7 Natural Home Remedies for Cold and Cough in Babies
There’s almost nothing more worrisome than a sick baby. Besides not feeling well, congestion and coughing can make it more difficult for babies to get the rest they need to recover. The good news is that some natural home remedies work more effectively and safely than medicines. Let’s take a closer look at a few home remedies for cold and coughs for babies and when you should take them to the doctor.
Natural Cold Remedies for Babies
It can be more than a little disconcerting to hear your infant coughing themselves awake at night. Being prepared with a few newborn baby cold home remedies can give you some peace of mind and help soothe your little one’s discomfort. You may even want to create a little kit for yourself so that these items are easily accessible when you need them.
FridaBaby Sick Day Kit contains the tools you need to fight whatever's ailing your kiddo, all in one grab-and-go package. Suck out those stubborn boogers with NoseFrida the SnotSucker. Give baby the right dose of medicine, with MediFrida the Accu-Dose Pacifier. Clean snotty noses on the go with BreatheFrida the SnotWiper + soothe congested airways with BreatheFrida the Vapor Rub chest balm.
Push fluids when your baby is ill. When there is plenty of water in the body, the mucus the body produces becomes thinner, making it easier to flow and cough up. Breastfeed as often as they want it, or continue offering their regular amount of formula as frequently as they need it. For older babies, you can also offer water or diluted unsweetened juices.
2. Try saline drops
One of the most effective home remedies for cold in babies is using over-the-counter (OTC) saline drops in your baby’s nose. Saline drops help thin and loosen mucus, as well as keep nasal tissue from drying out. Apply two to three saline drops per nostril several times throughout the day. Your infant may hate it, or they may sneeze. Do it anyway.
3. Use suction
Whether it’s a runny nose or nasal congestion, suction is one of the most useful cold remedies for babies. A very runny nose typically indicates your baby is getting rid of a virus. Since they’re not able to blow it out on their own, suctioning can help pull the excess liquid out of their nose. A congested baby may nurse or suckle a bottle more slowly or even lose interest in eating because they’re having difficulty breathing. Suctioning before feeding can help.
After administering saline drops, use a bulb syringe or snotsucker to suck the mucus out. Remove suctioned mucus from the device, then repeat on the other side. Clean the suctioning device thoroughly before storing it. Repeat as necessary throughout the day, but keep in mind you may irritate your baby’s nostrils if you do it too often.
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4. Try honey (only for infants older than one year)
Honey has been one of the favorite natural cold remedies for babies throughout history. The honey helps thin mucus and loosen the cough. Recent research has shown that honey may be as effective as the OTC cough suppressant dextromethorphan. For babies 12 months and older, offer one-half to one teaspoon of honey (2 to 5 mL) as needed. If you do not have honey, you can try corn syrup.
5. Raise their head
Many sick babies cough more at night. Excess mucus produced in your baby’s nasal passages can drip down the back of their throat (postnasal drip). This drip aggravates the throat and can trigger a wet, bark-like cough and rattling sound in the upper airway (not the chest). This may be especially noticeable when your little one first wakes from sleeping. For older babies, elevating their head a bit may help improve their breathing at night.
It’s important to note that pillows and other sleep positioners should never be used for babies younger than 12 months. Talk to your doctor about whether propping up the head of your baby’s crib mattress to help sleep better is an option. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission advises against the use of sleep aids, such as car seats, bouncers, and other inclined products, that place younger babies at an incline greater than 10 degrees. This can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
The Tutti Bambini CoZee Bedside Crib has been designed to help you develop that special bond with your little one and can also be used as a standalone crib. You can easily adjust the height of your Cozee bedside crib with 6 different height positions. You can even position one side higher than the other to help relieve the symptoms of reflux and congestion.
6. Eliminate allergy and asthma triggers
Outdoor and indoor air irritants can trigger cough and cold-like symptoms. Mold, dust, smoke, and pet hair can all be culprits. You may want to have allergy testing done if you suspect this may be the issue. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also advises not taking little ones outdoors on days with poor air quality. To improve your indoor air quality at home, consider:
- using hypoallergenic mattress covers and pillow covers
- preventing pets from accessing sleep areas
- maintaining a home humidity level of around 40 to 50 percent
- cleaning with a vacuum that has a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA)
- running an air purifier with a HEPA filter
- not smoking indoors or near your baby
7. Run a humidifier
Creating a more humid, moist air environment can also make help relieve your baby’s cough and cold. Close your bathroom door and run hot water in the shower for about 10 to 15 minutes, and let the steam build. Then sit in the room with your baby, gently patting their back and chest to help loosen congestion. You can also try running a humidifier to add moisture to your baby’s bedroom. Be sure to regularly clean it per the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure safety.
It can be challenging to keep up with all the cleaning and sanitizing you need to do around the house. But with the Safety 1st Stay Clean Ultrasonic Tabletop Humidifier, we’ve made things a bit easier for you. It stays clean, requiring less work from you, with a little help from Vyv’s antimicrobial LED technology that kills 99.9% of bacteria and prevents mold growth.
When to Call the Doctor for Baby’s Cold or Cough
Regardless of the cause of your child’s cough or cold, there are some symptoms that require immediate medical attention. If your baby is coughing and has any of the following symptoms, consider going to your local emergency room (ER):
- labored breathing
- shortness of breath
- coughing up blood
- difficulty swallowing
- a fever higher than 100.4°F (38°C) in children under 3 months or higher than 102.2°F (39°C) in children over 3 months
- trouble opening their mouth the whole way
- substantial one-sided tonsil swelling
Other symptoms that may be cause for concern include:
- any cough in newborns 2 weeks old or younger
- a cough lasting 8 weeks or longer
- a cough that gets progressively worse, particularly after 3 weeks
- a cough accompanied by night sweats or weight loss
- any cough — wet or dry — with wheezing or rapid breathing
The Bottom Line
Babies get sick often – an average of up to eight colds annually. With time, you’ll be an expert at figuring out what helps your baby when they’re feeling bad. If you’re worried about your infant’s cough, schedule an appointment with their doctor so that they can investigate the underlying cause. Then you can better determine which home remedies may relieve your little one’s discomfort and address any other medical conditions that require professional attention.
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