Foods to Eat & Avoid during Cold and Cough for Babies, Toddlers and Kids

Foods to Eat & Avoid during Cold and Cough for Babies, Toddlers and Kids

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If your bundle of joy has a cold and cough, it must be really hard for you to see him suffer. Your child may have a poor appetite during this time and he may even refuse to eat. But not getting adequate nutrition can slow down his body’s natural response to fight an infection. No doubt, you will be dead worried about your child’s health. This is why it is essential to know which foods are good for your baby during this time.

Recommended Foods for Cough and Cold for Infants, Toddlers and Children

Offering nutritious foods which can be digested easily by your little one is the best option when he is sick. Here are some foods you should include in your child’s diet when he has a cough or cold:

1. Breast Milk


If you have a newborn or a baby below six months of age, his source of nutrition should be breast milk, and breast milk alone. Breast milk is a good source of antibodies and can strengthen the immune system of a child. Check to see if your baby is congested before you start feeding your child, as congestion can prevent your infant from feeding adequately.

2. Barley Water

Suitable for infants who are at least six months old, barley water is a great remedy for a fever, cold, and cough. However, it is not suitable for children with gluten allergy and caution must be exercised if a family member has such an allergy. This is because the allergy might have been passed on to your child and you could be still unaware of this fact.

3. Applesauce

Also known as stewed apples, these are easy-to-digest and help a baby stay hydrated. They come in handy during a cough and cold as they replenish the body’s fluid supply.

4. Rice Water or Gruel

Recommended for babies who are above six months of age, rice gruel is a soothing home remedy for a cough and cold. Rice water boosts the immunity of a child thereby helping him combat any infection.

5. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a rich source of nutrients and strengthen the immune system. They also help the body in producing white blood cells. Sweet potatoes can be consumed in the form of porridge or you can mash and puree them for your little one aged six months and above.

6. Carrots

Carrots have medicinal properties and eating carrots can enhance the immune system and keep away bacteria and viruses. You can steam and mash the carrots and give it to your baby. You can also puree them or make carrot soup. However, give it your baby if he is above six months of age.

7. Pomegranate Juice

The antioxidants in pomegranate juice can help subdue your child’s cold. Make pomegranate juice and add a bit of pepper powder and dry ginger powder to it. Give it to your baby if he is 6 months or older. This juice will help provide him relief from a cold and cough.

8. Moong Dal Porridge

Moong dal porridge is a wholesome and filling food for babies suffering from cold. It can be given during lunch or dinner. Suitable for children seven months and older, it is a soothing dish that little ones will enjoy.

9. Curd Rice

Curd Rice

Once your child is over eight months of age, you can feed him curd rice with a little seasoning of ginger and cumin seeds any time he is unwell. If your child has a cough or a cold, ensure that the curd you serve him is at room temperature and not too cold or sour.

10. Idli and Dosa

Steamed idlis and dosas make great comfort food and can be given to kids when they are unwell and don’t feel like eating. You can give idlis or dosas at any time of the day to your child if he is eight months or older. You can also offer chutney or some homemade jam as a dip.

11. Sabudana Porridge

Sabudana is also known as sago; it is a good source of starch and can give your child a dose of energy. As it easy to digest, it is a preferred choice for children when they are sick. You can make sabudana porridge, serve it with vegetables, or you can simply give the water. It is good for babies aged seven months or older.

12. Broccoli

Rich in antioxidants, broccoli is a good pick for combating infections. It energizes the body’s immune system and is suitable for children over eight months of age. You can make broccoli soup or puree for your little one. He will soon feel better.

13. Tomato Soup

Almost all of us like tomato soup; it is tasty and healthy. And the good thing is that it can be even given to children older than eight months of age. It constitutes a healthy dose of Vitamin C – you can mix some mashed rice in it before offering it to your baby.

14. Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes taste delicious and can be quite filling for a baby. Made from boiled potatoes, they usually appeal to children of all ages and can be introduced from eight months onwards.

15. Dalia Porridge

Being a soft food, it can be swallowed easily, especially if a child has a throat irritation or pain. It can be made without milk to speed up the digestion process when a baby is sick. Dalia porridge can be given to babies who are eight months and older.

16. Citrus Fruits

Drinking orange juice or lemon juice can help prevent cell damage while easing congestion and thinning out mucus. Make the juice with lukewarm water and add a dash of honey. It is generally recommended for children who are one year or above.

17. Turmeric Milk

A little turmeric powder mixed in warm milk with a dash of pepper acts as a natural antibiotic and can cure a cold as well as throat infection in babies who are one year or above.

18. Mushroom Soup

Mushroom Soup

The health benefits of mushrooms are plenty, and their ability to keep infections away is well known. You can give warm mushroom soup to your baby; it is a great comfort food for toddlers with a cold and cough. It is usually given to children who have attained the age of one.

19. Poha or Beaten Rice

It is soft and can be chewed by babies easily. Poha is also easy-to-digest and makes for a filling meal, especially for a child who is unwell. You can give poha to your child if he is 1 year or older.

20. Fruits and Vegetables With Vitamin C

If your child has a cold, try and include fruits and vegetables high in Vitamin C in his diet to increase the production of antibodies and white blood cells in his body. Vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables help fight infections.

21. Tulsi Water

Tulsi or Indian basil can provide relief from a cold and cough. Boil a few leaves of tulsi in half a litre of water for about 5 minutes. Strain and give it to your child. You can give it to babies above 6 months of age.

22. Garlic Lentil Soup

Just like rice water, dal ka pani is good for babies. But if your baby is suffering from a cold and cough, you can give him garlic and lentil soup. Garlic has antiviral properties and can boost the immune system. Its antiviral properties can prevent infections as well as speed up the healing process.

23. Ajwain Water

Giving ajwain water can also provide relief from cough and can clear chest congestion. Boil a tablespoon of carom seeds in water for some time. Let it cool then strain the liquid, then give it to your baby at regular intervals.

Foods to Avoid During Cold and Cough

There are certain foods that you should avoid including in your child’s diet if he has a cold and cough. This is because some fruits and vegetables are likely to have a cooling effect and can lead to respiratory infections. These include:

1. Cow’s Milk

Cow’s milk is believed to aggravate congestion. It can be given to children who are above the age of 1 year. You can reduce the quantity of milk your child consumes or stop it altogether when he is sick. You can give him other forms of dairy products such as cheese or use soy milk during this period.

2. Certain Fruits and Vegetables

Certain Fruits and Vegetables

When your child has a throat infection, avoid some fruits such as grapesbananas, lychee, watermelon, tender coconut, and oranges to speed up the recovery process. This is applicable to children above the age of six months. Cucumber, bitter gourd, and pumpkin are also not recommended for children under the age of one, primarily due to the cooling effect they have on the body. So avoid including these fruits and veggies in your child’s diet if he has a cold or cough.

3. Refined Sugar and Sweets

Too much sugar is not good for anyone, especially for babies and toddlers. Hence, sugar and sweets laden with sugar should not be given to a child when he has a cold or cough.

4. Dry Fruits and Nuts

Dry Fruits and Nuts

Your child may find it hard to chew or swallow dry fruits and nuts if he has a cold or cough. There is also a risk of pieces getting stuck in your his throat if he coughs while eating. So it’s best to not give dry fruits and nuts to your child when he is sick.

5. Spicy and Oily Foods

Spicy or oily food can irritate the throat and worsen your child’s cough and cold. Thus, it is best to not give them to your kiddo.

6. Curd

Curd has a cooling effect on the body hence it should not be included in your child’s diet if he has a cold or cough or other respiratory infections.

Tips to Feed a Child Suffering From a Cough and Cold

If your munchkin is unwell, he is bound to get cranky and may fuss while eating. Here are a few things you should keep in mind to make sure he gets the required nourishment:

  • Babies aged six months and younger should be breastfed or can be given formula if they have a cold and cough.
  • Babies who are 6 months and above should have frequent small meals instead of big meals thrice a day.
  • If your baby’s doctor prescribes oral rehydration solution(ORS) to your toddler, be sure to give it to your child as and when required.
  • If your baby does not want to eat something, give him what he wants to eat. Do not force feed your sick child.
  • Ensure that your baby who is above six months of age stays hydrated. Offer him different types of fluids. These can include water, milk, broth, and fresh fruit juice made with slightly warm water.

These are just some general guidelines you should follow if your child is down with a cold or cough. However, if there are symptoms like wheezing or ear pain, then it is best to consult a doctor immediately as it can be an ear infection or something more serious. Also, do not introduce any new foods when your baby is ill as these can aggravate the symptoms or cause allergies, worsening the matters. Consult your doctor if your child’s condition doesn’t improve over a couple of days. Since dehydration is a possibility because of infections, so keep an eye on your child, note these early signs to ensure you can get your child the help he needs immediately.

This information is just a guide and not a substitute for medical advice from a qualified professional.

Also Read:

Cold and Cough Medicine for Infants and Children
Home Remedies for Children’s Colds and Flu
How to Deal with Dry Cough in Babies