Coughs, Colds & Congestion in Children

I have just been helping a friend whose daughter is sick, and realised I didnt post this article from the paper! So here are some natural ways to help with winter ailments in babes!


We’re having the sweatshirt and shoes debate again this week. Clearly the memory has passed of last week’s hail storm catching them on a sunny day at school! It’s a simple command: some type of warm garment is placed on exposed limbs before children exit the house, when the temperature is below 10 degrees.

I’ll admit I don’t understand the debate! They get into the car and whimper how cold they are, and I just want to throw my arms in the air and say, “I did tell you that!”

Arriving with the colder mornings are snotty noses and annoying coughs. Winter wellness starts with good food, exercise, fresh air, sunshine, and lots of sleep – all the basics! Ensure children are receiving enough vitamin C, try a fruit smoothie with kiwifruit and oranges (my children love my juicer too!).

But when baby or child comes down with a flu or cold, it can be a miserable few days. You feel so helpless, because cold-and-flu tablets can’t be given to babies and what else can you do?

LOADS! There are a lot of safe natural remedies you can give babies and lots of ways to help them too. Remember to always check with your doctor or well-child practitioner before trying anything new. Cough medications shouldn’t be given to children under the age of 6, except on explicit recommendation by your doctor.  

However, there are many natural ways to relieve symptoms, many remedies are timeless (just ask Grandma!). Most remedies are in your kitchen cupboard too, like for sore throats, suck on a teaspoon of honey (children over the age of 1).

When suffering from colds and congestion, help your child by raising the head of the bed. Use a vaporiser to clear nasal passages, and cut an onion and place it next to the bed. You can also give the child a warm bath in a steamy bathroom (turn the shower on hot while the child is in the bath) to loosen chest congestion. An old wives tale is to use a eucalyptus rub on the soles of the child’s feet! Finish with a NATURAL rub on chest and back.

Breastmilk in the ear will help with ear infections, while conjunctivitis can be cleared with breastmilk in the eye (liquid gold – nature’s medicine!).

Stay hydrated with clear soups, water, flat lemonade, lemonade iceblocks. On the advice of your doctor, use electrolyte solutions in times of diarrhoea and vomiting, and follow the BRAT diet – banana, rice, apples, toast/bread. Keep breastfeeding on demand.

Add lots of grated fresh garlic and ginger to soups and stews, or make a tea with lemon, ginger and honey. I’ve also made my own cough mixture by leaving two cloves of garlic in a cup of honey overnight, straining and then adding ¼ tsp ground ginger, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, and ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper. Stir well before using – I give the children a teaspoon to suck.

Add 1 drop of lemon, 2 drops of eucalyptus and 3 drops of rosemary essential oils to 1 teaspoon of a good quality massage oil such as almond, avocado or castor oil. Massage onto chest, back and sinus area.

Use homeopathic remedy ‘aconite’ at the onset of a cold (or Naturopharm’s Coldmed), and talk to your local health store for a range of remedies which are safe for babies and children, including cough elixirs and throat drops.

Make up a antibacterial sprays. For a room spray, add 6 drops of lavender oil and 3 drops of thyme oil to 2 cups of water. For a disinfectant spray, add ¼ cup of white vinegar, 6 drops of lavender oil and 6 drops of tea tree oil to cups of water and use to disinfect surfaces where needed.

Don’t forget to teach your children the basics of hygiene – cover coughs with the inside of an elbow, use tissues to blow/sneeze and throw them away, wash and dry hands well with soap, avoid sharing drink bottles/straws/cups. If doubt, never hesitate to call your doctor or healthline – 0800 611 116 – free advice, 24 hours.


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