5 Natural Ways to Soothe Your Child's Cold by Melissa Cates

My family has really hit the jackpot this week. Yes, we have scored an all-inclusive trip to Cold and Sinus-land for an as yet undetermined number of days and nights. We have unlimited runny noses, multiple symptoms, and the family-unfriendly fun just keeps coming. (Cute metaphor, eh? I thought so…)

Here’s the icky thing about babies/kids and colds: it is the saddest thing in the world to watch the little body you love most in the world be slowed down, in pain, and (for babies) unable to explain to you where and how it hurts. The other icky thing is that there is no medication that you can give a child for cold/flu symptoms. I’m not a big pill popper, but when I am really sick, I absolutely take the medications that will help me feel better and allow me to keep up with my life. For little ones, however, doctors do not advise giving any OTC cold symptom relief medication (other than acetaminophen or ibuprofen, for babies over 6 months) to children under four years of age, or even six years according to some sources. The side effects and risks greatly outweigh the benefits. 

So, we mommas are left to good ole natural home remedies to nurse our little sweeties through the sneezes and sniffles. These are effective for kids and adults alike, and since there is no comprehensive cure to the common cold, pairing these tips and tricks with your current booger-busting routine couldn’t hurt! And who knows, they just might be your return ticket back to the land of the easy-breathing, well-rested humans. 

Oh, how I’ve missed it there!

I have scoured internet and asked my pediatrician for her best advice, but it really comes down to what I’ve tried and what I think has actually worked. So, without further ado, here are my… (I wish there was a cyber drumroll to insert here)

5 Natural Ways to Soothe Your Child’s Cold

1. Rest is best. As Austin’s favorite cartoon character Daniel Tiger sings, “When your sick, rest is best. Rest is best!” I literally sing it to A when he is sick and needs to settle down and do some calmer playing. Little bodies need to conserve their energy for fighting those pesky germs. Break out the crayons, puzzles, and books to keep them entertained but relatively still. Speaking of Daniel Tiger, this is the time to let them watch an extra episode of a favorite show or play with an app on the iPad. 


2. A spoonful of sugar. Well, raw honey to be precise. Austin has been coughing with his cold this time, especially at bedtime. A teaspoon of honey mixed with a little warm water to make it easier to drink has absolutely calmed his coughing and let him fall asleep. I even read it works better than cough suppressant medicines. I will swear by this one from now on. Just make sure you brush those little pearly whites well before lights out! (Important: Do not give honey to babies under 1 year of age, as it can cause a rare but potentially fatal illness called botulism.)

3. Natural vapor rub. This one is partly effective due to nostalgia. It reminds me of my own mom rubbing it on my chest and back when I was a kid with a bad case of the stuffy sniffles. Warm (or cool) memories aside, many people swear by rubbing this on little ones’ feet at bedtime to help them breathe better at night. I certainly feel like it helps me, so it must feel good to my babes, too! I go for these natural ones with a version that is safe for kids and contains no menthol or petroleum. I can pronounce and recognize every ingredient listed. The one for adults is mintier, but the baby version contains patchouli and is delightfully aromatic. Aaaaahhhh….. (Trust me. One whiff, and you won’t be able to keep from saying it.) 

4. Steam it up. A cool mist humidifier will work wonders to keep nasal passages moist and fight a scratchy sore throat. If you are digging on essential oils, add a few drops to the water. (Keep it super clean to avoid mold growth.) Alternatively, you can run a hot shower and sit in the bathroom with your tot for 10-15 minutes. Bring in some toys to keep him entertained as long as possible. This will also help calm a coughing fit. 

5. Saline nasal spray and suction (or good old nose-blowing, for older kids). My boys are not fans of me sticking things in their noses, but I know they get immediate and immense relief from this step. I use Simply Saline baby nasal spray because it is so easy to apply. I follow a spritz to each nostril with a good suction cleaning. You can use a simple bulb syringe, but I am not going to lie, you will toss it right out with the bath water when you see how much gratifying snot comes out with the Nose Frida … Man, the things you could never imagine saying before you had kids.

(Tip: If you do have a child old enough to blow their nose, skip straight to the Puffs Plus Lotion tissues and never look back. Anything else will chafe their little sniffer. Also, apply Aquaphor or another baby-safe ointment to nostrils as needed to prevent blisters from rubbing. I learned both of these lessons the hard way.) 

I hope you find these techniques to be as effective I have. It’s so tough physically and emotionally when your child is sick, and perhaps the most important remedy we can provide is extra TLC. Sick kids don’t sleep well; they are short on patience and low on cooperation. They need our grace and unconditional love more than ever. They need us to tolerate their decreased appetites, extra tears, and moodiness with a calm and open heart. I will say, one has to appreciate the extra snuggles and rocking that busy kids allow and crave when they are feeling bad and only momma or daddy will do. 

But, now, go away germs!

Wishing you a naturally healthy weekend,