Five Natural Cold Remedies for Children

by Josée

Updated and reposted from April 2013.

Every autumn or winter my children come down with at least one nasty cold complete with fever, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and teary eyes. These nasty viruses wreck havoc in our home. Nobody sleeps well at night and the days are not much better. With the help of a few natural cold remedies we soldier on and everyone feels a little better.

I have a background in nursing and so it’s my trained response to give children acetaminophen or ibuprofen at the first sign of a fever or any sort of discomfort. It’s difficult to see a child in pain, and I would be lying if I said I never gave conventional medicine to my children; however, I do take a more restrained approach these days. Over the last few years I have accumulated a variety of natural remedies for soothing symptoms of illness. Below are my five favourites cold remedies for children.

Ear Oil

With the increase in bacterial resistance to antibiotics, more doctors are taking a wait-and-see approach to prescribing antibiotics for ear infections. Many times ear infections are caused by viruses which means antibiotics won’t even help. When my daughter was a baby she was very prone to ear infections. After several rounds of antibiotic I started using ear oil at the first sign of a cold and had great results.

Ear oil is an oil that has been infused with garlic, mullein and possibly other things. You can purchase ear oil from health food stores and many pharmacies. Another option is to use plain olive oil, which is what my doctor recommends. Pour a little bit of warm olive into a bowl, lay your child’s head on your lap and use a medicine dropper to gently put a couple drops in each ear a few times a day. Make sure that the oil isn’t too hot and don’t put oil into an ear that has a ruptured eardrum (puss and blood are coming out).

Suggested reading: Do Bugs Need Drugs?
Suggested reading: Ask Dr. Sears: Ear Infections.
Resource: Natural remedy to heal an ear ache in 30 minutes or less.

Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry syrup has been used by people for the treatment of colds and influenzas for centuries and research supports that it is effective at reducing the severity and longevity of these types of illnesses. Our family started using elderberry syrup over the holiday season, many years ago, when everyone around us is sick and we want to stay healthy. We did stay healthy!

These days I give my children elderberry syrup at the first sign of a cold. You can purchase elderberry syrup at most health food stores, online or make your own syrup.
Resource: Homemade elderberry syrup.


Echinacea has also been used by people to treat colds for a long time. Medical research shows that echinacea is effective against the common cold and many people swear by it. I give my children echinacea as soon as I notice symptoms or even earlier if we’ve been around others that are sick.

Homemade Vapor Rub

Vapor rubs are helpful when children are congested and coughing. Vicks Vaporub has three main medical ingredients: camphor, eucalyptus and menthol. This combination is harsh for young children which is why pediatricians recommend it should not be used for children under the age of two. Making your own vapor rub allows you to choose what goes into it and how intense it is. I make vapor rub following this quick and easy recipe.

Resources: Quick Homemade Vapour Rub.

Lemon and Honey Tea

When my children (or myself) have a cold I make a pot of lemon honey tea first thing in the morning. It soothes sore throats and hydrates and the sweetness of the honey keeps my children coming back for more. Don’t forget that babies under 12 months of age shouldn’t eat raw honey.

Suggested Reading: Honey and Lemon Tea.
Resource: Is it safe to give my baby honey?
Disclaimer: This page contains Amazon Affiliates links and I may earn a small commission from your purchases made through them. 

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Kim Corrigan-Oliver April 4, 2013 - 10:42 am

Your go to remedies look just like mine 🙂 Hope they are feeling better.

Lisa G. April 4, 2013 - 7:18 pm

I made ear oil once when my oldest (who has chronic ear infections) had an ear infection that was super painful!! But that vapor rub looks fantastic – I pinned it for later!

And I hope everyone starts feeling better soon. My two boys have been a little sick the last 2 days – probably all the sugar and skipped naps caught up to us 🙂

Happy Easter!!!

Josée April 4, 2013 - 10:16 pm

Yes, I'm sure all the excitement of Easter and eating a lot of sugar hasn't helped my children's immune systems either 🙂

Kiara Albert August 9, 2013 - 12:56 pm

Coughs and colds are the common health issues in children that usually caused by a viral infection. Many different viruses can cause cough and hence affect the nose and throat. Cough and cold can also create dizziness or tinnitus problems in small infants. My child usually has such cold problems in winters and due this cold dilemma he has tinnitus problems in both ears. Hidden Hearing specialists have suggested me to regularly put a few drops of saline (salt water) into the nose so that the nose can be unblocked. They also suggested that I should give some herbal medicines to my child to remove cold.

John Clark November 25, 2013 - 10:20 am

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medrushi December 16, 2013 - 4:45 am

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angelfelix589 December 16, 2013 - 6:12 am

Natural remedies are the Perfect way to treat common cold problems. The home remedies which works for me is Honey and Ginger. Honey works very well for the treatment of cold. People prefer this supplement in many more diseases also. And it is also good for our health. Ginger about which you have not said in this article, I will tell you about this Finest cold treatment. Ginger has a unique warming up quality, which helps to gain temperature of the body and if nose contain mucus or phlegm then it would melt it. So it would be easy to lay off from the body. Here its full uses of this supplement in this link
It would be helpful for others. Excellent share


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