18 Home Remedies That Cure Your Baby's Cough Without Any Medicine
14 mins read
Health & Safety for Baby
Season changes are inevitable but with it comes the dreaded cough and cold too! Unlike adults, regular cough medicines cannot always be given to babies as they may have severe side effects. But when the remedies are available in your own kitchen and home, why look further!
This season, if not love, viral infection is definitely in the air! Babies are susceptible to catching cough and cold and the recovery isn’t really easy. Moreover, when it comes to little ones, regular medicines cause more harm than good, especially for children below 2 years of age. For example, most cough syrups contain a certain amount of alcohol that is known to cause drowsiness in adults, effects of which are very prominent in babies.
How are Medicines Harmful for Treating Cough in Babies
Cold and cough in babies become a cause of worry for parents if it persists for more than a week or two. You are likely to consult a doctor for the same and give your little child over-the-counter medicines for instant relief, but no... you shouldn’t. Over-the-counter drugs can lead to serious side effects in babies. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recommend giving over-the-counter medicines to children below 2 years of age. As per the FDA, these medicines can result in life-threatening side effects in children. They also suggest abstaining from using codeine products for treating cough in children.
Watch: Treating Cough in Babies As Explained By Dr Paul
KEY TAKEAWAY: Following are the symptoms of a bad cough in children between the ages of 0 and 3 years:
If a child has a high fever or is extremely lethargic or struggling to breathe or breathing fast, then take him to doctor immediately.
If a child is breathing over 60 breaths per minute, see a doctor soon.
If a baby between 6 and 12 months of age, while being breastfed, tries to push away gasping for air, a visit to the doctor is suggested.
A viral fever or a cough during this time may pass within a week or two.
A major cause of a bad cough and congestion is a Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) which is at the peak during February and March.
To avoid RSV, stay away from indoor crowds and people who are sick.
Different Types of Cough and Their Symptoms in Babies
Relying on allopathy to treat a baby’s cough is not the most suitable solution, then what can be done? First, find out what kind of a cough it is and then proceed. Know the different types of cough in babies and their symptoms:
A Dry Cough
A dry cough is a cough when there is no release of mucous or phlegm while coughing. To understand if your baby has a dry cough or not, listen to his coughing sound. When he coughs, there will be a release of air and a loud noise. The symptoms of a dry cough are common cold, influenza, whooping cough, and GERD. Treating a dry cough actually depends on what caused it.
An Allergic cough
The symptoms of an allergic cough are runny nose, sneezing, coughing, or an upset stomach. Also, if the runny discharge from the nose is too watery, it might be an allergy. Babies with allergy are prone to respiratory viruses and it takes a lot of time in healing completely from a cough and cold.
Wet cough is often a result of a bacterial infection or cold. A wet cough is actually the mucous or phlegm stuck in a baby’s airway.
When a baby is having a hard time breathing or wakes up at the wee hours of the night and coughs, the chances are high that he has croup. It is a viral infection in which the airways contract, thereby making it difficult for them to breathe.
If a baby is having a problem in breathing or has a persistent cough or fever, then he might be having a bacterial infection which may lead to pneumonia. Similarly, after cold, if an infection develops in bronchi, then he may have bronchitis. As a result, he will have cough for many weeks.
A Whooping cough
The symptoms of a whooping cough are sneezing, runny nose, and coughing nonstop for 20-30 seconds and this cough is very loud. After coughing, he might even find difficulty in breathing. In babies, whooping cough can be severe, so it is suggested to reach out to a doctor soon.
18 Quick and Safe Home Remedies for Baby Cough
As mothers, we should be thankful to our great grandmothers and grandmothers for passing on those secret quick home remedies that help alleviate cough effectively sans any side effects. These are some tried and tested methods that seem to work when looking for a quick home fix. When it comes to children, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Warm Oil Massage: Suitable for all age groups
A universal remedy for babies of any age, warm oil massage is an excellent solution to ease out the effects of cough and chest congestion. Mustard oil, garlic, and carom seeds (ajwain) are rich in anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. Mustard oil is also a warm oil that helps with congestion. How to do it: Warm a little (about 1/4 cup) mustard oil with a few cloves of crushed garlic and massage your baby’s chest and neck area for instant relief. A pinch of carom seeds (ajwain) can also be added to the oil for better results. Make sure you also rub a little oil on the palms and feet of your baby and cover with gloves and socks respectively.
Steam: 0-3 years (Indirect inhalation)
Steam is an excellent way to help reduce coughing in babies. It not only helps in clearing chest congestion but also helps clear nasal blockage and loosen the mucus, thereby enabling in clearing the airway that can make the breathing easier. How to do it: For babies less than 3 years of age, direct steam inhalation isn’t advisable. You can create a steam room conveniently at home. Turn on the shower and close the bathroom door. Make sure you’ve set the shower in a way that it dispenses hot water, and let the room steam up. Sit in there with your baby in your lap for about 15 minutes. This should ease the coughing.
Tulsi/ Basil Leaves: 2 years onward
A reliable cure for cough that is found in every Indian household, Tulsi leaves have exceptional medicinal properties. They stimulate the production of immune cells and therefore helps build an overall immunity. Remedies involving Tulsi should only be given to babies above 2 years of age How to use it? : Soak a few tulsi leaves in water for more than an hour. Strain the water and allow your baby to take a few sips of this water at regular intervals.
Lemon and Honey Mixture: 1 year onward
Endowed with vitamin C and essential properties, lemon juice is excellent for developing immunity in kids. It also has antiseptic and antibacterial properties that help in curing cold and cough. Honey, on the other hand, soothes throat inflammation and suppresses cough in a natural manner. However, since this remedy involves honey, it should only be given to babies above 1 year as honey is known to cause botulism (a toxic illness) in infants below 12 months. How to use it? : A combination of 1 teaspoon lemon juice mixed with a few drops of honey can be added to a cup of warm water. Feed this to your baby 3 to 4 times a day.
Ginger: 1 year onward
Ginger is very effective in treating cough in babies and adults alike. It helps in increasing the blood circulation and has properties that provide warmth to the baby’s body. Once again, this remedy is applicable to babies over 12 months. How to use it? : A mixture of ginger juice and honey works very well to relieve throat distress. Mix a teaspoon of ginger juice and an equal amount of honey and give it to your baby followed by a cup of warm milk. This will help soothe a sore throat.
Another way of using ginger is by grating a piece of it and boil it with water along with a few pepper pods, 1 clove, 1 cardamom pod and a few tulsi leaves. Strain the mixture and give a few sips of this mixture to your baby at regular intervals.
Garlic and Ajwain Potli: 6 months onward
Garlic and Ajwain, both are known for their antiviral properties. When combined together, they produce excellent results in reducing chest and cough related issues. This cannot be ingested by babies as they have a very strong flavour, however, using it in a pouch does help. How to use it? : Dry roast 2 big garlic cloves and a tablespoon of ajawain on a pan. Once cooled, put these ingredients on a clean muslin cloth and tie it a pouch or a potli. Make sure the pouch is tight. Put this pouch near the baby when they sleep. The fumes emitted from this mixture helps ease the congestion.
Chamomile: 6 months onward
A mild chamomile tea can help ease a sore throat and related distress in babies. It soothes the throat and clears congestion. This remedy can be used for babies above 6 months. How to use it? : Boil a Chamomile tea bag in 2 cups of water and allow it to cool till its lukewarm. Give a few teaspoons of the tea to the baby 3-4 times a day
Turmeric Milk: 12 months onward
If you listen to your mother and mother-in-law carefully, you will definitely know there is nothing that the humble haldi (turmeric) cannot fix. Cuts, wounds or a cough, turmeric is known to be extremely effective in healing all. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties that helps soothe throat and is also replete with anti-oxidants. How to use it? : Boil a cup of milk in a vessel and add a pinch of turmeric to it. Let it cool to bring it down to a temperature suitable for your little one to sip on. It will soothe and relax your baby's throat.
Palm Sugar/ Sugar Candy (Mishri):1.5 years onward
Popularly known as 'Tal Mishri' in West Bengal, palm sugar is considered a great home remedy used to treat cough in babies and toddlers. It soothes the itching throat and provides relief from the irritation. How to use it? : Take equal amounts of black pepper, palm sugar candy (mishri), almonds and grind it to make a fine powder. Feed a teaspoon of this mixture every day to your little one or mix it in a glass of milk. You can also boil it with milk, ginger and tulsi and let your child sip this tea.
Eucalyptus Oil : 12 months onward
Essential oils like eucalyptus and peppermint help clear chest congestion and help relieve blocked nose as well. Eucalyptus oil especially is known to have various medicinal properties and is commonly used in pain relieving balms. How to use it? : It is important to note that these oils have an extremely strong scent and that's why should not directly be inhaled by babies. Put a few drops of nilgiri oil in a muslin cloth and keep it near baby's bedside for him/her to inhale. You can alternatively add a few drops in bathing water as well.
Ghee : 8 months onward
Ghee helps in strengthening bones and is quite healthy for kids. Along with this, ghee also soothes a sore throat and helps provide relief from cold. How to use it? : Melt a tablespoon of ghee and add a pinch of grounded black pepper to it. Heat this mixture for a few seconds to a minute. Give this to your baby once a day.
Cinnamon: 12 months onward
Replete with anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, cinnamon has innate warming qualities as well. This is why not only is this great tasting, but also fit for curing a sore throat and providing relief from cold. How to use it? : Take 1/4th teaspoon of cinnamon and mix it with 1 tablespoon of honey. Give this mixture once a day to your baby.
Saffron: 3 to 6 months old
Saffron helps in curing chest congestion, cold, and fever. Usually, a saffron paste is applied on the forehead of babies for a quick relief from cold. How to use it? : Take a pinch of saffron and grind it and mix it in water to make a paste. Apply this paste on baby’s chest, throat, forehead, and below his feet at night. This will provide him relief from cough and chest congestion.
Vapo rub: 2 years and above
Vapo rub is known to cure chest congestion and cold in babies. Vapo rub breaks down the mucus and opens up the airways and soothes the congested chest. How to use it? : Apply vapo rub on the bottom of your baby’s feet at night and cover his feet with a warm pair of socks.
Warm liquids: 6 months onward
Giving babies warm liquids can relieve congestion in them. Chicken soup is also suggested for babies to treat cold and cough. Kids who are not in the stage of eating solid foods, you can give them broth, it works just fine. How to use it? : Give warm liquids like soup, chicken soup, or broth.
Breastfeeding the baby: Below 6 months
Breastfeeding a baby is the perfect cure for treating cold and cough. Since babies below 6 months of age do not eat solid food, so its best to breastfeed them. Breastfeeding the baby improves his immunity and helps in fighting bacteria and virus. How to use it? : Put a few drops of breastmilk in your baby’s nostrils, it will cure cough much sooner than you can imagine. But do consult a doctor before you proceed with this.
Elevating the head: 12 months and above
Elevating the head of a child is a simple cure for all his cough-related problems. As you elevate the head of your child, they breathe more comfortably. How to do it? : If your baby still sleeps in a crib, you can put a slim pillow or a towel under the head of the mattress of his bed. This will provide him relief soon.
Saline drops is actually salt water. Saline drops are effective in providing relief from cough and congestion. Saline drops loosen the mucous and are safe to use. Saline water can also be prepared at home. How to use it? : Gently elevate the head of your baby and put drops of saline water in your baby’s nostrils. Be careful while putting it in your baby's nose Babies keep moving their head, and if you don’t pay attention the liquid will flow out of his nose.
Apart from these age-old tested remedies, putting a humidifier in the baby’s room will make the air moist and help your baby breathe easily. Make sure to always elevate your baby’s head as this too helps them breathe better. Additionally, keep their hands sanitized and make sure you always keep them warm.
It is important to remember that home remedies should be given preference during nascent stages and not when a cough has aggravated. The moment your baby starts showing signs of slight throat discomfort, you can try these remedies. However, in case his/her condition is severe or the home remedy practices show no sign of improvement within 48 hours and your baby's cough increases, seek medical help immediately.
Have you tried these home remedies for your baby? Share your experience with other moms by leaving a comment below!