Common cold affects babies worldwide. Adults have colds too, but babies are more at risk as their immunity isn’t fully developed yet. Naturally, the parents are worried. They will go to a pediatrician, and administer drugs to provide relief. AAP or the American Academy of Pediatrics has however warned that over-the-counter drugs cannot treat colds and coughs in babies, and can even be dangerous for infants below the age of six years. We have to be careful about the remedies for baby cold that we choose.
Why do babies suffer from cold so often?
Babies can fall ill throughout the year, but there is a higher risk during the winter as the cold air can dry nasal membranes and make it easier for the cold virus to attack the babies’ immune system. Indoor heating will also lead to nasal membrane dryness.
There could be an attack from many fronts. Researchers have discovered that there are more than 200 viruses that can cause common cold in a child. Children can catch a cold between six to ten times in a year. In comparison, an adult gets cold about two or three times. Children at a daycare center are at a higher risk.
How do you know if your baby has a cold, and not allergies, flu, or another illness?
This can be the tricky bit. When a baby catches a cold, he can have a running nose. The mucus may turn yellow or gray and can thicken over the next few days. Your child may even have a low-grade fever and a cough.
If the baby has a fever, take note of when it comes down. He probably has a cold if he is eating and playing normally. However, if he is ill even though the temperature is down, then it is probably not a cold.
If the baby has a flu, he may vomit or have diarrhea. With common cold, on the other hand, there will be coughing or congestion before a fever.
Symptoms of Allergy in Babies
- Watery nose and eyes
- The eyes may itch
- There could also be repeated attacks of sneezing, and this could last for months in some instances
- The mucus from his nose will run clear. It won’t turn green or yellow like what happens in a cold
It is very rare that an allergy will give your child a fever.
Symptoms of Common Cold in Babies
Babies with common cold may have
- A fever
- Reddened eyes
- Running nose
- A sore throat
- Restlessness and irritability
- Appetite loss
- Swollen lymph nodes.
Your child may find it difficult to breathe if his nose is stuffed. There will be problems in feeding when this happens. Also, babies cannot blow their noses, so you must help them clear the mucus growth.
Approach a doctor immediately if the baby is younger than three months. Colds are usually just a nuisance, but in newborns, it may quickly develop into pneumonia, croup, or some other serious condition. It is essential that you read the symptoms early.
Call your doctor if your baby is older than three months and,
- Has a temperature higher than 100.5 F
- Is wetting fewer diapers
- Has a persistent cough or red eyes
- If there is a green and thick nasal discharge
- Isn’t nursing or accepting fluids
- Is facing problems in breathing
- Cries out alarmingly
- Has become irritable
The Causes of Baby Cold
Common colds are infections of the nose, throat, and mouth. These areas are medically called the upper respiratory tract. There are more than 200 viruses that can cause cold.
- Air – Colds spread when an infected person, coughs or sneezes. The virus gets into the air and it can be inhaled by everyone close enough. As immunity of babies are yet not fully developed, they catch the air borne virus easily and suffer from cold. Make sure that you cover your mouth when you cough. Also, wash your hands after blowing the nose.
- Direct contact – It can be transmitted when an affected person touches the hand of your baby. The baby catches a cold when he touches his mouth, nose or eyes.
- Surfaces that are contaminated – A few viruses can live on surfaces for a couple of hours or even longer. It can get into your baby if he touches the contaminated surface, like a toy for instance.
Risk Factors of Cold in Babies
There are a few factors that can put children at higher risk.
- Immunity – The immune system of infants are not as matured as adults. They have not yet developed resistance to many viruses that cause the common cold.
- Time of the year – Both adults and children are at a higher risk during the winter.
- Exposure – Children like to spend time with other kids, and many of them don’t wash their hands carefully or cover their sneezes and coughs. This will increase the risk of your baby catching the common cold.
13 Sure-shot Remedies for Baby Cold
You may not treat a cold because it will go away on its own in a few days. However, you will still want to provide relief to your little one. What you can do is treat the symptoms.
Antibiotics do not work for cold symptoms as they just kill bacteria. They fail with a virus attack. Over-the-counter drugs can cause serious side effects in children. The Food and Drugs Association (FDA) has advised against the use of these drugs on children less than four years of age. Luckily, there are some wonderful home remedies for baby cold that provide quick relief.
1. Ginger Tea
You can give him this tea if your baby is a little grown up. But make sure that the tea is lukewarm and not hot. Ginger will be delicious and a little spicy. There are many healing benefits of its aromatic constituents. The tea will provide relief from congestion and clear the nasal passages. Mucous will flow out. Breathing in the steam vapor will also help loosen the congestion.
You can store this tea for 24 hours.
- Ginger root grated fresh – 6 to 8 teaspoons
- Cinnamon – just a pinch (optional)
- Lemon juice – few drops (optional)
- Honey – half teaspoon (optional)
- Boiled water – 2 cups
- Keep the ginger in a glass. Sprinkle the cinnamon (optional).
- Boil the water, and pour it carefully into your jar. Cover the ginger.
- Steep for 30 to 40 minutes.
- Use a towel to strain as your jar can still be quite warm.
- Pour into a mug.
- Add lemon and honey (optional).
- Reheat the tea if you have to.
- Make your child sip it slowly. Make him drink it thrice daily.
2. Herbal Medicinal Syrup to Heal Cold of your Baby
Children love syrups and are more likely to take them. They can have this drink even if the throat is aching because of the cold, and even when they have lost appetite. This syrup is not just a mixture of water and sugar. It has medicinal healing properties and tastes good. Its contents, licorice root, and marshmallow root soothe sore throats and coughs. Rich in mucilage, it gives a coating for the mucous membranes. Ginger and cinnamon will offer relief from pain and clear congestion.
- Licorice root – 1 teaspoon
- Marshmallow root – 1 teaspoon
- Chopped ginger – 1 teaspoon
- Ground cinnamon – 1 teaspoon
- Raw honey – 1 cup
- Water – 4 cups
- Glass jar with sealing lid
- Mix the herbs along with ginger and cinnamon.
- Add to your saucepan with cold water.
- Simmer this mixture over low heat till it is reduced by half.
- Strain the herbs. Now pour this liquid back into your pot.
- Stir the honey in over low heat. Allow this to sit for 10 minutes.
- Take out from heat and bottle it.
Give one to two teaspoons of this syrup to your baby thrice every day till she get relief from cold. You can refrigerate the syrup for three to four weeks.
3. Decongest with Onion
Most parents won’t think of a sliced, raw onion as an air freshener for the baby’s room. However, this can be an effective remedy for cold as the onion can break up the congestion when your infant has a cold. This onion remedy works very well for a stuffy nose.
All you have to do is just slice up an onion and keep it on a plate next to your child’s crib or bed. The onion’s sulfur content will draw out the fluids and mucus from his body. If your child has a stuffy nose, the onion will loosen it up. Sure enough, there is going to be an odor in the room. But apart from this, there are no other side effects.
4. The Radish Therapy
Radish is a spicy and delightfully crisp vegetable. It has a lot of minerals and vitamins and has antiseptic properties too. Horseradish is a more powerful decongestant, but your regular garden radish will also work efficiently as remedy for baby cold.
- A single radish for your child
- Cut the radish into small pieces and serve it. Your child should have the pieces two times every day. The radish will clear away the congestion and provide relief.
- You may also refrigerate the radish for 30 minutes before serving. This will make it crispier and go down easily.
5. Steam Therapy
Steaming is a quick remedy for a stuffy nose. There are many benefits of steam when your infant breathes it from hot tea, takes a shower in hot water, or inhales it from a bowl with his head covered. Add a few drops of essential oil like peppermint, eucalyptus or tea tree oil, and the results are even better. Anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties of tea tree oil are carried through the steam. This helps in the fight against the bug that is causing the problem. Both eucalyptus and tea tree oil are strong smelling, and will dislodge the congestion that is troubling your baby.
- A heatproof bowl
- Two to five drops of tea tree oil, eucalyptus, or a combination of them
- A towel
- Boiling water
- Place the essential oils at the bottom of your bowl.
- Now pour boiling water (several cups) into it.
- Keep the face of your baby over the bowl. Keep it at a comfortable distance, but it shouldn’t be too far. Eventually, his face needs to be directly above your bowl.
- Now cover his head with a towel so that the steam gets trapped. If your baby is too small, don’t cover the head and let the face be at some more distance from the bowl.
- Tell him to take deep breaths. Allow your baby to take his head out if it gets too warm.
- Repeat this two to three times a day. See how comfortable your baby is, and adjust the amount of essential oils accordingly.
Steaming will clear up the clogged nose and provide relief from a cough. If your child cannot take steam, then give him a hot water bath. Steaming up the bathroom will also help. Keep your child in the bathroom for a while after the shower for the steam to work.
Precaution: The bowl will be hot, so make sure that your baby is not touching it. Steam can also sometimes damage the eyes. So be careful. Also, steam may make the eyes water. You can thus start with less warm water and gradually advance. A few children are not able to inhale the steam. Don’t insist. There are other remedies for baby cold too.
6. Lemon to Bring Down the Fever
Sometimes, cold is accompanied by fever. Parents get scared when the infant has a fever. But the fever may not be a bad thing. It is a symptom that something is wrong. The fever tells you that your baby’s immune system is working. However, the fever will still give the parent sleepless nights, as the baby will be uncomfortable. Any shivering will make it worse.
There is a way to bring down the fever quickly.
- Take a lemon and slice it over a bowl of lukewarm water so that you can capture the aromatic oils of the fruit.
- Now take a cotton cloth and soak it in the water.
- Give the infant a sponge bath with the lemon water.
The lemon’s cooling properties and evaporating water will bring down the fever. But do ensure that the water isn’t too cold or hot.
7. Herbed Milk Remedy for Baby Cold
Children should drink milk every day. So serve milk if your baby is not lactose intolerant. But did you know that milk can reduce coughing and other symptoms of cold? There are those who believe that milk increases mucus production. This is just a myth. Milk is even more beneficial to your baby if you combine it with spice herbs like ginger powder and turmeric.
- Turmeric powder – one-fourth teaspoon
- Ginger powder – half teaspoon
- Milk – 1 cup
- Bring the milk to boil.
- Now add the ginger powder and turmeric powder.
- Let it cool. Bring it down to room temperature otherwise it can burn his mouth.
Your child should drink this milk twice daily. Serve it once before he goes to sleep.
8. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apples have powerful antiviral and antibacterial properties. Apple cider vinegar or even apple juice can help a lot in fighting cold and its symptoms. The human body is more susceptible to bacteria and viruses when it is in an acidic state. Apple cider vinegar’s alkalizing properties will balance the pH level of his body, and help your baby fight the symptoms of cold.
- Apple cider vinegar – 2 teaspoons
- Lemon juice – 1 teaspoon
- Honey – 1 teaspoon
- Hot water – 1 glass
- Heat the water. But make sure that it is not too hot for your baby.
- Now mix the apple cider vinegar, honey and lemon juice together.
- Serve this two to three times in a day.
You can also make your baby gargle with this apple cider vinegar fluid. It will work faster if the concoction is strong.
9. Salt Bath for Baby Cold Remedy
Create a blend of scented bath salt to clear your child’s congestion. The salt’s aromatherapy and the relaxing warm bath will do the trick. You can even mix and match with ingredients that your baby loves so that he enjoys this. There is always a personal favorite.
- Epsom salt – 1 cup
- Eucalyptus oil – 3 drops
- Peppermint oil – 3 drops
- Lavender oil – 3 drops
- One small dish where you will blend
- One airtight container
- Pour the Epsom salt into the container.
- Blend the essential oils in the dish.
- Now add oils into the salt.
- Stir well with a spoon.
- Fill the bath tub half way with warm water and add two to three teaspoons of the salt. Now fill the rest of the tub.
- Let your baby soak in this water for 5-10 minutes.
- Always monitor your baby while he is in the bath tub, never leave him alone.
Turmeric has a compound called curcumin that has powerful anti-inflammatory properties to soothe a cough and unblock chest congestion. Turmeric also works as an antiviral and antibacterial agent to fight viral infections, cold and cough.
- Mix two teaspoons of turmeric powder in a glass of lukewarm water.
- Make your baby drink this two times daily till the cold goes away.
11. Increase Fluid Consumption of your baby
Serve your baby extra fluids when he is ill, especially when he suffers from cold and flu. Babies older than six months can drink water and fruit juice. The fluid intake will keep his mouth and nose moist and prevent dehydration. Extra fluids will also thin out the mucus and so his nose won’t be as stuffy. Drinks like milk, juice, and water are fine. Hot chocolate, apple cider or chicken soup will also work. These drinks will soothe his sore throat.
12. Mullein Tea
The mullein tea is one of many remedies for baby cold that work well. The tea has expectorant properties that can provide relief from chest congestion.
- Dried mullein herb
- A strainer
- Boiling water
- Fill your strainer with the mullein herb.
- Keep it in a cup of boiling water for 5-10 minutes.
- Let it cool for a while before serving.
- You can also add 1 teaspoon honey before serving.
Serve this tea two to your baby three times daily.
13. Elderberry Syrup
Elderberry works well for anything related to cold. It can lessen the inflammation in your baby’s mucus membranes, thus making it easier for him to breathe. Elderberry will offer relief from congestion. It can shorten the cold’s duration and keep his immune system healthy so that you reduce the risk of a future attack from cold virus. When your baby has cold his throat is likely to be sore because of all that coughing. Elderberry’s mucilage constituent will help his throat heal. But make sure that you use only black elderberry, as the others can be toxic. Raw elderberries are to be avoided in any form.
- Dried elderberries – half cup
- Water – 3 cups
- Honey – 1 cup
- Put water and the berries in your saucepan and boil it.
- Now reduce heat and allow it to simmer for 45 minutes.
- Use the strainer to strain this liquid.
- Push extra liquid out of your berries with the back side of your spoon.
- Add a little bit of raw honey once it has cooled to room temperature.
- Stir well so that it combines thoroughly.
Give your child one teaspoon every day till his cold is gone. But remember, you should not serve honey to children who are less than a year old. You can refrigerate this syrup for up to three months.
All the above remedies will work very well for baby cold. These home remedies work without any side effects and will efficiently cure your baby’s sore throat, remove the congestion, reduce his cough and help you fight the other symptoms. These are all gentle and safe home remedies for baby cold. The ingredients you need for these remedies are available readily. So you can prepare them easily.
Your baby doesn’t have to suffer or take risky over-the-counter medicines anymore when he has a cold. However, see a pediatrician if the cold doesn’t go away even after a week or keeps coming back frequently.