Watching our beloved little ones sick is a heart-wrenching experience. With their immune systems still under development, the tiny tots are vulnerable to infections like common cold and cough more than the rest of us. Here we present to you some fantastic home remedies that will ease your baby.
Why not medications?
- According to Mayo Clinic, FDA has not approved OTC medications for children under 4 years of age. It is never advisable to treat children with drugs without a doctor’s advice.
- It is a widespread practice to prescribe antibiotics for cold treatment. In reality, the common cold is most often caused by viruses, not bacteria. Antibiotics have been designed to target only bacteria specifically – they do not affect viruses at all, which means we take them many times for no reason. The cold naturally gets better in a week or so, but we falsely believe that it was the antibiotic that did the magic and continues to overload the baby with unnecessary antibiotics every time the baby gets a cold.
- Fever is the body’s attempt to raise core temperature to make survival hard for germs. A mild fever with no vomiting, diarrhea, body pain, rashes or other symptoms is harmless and would help ease away the cold. Attempting to suppress the fever would only cause the germs to linger longer inside the body. Even if you give medication for mild fever, it will keep returning for a few days until the internal war against pathogens is won.
- The year 2008 saw a questionable breakthrough when FDA announced that cold and cough medications were doing more harm to babies than good. Many infant OTC cold and cough medicines were pulled off the shelf the same year. The side effects of these medications like drowsiness, rapid heartbeat and convulsions were riskier than the meagre improvement they gave to children. If you think your baby’s medications are safe just because they are prescribed, beware that the active ingredients of many drugs remain largely unchanged till date.
- On the same day, Lisa Mathis, the MD & Associate Director of FDA’s Pediatric and Maternal Health said in an interview that even the cold drugs for older children had not yet been thoroughly tested and approved. She said, ‘Always remember that these medications do not cure a cold. They don’t shorten the time your child has a cold and they are only meant to help a child’s symptoms’.
For these reasons, it is much better to use home remedies to ease your infant’s cold.
Home Remedies for Chest Congestion and Cough in Infants up to 2 months
Slightly warm about two teaspoons of virgin coconut oil in a small ladle. Keeping the oil on the stove, add a tiny half cm ginger and half cm garlic to the warm oil. Shake slightly and switch off the stove in 30 seconds, and immediately add half cm camphor to it. Let this oil cool until slightly warmer than room temperature. Rub this oil gently on the fontanelle, the tender area behind the earlobe where the jaw ends, on the chest, back, inside palms and on the soles. This warm oil will relieve congestion. Use it only twice a day. Make sure that the oil is not too hot when applying. If your baby is less than 20 days old, you can skip camphor and garlic, just a tiny piece of ginger would be enough. If you feel that the oil is too strong, you can dilute it with a little coconut oil before applying. Do not use this if you are using readymade products like Vicks or Amrutanjan balms, which by the way are not recommended for children under 2 years of age.
Homemade herbal oil is an excellent remedy to loosen up congested phlegm from the chest. Take two teaspoons of virgin coconut oil in a teaspoon. Add a tiny pinch of turmeric powder, 5 whole black peppers, half cm ginger and half cm garlic to the oil. Warm it slightly to infuse the goodness of the herbs into the oil. Remove from heat and let it cool. When the oil is slightly warmer than room temperature, remove all the ginger, garlic and pepper pieces from it. Give only the oil to your baby. You can give an infant the one or two teaspoons of the oil at one go. This oil makes some babies vomit out the phlegm; some babies get loose bowel movements – so be on guard to avoid any surprises. Do not use pepper powder instead of black pepper – newborns will not withstand the heat. If you are breastfeeding your little one, you can swallow the oil roasted ginger, garlic and pepper every time for added goodness.
If your baby has congestion, add a pinch of turmeric powder to your breastmilk and feed it to the baby. Use a tiny amount, preferably 1/16th of a teaspoon. If you are already giving your baby the herbal oil mentioned above, skip turmeric milk.
Breastmilk has found to subtly change in flavor and taste based on what you eat. You may also have noticed that some food you eat makes your baby fussy. Caffeine has been shown to pass on to little ones via breastmilk. So, for an added goodness, you could up the game as well. You can drink dry ginger tea, ginger tea, chicken soup with turmeric and pepper or dry ginger and coriander coffee (Sukku coffee) once or twice a day until your baby’s cold improves.
Home Remedies for Chest Congestion and Cough in Babies over 5 months
The Ajwain plant, also known as Oma Valli or Karpooravalli, shows good results in loosening chest congestion and cough. Take three fresh Ajwain leaves, squeeze them to extract the juice. Add honey to soften the strong flavour and give this to your baby one or two times a day.
Boil 3 to 4 tulsi leaves in half cup water for a few minutes and store this aside. Have your baby sip this tulsi water instead of normal water for a few days until cold subsides. You can also give your baby warm tulsi water for faster relief from a cough and congestion.
You can give babies older than 6 months a few spoonfuls of warm soup to ease the cold. Heat 6 teaspoons of coconut oil in a pan. Add 7 to 8 chopped shallots, 10 black peppers, a pinch of turmeric powder and sauté them for a minute. When the shallots turn translucent, add a thin slice of tomato and some salt. You can add a piece of chicken if you like or add a peeled potato and give it one more minute. Pour 2 to 2 ½ cups water and sprinkle some chopped coriander leaves. This is a mild gentle soup for babies that can be served warm two to three times a day.
The juice of betel leaf is good for relieving cold and cough. If you can grind a single leaf to extract juice, you’re done. Otherwise, steam two betel leaves for one minute and squeeze them for juice.
Home Remedies for Blocked Nose in Infants
Pillows can help drain mucus from the nose and prevent blocked nose. Use a firm pillow and place it between the mattress and the bedcover to avoid babies accidentally suffocating themselves. Create a wedge so that your baby is sleeping at an angle to keep mucus flowing out.
Pediatric saline drops provide temporary relief to babies from a blocked nose. It is also challenging to administer it correctly because many babies hate it. Keep a saline drop handy and use it every night so your baby can sleep peacefully.
Dab a few drops of eucalyptus oil on the curtains of the room your baby is in. you should aim to get a mild scent a little far away from the baby. Dabbing strong oils/ Vicks under the nose will irritate the gentle membranes inside the nose, causing more mucous secretion and severely blocked nose. So dab the oil away from the baby, like on his socks.
Humidifier and Steam
Hot steam will loosen up blocked nose. If anybody in your home is fond of piping hot showers, keep your baby in the steamy bathroom for a few minutes. You can also use a humidifier for the room for better results.
Home Remedies for Blocked Nose in Babies over 5 months
Applying heat gently on your baby’s nose, forehead and cheeks will relieve a blocked nose. Heat an iron box on the low setting. Press a soft cotton cloth on the iron box and pat your baby’s sinuses, fontanelle and behind ears to drain the nose. You can also add some warmth to the throat during a sore throat/tonsil pain. Instead of using a plain cloth, you can also use a cloth filled with Ajwain seeds, Husk or Flaxseeds. Only use heat pack once a day and not for more than five minutes. Babies have very soft skin, and they will break out into rashes if you overdo it. Also, over use of heat will stop a runny nose, dry out the mucous and prevent expelling of mucous from the body, which in turn will lead to dry coughs. Use heat packs sparingly.
Place a small iron rod or a cheap iron knife on the flame and heat it. Crush a small turmeric rhizome and sprinkle the powder on the heated iron rod. Let the baby inhale the vapour. You can also burn some turmeric rhizomes and garlic skins in a room for some time and make the baby the baby sleep in the room for a clear chest and nose.
If your baby is over 6 months old, give him/her enough water to help the body flush out the mucous during cold, cough and fever. Lack of water will cause phlegm to dry up and stay inside the body longer. You can use lukewarm water to soothe throat pain, sore throat and to relieve congestion.
Important Guidelines to follow
Most herbs used in home remedies are fiercely hot, so never combine remedies. Pick any one remedy for one symptom – for example, herbal oil for congestion and steam for blocked nose, and follow through. Home remedies work best when given at the early stages, like on the day of onset of the cold or a runny nose. If you start them later after cold turns to a cough or fever, you will less likely get quick results. Some tiny ones start sneezing and kneading their noses on days when they have an oil bath or a hair wash. If your cute kiddo fits this list, give him/her a dose of any one homemade cold remedy on days of hair wash and oil bath to prevent a runny nose.
We hope that this post helps relieve the distress of your baby. Get well soon!