It's hard on anybody to have a cold, but it's especially tough on babies and children.
Here are some simple natural remedies to help kids feel much better when they have a cold, and help speed healing.
First of all, make sure your child gets lots of rest and lots of liquids. If your little one is still breastfeeding, be sure to offer the breast often. Breast milk is the perfect source of nutrition and it will also pass on antibodies to help beat the cold virus.
Older kids can enjoy homemade broth soups, real fruit juices and homemade fruit juice popsicles. Also keep a bottle of water nearby and encourage your child to drink lots.
Be sure your child stays in bed and sleeps often. A cozy bed or a pampering spot on the couch can help.
If your child is congested, try these remedies:
- Encourage your child to sleep with her head raised to help her breathe more easily as she sleeps. Older kids can sleep with extra pillows. Babies can sleep upright on your chest or in your arms.
- If your baby is very congested and has trouble breathing, you can use a bulb syringe to gently suction her nose. You can also drop a few drops of breast milk in each nostril before suctioning to help thin and clear baby's nose.
- Steamy bathrooms can help clear nasal passages. You can hold your baby in your arms while soaking in a hot bath, chest to chest, or you can simply hold your baby in the bathroom while running a hot shower to steam up the room.
- Run a cool mist vaporizer in the room.
- Your child can drink sage tea up to three times daily to break up congestion.
- Avoid dairy products, which can increase and thicken mucus. Also limit fats, which are harder for your child's body to digest.
View the video for more about how to treat congestion in a baby, and how to use a bulb syringe to suction baby's nose. (Note: instead of the petroleum jelly on the tip of baby's nose that the video suggests, you can use a natural oil like coconut oil or even olive oil.)
If your child has a sore throat, try these remedies:
- Children over 12 months can take a spoonful of honey. Honey naturally soothes sore throats and also contains natural antibiotics and antivirals.
- Hot soups, herbal teas and cold popsicles can help soothe sore throats. See if your child prefers heat or cold to help the discomfort. Chamomile tea can also help your child rest.
If your child has a cough, try these remedies:
- Again, avoid dairy products, as these can be mucus-forming.
- Vitamin C, menthol and zinc lozenges can help reduce inflammation and infection, boost the immune system and soothe the throat. Look for sugar-free, natural varieties. Be sure your child does not take more zinc lozenges than recommended on the package, as high doses can cause nausea and vomiting.
- Marshmallow root, licorice, coltsfoot, mullein, slippery elm root and lungwort herbal teas are all said to help treat coughs. You can also try a tea made of thyme and sage to clear mucus.
- Your child can take a warm bath with a few drops of sage, thyme or eucalyptus essential oils added to the water. Breathing in the vapors can help soothe your child's throat and calm the cough.
- Remember to encourage your child to drink plenty of liquids. Warm and hot liquids are particularly helpful.
To help support your child's immune system:
- Limit your child's consumption of refined sugar, which weakens the immune system.
- Give your child a chewable probiotic supplement and natural vitamin supplement. Vitamins A,C,E,and zinc can be helpful in recovering from colds.
- Give your child elderberry syrup three times a day, especially if you have concerns about the cold developing into a respiratory infection. Here's the simple recipe our family uses, which uses elderberries, honey and water. You can make the syrup up with maple syrup for children under 12 months.
- You can give your child echinacea and/or goldenseal extracts three times a day to stimulate the immune system.
- Garlic is antibacterial and antiviral, and helps detox the body. You can chop fresh garlic and put it in a spoonful of honey if your child will take it that way (two or three times per day) or you can purchase garlic capsules.
- Ginger tea can help increase perspiration, cleanse the body and reduce the intensity of a cold. It can be taken every four hours as needed.
Also consider giving your child Anas barbariae (commonly sold under the brand name Oscillococcinum) . This homeopathic remedy has been well-recommended around the world for years and it can be found in many drug stores and in the pharmaceutical departments of most large stores. Give "Oscillo" at the first sign of a cold and continue dosage as recommended on the package.
Remember, the common cold does not require antibiotics for treatment. Colds are viruses, which do not respond at all to antibiotics. However, if your child's cold progresses into an infection such as a sinus infection or respiratory infection, your doctor may recommend antibiotics to treat it. Some signs of infection include high or recurring fevers, nasal discharge that's thick and discolored, or a cold that persists for two or more weeks.
The good news is that with a healthy lifestyle and diet, you can help protect your child from catching many colds and minimize their symptoms.
Be sure to see the suggested articles below for more ways to help keep your family healthy.
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