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

A baby coughing

Your child being sick, even if it is just the common cold and cough, can be tough for you as well as the little one. It is possible that your child might have a poor appetite during this time and refuse to eat well. But not getting adequate nutrition can slow down his body’s natural response to fight an infection. 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 food that can be digested easily is the ideal diet for your child when he or she is sick. Here are some good foods for children with cold and cough:

1. Breastmilk

A mother breastfeeding her baby

For newborns and infants under six months of age, breastfeeding is the best choice when he is sick. Breastmilk is a good source of antibodies and boosts immunity of a child. Check to see if your baby is congested before you begin feeding 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. Apple Sauce

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 over six months, 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 promote immunity. 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

It is well-known that carrots have medicinal properties. Carrots can enhance the immune system and keep away bacteria and viruses. Steam and mash the carrots, make a puree or soup for children over 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 get rid of a cold and cough in babies older than six months.

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. When your child has a cough or a cold, ensure that the curd is at room temperature and not too cold or sour.

10. Idli and Dosa

Steamed idlis and dosas make great comfort food when your child is unwell. These can be served at any time of the day for children who are eight months or older. You can also offer chutney or some homemade jam as a dip.

11. Sabudana Recipes

Also known as sabo, this is a good source of starch and can give your child a dose of energy. Being easy to digest, it is a preferred choice when children are sick. You can make a variety of dishes, such as sabudana porridge, serve it mixed with vegetables or you can simply use the water. It is good for babies aged seven months or older.

12. Broccoli

Packed with antioxidants, broccoli is a good pick for combating infections. It energizes the body’s immune system and is suitable for children over eight months. Soups and purees are some ways of incorporating this vegetable into your child’s diet.

13. Tomato Soup

Tomato soup is liked by people of all ages; it can be given to children older than eight months. It constitutes a healthy dose of Vitamin C and you can also mix some mashed rice in it before offering it to your baby.

14. Mashed Potatoes

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

15. Dalia Porridge

Being a soft food, it can be swallowed easily, especially if your 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

Juices made from citrus fruits like oranges and lemons are useful in preventing 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 over the age of one year.

17. Turmeric Milk

A little turmeric powder mixed into warm milk with a dash of pepper acts as a natural antibiotic to cure all kinds of colds as well as throat infection in babies who are 1 or above.

18. Mushroom Soup

Mushroom soup

The health benefits of mushrooms are plenty, and their ability to keep infection away is well known. Hot mushroom soup is great comfort food for toddlers with 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 when your child is feeling unwell. Suitable for children over a year old, it can also be made with nuts.

20. Fruits and Vegetables with Vitamin C

If you have been wondering about what to feed a toddler with a cold, you can include all kinds of fruits and vegetables that contain Vitamin C to raise the production of antibodies and white blood cells. These fruits and vegetables help in fighting infections.

Foods to Avoid during Cold and Cough

There are also some foods that you can steer clear of when your child has a cold and cough. This is because some fruits and vegetables are likely to have a cooling effect and 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 1 year old. You can reduce the quantity of milk your child consumes or stop it altogether during the time he is sick. You can also offer him other forms of dairy products such as cheese or use soy milk during this period.

2. Certain Fruits


When your child has a throat infection, avoiding some fruits such as grapes, bananas, lychee, watermelon, tender coconut, and oranges can speed up the recovery process. This is applicable to children above the age of six months.

3. Some Vegetables

Vegetables such as cucumber, bitter gourd, and pumpkin are not recommended for children under the age of one, primarily due to the cooling effect they have on the body. Hence these vegetables should be avoided to get rid of a cough in toddlers and children.

4. Refined Sugar and Sweets

Too much sugar is not good for anyone, especially for babies and toddlers. Thus, it is definitely among the foods to avoid during a cough for babies.

5. Dry Fruits and Nuts

A bowl of dry fruits

One reason to avoid dry fruits and nuts when your child has a cold and cough is due to the difficulty in chewing. Also, there is the risk of pieces getting stuck in your child’s throat if they cough while eating, particularly in children under the age of two.

6. Spicy and Oily Foods

Food that is spicy or has a lot of oil content can irritate the throat and worsen your child’s cough and cold. Thus, it is best to avoid them.

7. Curd

Curd has a cooling effect on the body and is to be avoided in times of cold and cough or other respiratory infections.

Tips on Feeding Your Baby and Toddler with Cough and Cold

Babies and toddlers who are feeling unwell are bound to get cranky and may fuss when eating. Here are a few things you can keep in mind while trying to ensure your sick baby gets the required nourishment:

  • Babies aged six months and younger should be offered only breastmilk or formula if they have a cold and cough.
  • Older babies can be fed small meals frequently instead of big meals thrice a day. See that the food can be digested easily.
  • If your baby’s doctor prescribes Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) to your toddler, be sure to offer it to your child as required.
  • If your baby is fussy about eating, offer him what he wants to eat. Do not try to force any food on your sick child. For instance, instead of a meal, you could offer an apple during cold for babies.
  • Ensure that your baby or toddler older than six months is 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 to follow when your child is down with cold and 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 that is not run of the mill. Also, do not introduce any new foods while your baby is ill as these can aggravate the symptoms or cause allergies making matters worse. Be sure not to refrain from consulting a 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 they need 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
Effective Home Remedies for Cold & Cough in Babies
Home Remedies for Children’s Colds and Flu
How to Deal with Dry Cough in Babies