Proven Indian Home Remedies For Cold and Cough in Infants

Using home remedies for cough and cold in infants is a better way than straight away giving medicines. Parents usually need to rush to a doctor or pediatricians who are  prescription happy and immediately scribble OFM and Paracetamol and send you on the way.

It is but natural to want to reduce your child’s suffering as soon as possible – but to try out home remedies before administering unnecessary medicines.

Why I prefer Home remedies for cough and cold

I have come across a pediatrician in Varanasi  when I was visiting my parents and Baby C fell ill, who did exactly this. Outside his door he has many notices posted. One of them promised free consultation for the children of Defence personnel and the another providing a rebate for girl children.

Upon reading such notices, one would naturally assume that being such an outstanding citizen, he would be a great doctor also. I was in for a rude shock when I realized that Good Person ≠ Good Doctor.

He asked me to sit with my child on my lap and asked me what the problem was.  As soon as I started to say that he has been having loose motions for past three days and a slight fever, he started writing on his prescription pad ` yes you guessed it right – OFM, Paracetamol and ORS.

He didn’t even touch Baby C’s stomach or put the stethoscope on him, and that is what i found most disconcerting! It was as if he has a template of medicines which he prescribed for stomach aches.

So, I took the prescription, my brother insisted we buy the medicines, but I wan’t happy. Back at home, I only gave Chikoo the ORS and nothing else. Since Chikoo was one year and four months old – I wasn’t in a hurry to administer, but wanted him to recover on his own, strengthening his immunity.

Also Read: Home Remedies For Constipation in Babies

Please Note: If your baby is below 3 months old and has a fever above 100, please take him to a doctor IMMEDIATELY. 

Once babies who are above 6 months old it is a safer to try home remedies or Gharelu Nuskhe for cold and  cough. Did you notice that I didn’t mention fever? That is because fever is not a disease – it is a symptom that the body is fighting an infection. When we give Paracetamol and reduce fever- we are not curing the disease – in fact we are reducing the body’s ability to fight the infection.

Yes, it is difficult to see your young one suffering, and mother’s first instinct is to reduce child’s suffering. Don’t reduce a fever with medicine, instead break it by making your little one’s sweat.

Home remedies for cold and cough in Infants (aged 3 months to 6 months)

#1. Breast Feed or Breast Milk

Before you mutter “Kya be, how can food be medicine?!”, read on! Breastfeed is indeed the best home remedy for curing every disease in infants. After all mother is a baby’s first nurse! Infants cannot latch properly when suffering from cold & cough. But don’t let this stop you from offering breast milk for breastmilk is of the best home remedies for cold and cough for babies.


#2. Pour a few drops Breast Milk in infant’s nose

Breast milk contains many antibodies, which can help to cure cold of your baby. Put few drops of breast milk into the nose of child to provide relief.

#3. Saline Water aka Namak Pani

Many saline drops are available in the market, however most of them would have a preservative. Take one cup boiled water 230ml Approx and ½ teaspoon of salt. Mix well and using a dropper pour a few drops into the blocked nose of baby. Saline water helps in unblocking stuffy nose almost instantly. Keep wiping away the running nose with tissues.

#4. Nasal Suction with Pump

Personally I’ve never had to use this method, as saline water always sufficed.  Using a suction pump to clean muck from nose, prevents rashes on the soft skin of new born baby. Please sterilize suction pump after every use.

Also Read: Home Remedies For Loose Motions and Diarrhea in Babies

#5. Garlic & Ajwain ki potli

Garlic and Ajwain (Bhisop’s seed or carom) have been known to have many anti-bacterial properties which help to kill many bacteria. It is one of the oft used home remedies for cold and cough.

Lightly roast 2 to 3 cloves of garlic along with half a tea spoon of Ajwain on tawa or in a Kadai for a minute. Once fumes begin to rise, turn of gas and let it cool down. Tie the mixture in a small polti or cloth pouch. You can keep this ajwain ki potli near your baby, in the crib or tie it around her neck. Please be extremely vigilant as babies can swallow and choke on small things. Be sure pouch is well secured and out of the reach of her little inquisitive hands.

#6. Light or Indirect Steam

Taking steam has always been the most natural way to treat cough and cold and provide relief for blocked nose and chest congestion. Since babies are very sensitive, never give direct steam to them. You can keep the room humid for easier breathing by placing a steamer near your bed.

To give steam to babies, best way is to make your bathroom steamy by running the hot water tap. Once sufficient steam has gathered, sit with your little one in the bathroom for 10–15 minutes. Repeat twice daily or as and when required.

#7. Keep babies head elevated when sleeping

As we face difficulty sleeping when suffering from cough and cold, so does your little infant. Too provide some relief, elevate your baby’s head with a pillow when sleeping. This minimizes the discomfort of blocked nose, helping her get much need rest and sleep.

#8. Sleep And Rest

Yes, rest and sleep is the best medicine to help baby recover her strength. I know it is difficult, so please try to get her to sleep as much as possible.

#9. Massage your baby

Massaging your little one with warm mustard oil or coconut oil will provide the much needed relief from cough and cold. Long and repetitive massage strokes on chest and back work best.

Best oils to massage your baby

  • Mustard oil with ajwain and garlic: Heat mustard oil along with ajwain and garlic. After it cools down, run it through a sieve so that no particles remain. If your baby is over 3 months old, you can also add a pinch of hing. This oil is the most effective in providing instant relief form cough and cold.
  • Coconut Oil with drumstick leaves: Heat some coconut oil with drumstick leaves or moringa. Apply on hair of child to provide relief from cough and cold.
  • Tulsi Coconut Oil: Warm up coconut oil with some tulsi leaves from your garden. Adding a bit of camphor also helps. Put this oil on chest and hair of your baby to give relief from cold and cough.

#10. Diffuse Essential Oils in Room

Essential oils or Eos as they are called, are concentrated pure plants extracts and have healing properties. I have been using Essential Oils for quite some time now. However, they are slowly becoming a rage these days. So, please be careful about the brand and amount you use. In a separate post I cover how essential oils are different from your normal synthetic fragrance oils.

For babies below three months, please DON’T use essential oils. Please DON’T diffuse…mix..don’t do anything- just put them back. Go speak to your doctor.

For babies above three months, you may consider ONLY DIFFUSING two to three drops of EO’s in the room. Lavender and German Chamomile are mild EO’s which can be diffused for babies above 3 months old.

  • DON’T use more than 2-3 drops when diffusing.
  • DON’T apply on your baby anywhere.
  • DON’T ever apply Eos on your baby in its pure form, always dilute.

I have explained how to use essential oils safety and use in a separate post.

Also Read: Home Remedies For Indigestion in Babies

Home remedies for cold and cough in infants (Aged 6 months to 12 months)

#1. Steam 

For young babies, steam is the safest cure to provide relief for cold and cough. Inhaling steam will help to clear your baby’s blocked nose by opening blocked airways.

Since your baby’s skin is still “komal” or soft, don’t allow her to get too close to the water steamer. It is also a good idea to use a room humidifier or steamer to keep room humid. This will help your little one to breathe easily.

#2. Garlic Ajwain ki Potli

Lightly roast 2–3 big cloves of garlic along with one spoon of ajwain on a tawa or in a wok. Once fumes rise, switch off gas and let cool down. Make a small pouch or potli out of it. Place the same near your baby’s bedding during sleep time. This will provide relief from blocked nose and chest congestion. Since babies this age are quite mobile and tend to put everything in their mouths – please, please be extra, extra careful that she doesn’t swallow it by mistake.

#3. Roasted Turmeric Paste or Rub

The humble haldi or turmeric is one of the most popular home remedies for cold and cough. Antibacterial properties of turmeric are legendary, mentioned even in Ayurveda.

One piece of dried turmeric root can be taken, roasted and ground. Make a paste with this turmeric powder and warm water and apply on baby’s nose to get relief from phlegm, congestion and cough.

turmeric#4. Oil Massage

It is a good routine to massage your baby daily. However, it is most essential when baby is not well. Following the best oils for baby massage for your 6 months plus baby.

  • Mustard Oil with garlic, ajwain and hing: Mustard oil, itself has many has medical and antibacterial properties. When combined with garlic cloves, ajwain and hing – it becomes even more effective. Heat mustard oil with garlic, ajwain and hing. Once it is lukewarm, rub on baby’s back and feet to get quick relief from nasal congestion, cough and cold.
  • Coconut Oil with drumstick leaves: Heat some coconut oil with drumstick leaves or moringa. Apply on hair of child to provide relief from cough and cold.
  • Tulsi Coconut Oil: Warm up coconut oil with some tulsi leaves from your garden. Adding a bit of camphor also helps. Put this oil on chest and hair of your baby to give relief from cold and cough.
  • Coconut Oil with Camphor: Camphor or kapoor mixed with coconut oil, is a good option for your baby. It gives similar effect of Vicks.

#5. Essential oils

 Add one or two drops of essential oils to a tablespoon of olive/mustard/almond/coconut oil and rub it on baby’s feet and back. Essential oils that are safe at this age are Lavender, Chamomile, and Sandalwood. Please be very careful using these concentrated oils around babies. Always dilute, never apply directly.

Essential oils or Eos as they are called, are concentrated pure plants extracts and have healing properties. Many brands of essential oils have flooded the market, so please be careful about the brand and amount you use. In a separate post I cover how essential oils can be used safely for children.

#6. Vaporub and other such ointments

Though not technically a gharelu nushke for cold and cough. Abroad parents usually use only special Baby Vicks, which have just started becoming available in India. If you wish to use Vicks, please use extremely small quantities. Apply to bottom of your baby’s feet, and back and chest. Cover with socks and rub externally to give more warmth. Though Vicks doesn’t remove the actual congestion, it does make baby feel relief.

I am not particularly fond of using such products on babies, nor do I recommend them, but in case all else fails – this is a last resort. Though claiming to be an Ayurvedic formula, Vicks Vaporub does contain petroleum extracts which are not good for babies. Personally, I have never used it for Baby C, preferring to go for coconut oil with camphor.

#7. Tulsi Juice

Juice from Tulsi leaves will help to get relieve from cough, cold and congestion. Just boil four or five leaves of Tulsi in one cup (230ml) water. Once cooled feed your baby a couple of spoons, throughout the day at 3-4 hours intervals. Good luck! Babies don’t drink this easily, so you could add some drops of breastmilk!

#8. Badi Elachi and Tulsi Water

As in Tulsi Juice, just boil 4–5 Tulsi leaves and one black cardamom or badi elachi in one cup of water (230 mls). Let cool, strain and feed 2-3 spoons at 3-4 hours intervals.

#9. Panikoorka Juice

An ayurvedic herb, found mostly in South India, Panikoorka can sore throat, nasal and chest congestion in children. Similar to Tulsi Juice, boil the 3-4 leaves Panikoorka for 5 minutes in 1 cup of water. Let cool, strain and feed 2-3 spoons.

#10. Lukewarm water with ajwain

Ajwain or Bishops seed is a good remedy for cough. Boil a tablespoon in a cup of water. Cool, strain and give this water on regular intervals to your baby. It will also help to keep her hydrated.

#11. Jeera ka pani (Cumin seeds water)

Jeera seeds or cumin seeds have inherent essential oils that help to prevent viral infections and also cure cough and congestion. Boil a tablespoon of cumin seeds with a cup of water. Cool, strain and give this water on regular intervals to your baby. This will also help to strengthen her immunity system. After all prevention is half the cure, no?! J

#12. Carrot Juice

Nutritious food helps an ailing body to recover faster. Carrot juice is a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. It also helps to control whooping cough.

In a blender, add peeled and chopped carrots with some boiled water. Extract juice, dilute it with boiled water. Feed at regular intervals to your baby and watch her recover!

#13. Soups

Don’t we just love something warm and steaming when suffering from a cold? Well, babies are no different! Seasonal mixed soups and dal soups help to relieve congestion. If your baby is above 9 months you could also try chicken soup which will give warmth to baby’s chest and throat.

#14. Kada or Herbal Soup

Who hasn’t had kada when suffering from cold and cough? Boil one cup of water with Tulsi, ajwain, jeera, ginger, a pinch of black pepper and gur (jiggery). Let water reduce to half and then turn of gas. Once cool, strain and feed 2-3 spoons to your baby. This is like a health tonic that treats most aliments.

Have you been wondering why I haven’t mentioned honey, when it is a golden magic liquid when it comes to ailments? Well, I had very good reasons!

Honey should not be given to babies below one year of age as it can cause botulism in infants – which can be fatal. Though it happens one in million, but still it should be sufficient for you as a mother to avoid this remedy till your young one reaches his first birthday! Dadis, nanis and all the aayas will swear by it – but please do avoid till your child becomes one year.

So these were all the natural home remedies for cold and cough in infants below one year that I have personally used on my son. In case you have a toddler, above one years of age then try Natural remedies for children 1 year and above.

What home remedies do you use? Do you prefer medicine over home remedies? Share below!