Home Remedies for Cold Symptoms

This is the time of year when kids have the sniffles and we all want advice to make our little ones more comfortable. In light of the recent removal of cough and cold medicines from store shelves (for children under 2 years) and an FDA panel recommendation against giving over-the-counter cough and cold medicines to children under 6 years, what’s a parent to do?

  • When your child has a cold, make sure he/she gets plenty of rest and drinks extra fluids (water; herbal teas–chamomile or mint, even at room temperature, for those over 6 months; Pedialyte).
  • Consider using saline nose drops to soften nasal mucus and temporarily dry up mucus membranes. Drops can be purchased or made at home (1/4 teaspoon of uniodized salt to 4 ounces or 1/2 cup of warm water). Use 2-3 drops per nostril at least four times a day or as often as needed for kids over 1 year. Children under age 1 need only one drop at a time.
  • Use a suction bulb (small rubber bulbs with plastic tips work best) or the nosefrida (www.nosefrida.com) to clear the nose of a child too young to blow his own. Help or encourage an older child to blow his or her nose.
  • Protect the skin around stuffy noses with Shea butter, Aquaphor, or Vaseline.
  • If your child has a fever, read our Fever Phobia section. Consider giving him/her a tepid bath; don’t overdress/bundle your child if he or she is has a fever; ensure good liquid intake.
  • Sore throats can be ameliorated (in children over 1 year) with chicken soup, lemon and honey mixed in equal quantities and heated until warm, herbal teas with honey and lemon.
  • A recent study found that dark honey was as effective at curbing cough as OTC medicines marketed for cough.  A spoonful of honey at bedtime, or upon awakening due to cough, is worth trying for children over 1 year of age.
  • Contact your pediatrician at the first signs of fever/illness for infants 4 months or younger.