiled water in tumblers. This is accident prone and could be dangerous. Invest in a steam inhalator.
15. Head Elevation
Placing the baby’s head on an elevation helps in the uninterrupted flow of breath. It helps in unblocking nose due to mucus.
16. Vicks Vapour
It is important to not use Vicks vapour for babies under the age of two. The ingredients of the ordinary Vicks will be too intense for the babies thus forcing the body to produce more mucus to shield itself from such intensity. However, for any baby above two years, one can use regular Vicks vapour. Baby Vicks is a product that is safe for babies under the age of two as it is specially made with milder ingredients. Applying baby Vicks on the sole of the feet, on the chest and back works like a charm. Avoid using too much, and this helps at night for a good deep sleep. However, for anybody above two, one can use regular Vicks vapour.
17. Infused Water
If your baby is above six months or has been introduced to drinking water then make sure the baby drinks sips of ajwain, cumin or tulsi water at regular intervals. Boil filtered water with a spoon of ajwain/ cumin seeds or tulsi leaves. Filter this water and bring it down to a lukewarm temperature before bottling it.
18. Appropriate Clothes
As mentioned earlier, the environment becomes a breeding ground for cold and cough. If the baby has only cold and coughs, it is advisable to keep them snug and warm. If they are running a temperature, then the opposite stands well. It is advisable not to add to the high temperature the baby already is suffering from. Loose thin clothes will help remove the temperature to an extent.
Keep your baby hydrated with a lot of warm water, breast milk or any other fluids. The chances are that the baby will not be comfortable eating solid food during the infected period. Fluids will help with the nutrients and also help boost the immune system.
Do not add stress to your baby. Yes, as parents we end up doing that. If the baby does not want to do something, please try something else. Also, do not force solid food but substitute it with some other soup or kichadi or fruits. The intent is to have enough calories per day. The reason is the more stressed the baby becomes, more time they will take to recover.
Some Dos and Don’ts:
- Remember to give age-appropriate remedy.
- Do not neglect the cold or a cough; this may lead to something more serious such as pneumonia.
- Do not panic or get restless when the child does not stop crying.
- Do attempt to keep remedies ready at hand reach at night.
- Do consult a paediatrician if you notice something unusual such as green mucus.
- Do not neglect high fever and consult your doctor immediately.
- Remember to use ingredients that the baby is not allergic to.
- Also, do not give any fluid colder than room temperature
Consistency is the key. Be watchful of how the methods you use are working and if something gives relief to the baby, continue with it. If something is triggering more mucus (if the intensity is too strong for the baby, this happens) avoid it.
If the cold or a cough persists more than a week, do see a paediatrician to confirm it to be a common cold and not a symptom of something else.
On a general note, remember that children are more prone to cold and cough due to lack of fully developed immune system and respiratory system. They are growing. They will catch common cold 6-12 times per year. So, it will be a regular unwelcomed guest. It will help to be prepared with herbs, steamers (age appropriate), and the first aid box of Indian home remedies for cold and cough in infants.