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12 Natural Cold Remedies for Kids

Carol Josel
Feb. 15, 2018

Fight pesky colds the healthy way

It comes with little warning. One minute your child is romping around and the next, he's stuffy, coughing and whiny with the oh-so-common cold. With more than 200 viruses floating around, it's no wonder the cold is so common. Unfortunately, there's no easy cure; in fact, there's no cure at all. Primary care physician Jerome E. Sag, M.D. explains, "Colds have a limited shelf life, usually between four and 10 days, and pretty much go away on their own. The best you can do is deal with the symptoms which, by the way, are evidence that your body is fighting the virus."

The fact is, your child's cold, while sad to watch, will vanish in a few days, and though you may not be able to do much to cure the cold, there are ways to ease the symptoms colds produce. Todd A. Hoover, M.D., board certified in both family practice and homeopathic medicine, says providing natural remedies to patients with recurring colds can go a long way toward relieving the ills the virus causes. And you might feel more comfortable letting your babysitter or nanny administer them, before resorting to medicines. If you're hesitant about using over-the-counter medications or looking to test out some great natural remedies, always be sure to consult with your physician to let them know what you're planning on using.

  1. Rest
    Sleep is truly a great medicine, keeping us healthy in good times and helping us heal when sick. Released compounds boost the immune system, so encourage napping. Just don't layer on too many covers, as that can overheat your child, which, in turn, can elevate his or her temperature.

  2. Elevate the Mattress
    Adding a bit of lift to the mattress at the head of the bed helps sinuses drain more readily, thus adding to your child's comfort. A rolled towel or yoga mat will also do the trick.

  3. Humidifier
    A cool-mist humidifier goes a long way in relieving dry, stuffed up nasal passages by adding moisture to a room. G.K, a Philadelphia mom of two boys, five and seven, says, "I've got a humidifier in each of their rooms and turn them on at the first sign of a cold. Helps every time. I just have to remind myself to clean them after each use." She makes an important point, here. While a humidifier can help relieve congestion, mold and mildew can build up and be sprayed into the air if not cleaned properly each and every time.

  4. Fluids
    Keeping your child hydrated is essential to flush out germs, so push such drinks as water, fruit juices, herbal teas and broth. Jell-O is another option as are cooling, soothing ice pops. Milk is okay, too; that it thickens mucus is a debunked old wives' tale.

  5. Chicken Soup
    Grandma was right when she prescribed a cup of chicken soup for a cold-and the good news is, whether it's homemade or store bought makes no difference. The steam helps loosen congestion and the broth hydrates. Studies have also found that the chicken and other ingredients in the soup actually have an anti-inflammatory effect-a very good thing, since inflammation causes coughs and stuffed-up noses.

  6. Shower Steam or Warm Baths
    As said, warm moist air is an effective symptom reliever, so in addition to using a humidifier, turn on the shower and let the hot water flow. The resulting warm air will help your child breathe more easily. If your kiddo prefer baths, immersing your child in a tub of very warm water works amazingly well in reducing a high temperature.

  7. Saline Nasal Spray
    Unlike OTC decongestant nose sprays which shouldn't be used for more than three days and can actually worsen symptoms, saline nasal sprays are a simple mixture of salt and water, can be used repeatedly and can even be made at home. To make the solution, comine two to three teaspoons of salt (non-iodized) with one pint of water, and voila! You have a homemade natural remedy. Just have your child blow his nose first and then block one nostril at a time before squirting. And no blowing for several minutes afterward.

  8. Nasal Strips
    Made for small noses, Breathe Right for Kids works by lifting up the sides of the nose and offers fuss-free, stuffy nose relief. They're especially good for getting through the night and perfect, too, for kids who hate nose sprays.

  9. Gargling
    A post-nasal drip not only annoys, but also causes coughing and sore throats, too. Instead of reaching for medicated cough drops, though, simply mix ¼  teaspoon salt into a cup of very warm water for your child to gargle with. Though not a cure, it's sure to relieve the pain for a while and can be repeated as often as needed.

  10. Honey
    A 2007 Pennsylvania State University study led by Ian Paul, M.D. compared the effectiveness of a dose of dextromethorphan found in many cough syrups to buckwheat honey versus no treatment at all for coughs. The winner: honey. Just be forewarned that giving honey to a child under one risks botulism, a rare but serious form of food poisoning.

  11. Homeopathic Preparations
    Umcka Cold Care comes in several forms: drops, tablet, syrup, and powder. Says Jim Wilk, a certified nutritional counselor at Holly Hill Health Foods, "Umcka has been shown to lessen the effect of colds on kids, relieving sore throats, coughs, and congestion, too. We've had good results with it. We also stock Sambucus for Kids. It's an organic product made with black elderberry extract that works really well. It's flu and cold-oriented."

  12. Garlic
    Onion's pungent cousin contains allicin, a compound which has been known to have anti-bacterial properties. The only problem you might face is getting your kids to eat it. Try mincing the garlic very finely and additing it to a light pasta sauce at dinner time to avoid its detection.


Carol Josel, a Blue Bell, PA resident, is a learning specialist, author of three books, and examiner.com contributor. Her work can be found here.


* This article is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be providing medical advice and is not a substitute for such advice. The reader should always consult a health care provider concerning any medical condition or treatment plan. Neither Care.com nor the author assumes any responsibility or liability with respect to use of any information contained herein.

Kumkum in Paris, VA
Feb. 14, 2018

For me ginger works best in cold and dry cough. Thanks for sharing remedies to treat cold and cough. One should visit the doctor, if the remedies do not work. https://www.medylife.com/blog/...

I can't address the milk issue any more scientifically than Kishara or Joy, but I do understand that a well hydrated body produces mucus. As a singer, I avoid fatty solutions prior to performing and rely on weak tea, lemon, and honey. On rare occasions I will use a touch of my favorite distilled spirit too - but I am an adult. As a physician, holistic practice is important to me and my family, my patients benefit and I hope my family does too. I know the benefit of milk outweighs any anecdotal chemical reactions in the body, I have yet to see scientific literature regarding human breast milk, cow's milk, goat's milk, mare's milk or sheep milk causing more mucus moreso than tea or water. The benefit of the slightly acidic fluids (tea, lemon, even coffee) is that it CUTs through the basic mucus better than milk. THAT is actually a fact. When my boys are sick, and they do get sick, I hydrate them with whatever they choose to drink and notice their wet coughs increase as their hydration improves - liquid intake is the first to drop when they feel sick - and then their wet coughs diminish as the immune system completes the viral eradication and winds down. That is also a fact as both cold and flu symptoms are a sign of a robust immune system response to the intracellular viral infection. I recommend my patients take vitamin B & C when recuperating, I'm a fan of vitamin D for adults, and while I frequently take a short coarse of echinasea purpurea once I start getting post-nasal drip, I second the concern about children taking it. That is why I don't keep the tea in the house, they may try to brew some for themselves. Great success with both my boys and saline spray. Works so much better - and less risky - than 'medicinal' alpha-agonist sprays. I even recommend saline spray to my adults who want the pharmaceutical formulation, I tell them to use what they need for up to 3 days and when they are past the initial symptom pain, switch or pair with saline spray as long as they totally eliminate the pharmaceutial formulation by day 3. Had great success with that! Further, natural vitamin C (I prefer orange & spinach as sources, but all leafy greens and citrus juices are available sources here in the states) and Omega-3 compounds are great to keep one hearty. You are never too old or too young to use "food as thy medicine" and while I prefer to treat holistically, I know how quickly a raging immune response will deplete the water based vitamins in the body and augment with OTC vitamins. Keep healthy, eat close to the field, and trust evidence based medicine - it operates separate and outside of "the United states government operated and funded pharmaceutical companies" that some people blame for their ills.

Jan. 26, 2016

I second that Kishara, your so right about milk and dairy in general. It does create mucous big time. Idk how you can lie and say it doesn't, but then again that's what's wrong with the United states government operated and funded pharmaceutical companies who would rather tell us lies than the actual truth about food and drugs to get us better. It makes me sick

Oct. 23, 2014

I am studying to be a holistic nutritionist and have learned in class that milk, and dairy products, do indeed create more mucous. It is not an old wives tale, it is a chemical reaction in the body. When my boys are sick, I take them off dairy and have noticed a big difference in the amount of runny nose and wet coughs they produce.

May 17, 2014

I appreciate that honey is very helpful to us especially for child. Because when children are attacked by cold you can give them honey. Not only for children has it also worked for adult people. Otherwise honey warms our body from cold & also helps to release cough.

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