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8 tried-and-tested Indian home remedies for cold and cough in infants

From ginger and honey to turmeric milk, help your child feel better with these traditional home remedies passed down through the ages.

Parents of young kids know that a cold is something they will have to deal with often in their child’s early years. One day your child is perfectly healthy and the next, they have a runny nose and a hacking cough. With 200 cold viruses around, it’s no wonder this infection is a frequent visitor.

With or without medicines, the cold will run its course, which could be anything from a few days to 2 weeks. The constant coughing and discomfort might tempt you to go for over-the-counter medication, but this might not be the best approach. Many medicines are not considered safe for children younger than 6 years and can have serious side effects if used incorrectly. Instead, you could try these Indian home remedies for cold and cough in infants that will help ease the symptoms and make your child feel better.

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1. Salt and turmeric gargle


A sore throat and cough are going to make your little one feel miserable and cranky.  A saltwater gargle provides instant relief and is among the most popular natural remedies for cold and cough for children two years and older. To make it even more effective, mix a pinch of turmeric along with ½ teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water. If your child is refusing to gargle this solution, you can make it a game so that your child will try it more easily.

2. Saline nose spray


A bad cold can lead to thick crusty mucus inside the nose, making breathing even more difficult. Dry mucus is especially true for kids who are too young to blow their nose. OTC decongestant nasal spray is not advised for children, but a saline nasal spray is a good option as one of the natural remedies for cold and cough in babies. Prepare one at home by mixing 3 tablespoons of non-iodized salt in ½ litre of water. Just block one nostril at a time and lightly spray. Older children can blow their nose after a while to clear their nasal passage. Infants might need a nasal bulb syringe to clear out the mucus. This is a great addition to your list of homemade natural remedies for cold and cough in babies as well as toddlers.

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3. Steam it out

Steam is an excellent way to clear those blocked nasal passages, especially before sleeping. Just add sufficient water in a steamer and get your child to inhale the steam from it. You can even add a few drops of an essential oil like eucalyptus or lavender as they are natural remedies for cold and cough in babies. Of course, this is only good for children 6 years and older. There is another workaround for babies and toddlers that is recommended by pediatricians. Run a hot shower in the bathroom till this small space is all steamed up. Then put a chair inside and sit with your infant or little kid for a good 15 minutes. You can also bring along their favourite storybook so that they don’t get bored.  Get your little one into a fresh set of clothes and they should be all set to sleep undisturbed.

4. Honey

Honey is one of the most common Indian home remedies for cold and cough in infants. Research shows that honey has microbial agents that can treat cough and a sore throat in an easy and effective way. Give your child a teaspoon of honey mixed with a little hot water to relieve a cough as often as you need to. Older children can have honey mixed with a little bit of ground ginger paste and crushed tulsi leaves for a powerful tonic. A cautionary note, however, honey should never be given to children younger than 1 as they can’t process it.

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5. Milk and turmeric

An age-old natural remedy for cold and cough in babies and children of all ages, milk and turmeric works wonderfully well. Of course, for babies, try it only if they are already on a bottle. Turmeric has great antiseptic properties that are good for treating viral infections. Milk is rich in Vitamin D which is a boost for the immune system. The two together are one of the best natural remedies for cold and cough in babies and will help your child feel better in no time! Milk and turmeric are also great ingredients to add to your baby food chart.

6. Ginger

This spice has long been used as one of the best ayurvedic home remedies for cold in infants. Ginger is a natural antiviral, acts as a decongestant and even lowers a small increase in body temperature. Toddlers 1 year and over can safely have ginger tea, but you can mix in some sugar to dial down the pungency just a bit. It is one of the most effective Indian home remedies for cold and cough in infants.

If your child is unwilling to take a sip of ginger tea, you can incorporate this incredible ingredient into just about any meal. Khichdi, for instance, is the perfect Indian comfort food for any age, starting as young as 7 months. Adding garlic and ginger to a normal khichdi gives it that perfect edge for fussy children who might baulk at the idea of having ginger tea.

7. Ajwain

This spice has long been in the arsenal of Indian grandmothers and is one of the most effective Indian home remedies for coughs and colds in infants. Ajwain is rich in antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties and can bring relief to chest congestion and coughing fits. This is why it’s one of the most popular ayurvedic home remedies for cold in infants. For infants, you can create a ‘potli’ (a small muslin pouch) by roasting 2 cloves of garlic and 1 tablespoon of ajwain. Once cooled a bit add it to a potli or tied up muslin cloth and keep near an infant so the fumes can help clear the decongestion. Older kids can have it applied directly to their chest like a warm compress to unblock the nose and ease breathing. Ajwain can also be boiled in water, strained and can be had through the day. It is one of the most versatile natural remedies for cold and cough in babies.

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8. Warm mustard oil massage

A warm oil massage is one of the best ayurvedic home remedies for cold in infants. This is particularly useful for infants and toddlers who are fussy about eating new foods when they are sick. Warm some mustard oil with a couple of garlic cloves and a few kalonji (nigella) seeds. Massage this onto your baby’s chest, back, feet and hands. Wipe off the excess with a towel or some tissue. This warm massage will relieve a congested chest and give your baby and you a restful night’s sleep.

Keeping your baby safe from harmful germs is the first step to preventing illnesses. This includes washing their baby bottles properly and building up their immunity. As a parent, you should recognise when you need to move from just Indian home remedies for cold and cough in infants to more advanced care. Sick babies below 6 months require a doctor’s examination. For other children, a doctor’s visit is called for if the cold does not improve in 3 days or if they have a high fever. With the mfine app, you can consult with the city’s top paediatricians immediately if you are concerned that your child’s cold could be a symptom of something more serious or if their cold is very severe.

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