Foods to Eat & Avoid during Cold and Cough for Infants and Kids

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

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Arti Sharma (Paediatrician)
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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 infection. You must make sure that he eats the right food to get him immune system back on track. Read this article to find out which foods you can give (and avoid) to your child when he has a cold or cough.

Video: Foods to Eat or Avoid During Cold and Cough for Babies and Kids

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

Giving nutritious foods to a baby which can be digested easily by him would be the best option. Here are some foods you should include in your child’s diet if he has a cough or cold:

1. Breast Milk

Baby drinking breastmilk

If you have a newborn or a baby below six months of age, breast milk will be the only source of nutrition for him. Breast milk, being a good source of antibodies, 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 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 can 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 to give it to your baby. You can also puree them or make carrot soup. However, give it your baby only 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 you little one will enjoy.

9. Curd Rice

Curd Rice

If 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 idli and dosa make great comfort food and can be given to kids when they are unwell and don’t feel like eating. You can give idli or dosa 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

Being 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 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 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. 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.

21. Garlic Lentil Soup

Just like rice water, dal ka pani is good for babies. But if your baby has 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 and speed up the healing process.

22. Ajwain Water

Giving ajwain water can also relieve cough and 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.

23. Bone Broth

Bone broth is made by simmering bones and connective tissue for several hours. It is rich in nutrients like collagen, which can help to support a healthy immune system. Bone broth can be served independently or used as a base for soups and stews.

24. Soup With Turmeric

Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. For flavour and health benefits, you can add turmeric to soups, stews, and other dishes.

25. Oats

Oats are a good source of fibre, which can help to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. They are also a good source of zinc, which is important for immune function. Serve warm oatmeal with cinnamon and honey for added flavour.

26. Chicken Soup

Chicken soup is a time-tested remedy for coughs and colds in adults and children. It is believed to reduce inflammation, soothe the throat, and provide essential nutrients that can help the body fight off infections. Chicken soup is easy to digest and provides much-needed hydration.

27. Ginger Tea

Ginger is known for its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. Ginger tea can help to soothe a sore throat, reduce coughing and congestion, and ease nausea. Simply steep fresh ginger in hot water and add honey to taste.

28. Honey

Honey is a natural cough suppressant that can help to soothe irritated throats and reduce coughing. It also has antimicrobial properties that can help to fight off infections. Add a teaspoon of honey to warm water or tea for children over one.

29. Yoghurt

Yoghurt contains live cultures that can help boost the immune system and fight infections. It is also a good source of protein, which is essential for building and repairing tissues. Choose plain yoghurt and add fresh fruit for flavour.

30. Berries

Berries such as strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are rich in antioxidants that can help to reduce inflammation and boost the immune system. They are also a good source of vitamin C, which is important for a healthy immune system.

31. Cherry

Cherries are important for a healthy immune system. They are also a good source of fibre, which can help to reduce inflammation. Include cherry in your diet for good immunity.

32. Quinoa

Quinoa is a good source of protein, which is important for building and repairing tissues. It also contains fibre and vitamins that can help to support a healthy immune system. Serve quinoa as a side dish for dinner.

These are some recommended food for kids during cold and cough, which you can give and relieve.

Foods to Avoid During Cold and Cough

You should avoid including certain foods 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. 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 with a cold or cough.

2. 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 sticking pieces in his throat if he coughs while eating. So it’s best not to give dry fruits and nuts. However, you can give them in powdered form – add the powder to his milk and porridge when he is sick.

3. Spicy and Oily Foods

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

4. Dairy Products

Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yoghurt can thicken mucus and worsen cough and cold symptoms. Avoid giving dairy products to children who are experiencing cold and cough.

5. Processed Foods

Processed foods like chips, crackers, and pre-packaged snacks are often high in salt and preservatives, dehydrating the body and worsening cough and cold symptoms. Choose whole, unprocessed foods instead.

6. Fried Foods

Fried foods are high in fat and can be difficult to digest, worsening cough and cold symptoms. Avoid fried foods instead of baked, grilled, or steamed foods.

7. Sugary Drinks

Sugary drinks like soda and juice can dehydrate the body and weaken the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight off infections. Avoid sugary drinks and, instead, opt for water or herbal tea.

The above-mentioned food for babies in cold and cough should be avoided, and you will be good to go! 

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 six months and younger should be breastfed or given formula if they have a cold and cough.
  • Babies 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, give it to your child as and when required.
  • If your baby does not want to eat something, give him what he wants. Do not force-feed your sick child.
  • If your baby is above six months old, ensure he stays hydrated. Offer him different types of fluids. These can include water, milk, broth, and fresh fruit juice made with slightly warm water.

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


1. Colds in children; PubMed Central;; October 2005

2. Foods and Drinks to Avoid or Limit; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;; May 2022

3. Mayo Clinic Staff; Cold remedies: What works, what doesn’t, what can’t hurt; Mayo Clinic;; June 2022

4. Sanu. A, Eccles. R; The effects of a hot drink on nasal airflow and symptoms of common cold and flu; Rhinology; PubMed;; December 2008

5. Rennard. BO, Ertl. RF, Gossman. GL, et al.; Chicken soup inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis in vitro; Chest; PubMed;; October 2000

Also Read:

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

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