The Best Home Remedies To Treat Your Sick Baby

My son was really sick over the past few days. It just came out of nowhere, all of a sudden he was very cranky & lethargic which is unlike his normal self. I noticed that he sounded really congested and he looked very uncomfortable. His nose was both stuffy and runny.

I will never give my son any OTC exportant or toddler decongestant. I prefer to implement home remedies for whenever my baby is sick because conventional medicine is not regulated. The last thing I want to do is put stress on my sons liver and his kidneys because of processing the medicine in order to “feel better”. Doesn’t work for me. I have other strategies.

A More Holistic Way To Treat Your Sick Baby

Because you see, giving your child a pill is a “quick fix” to a problem that can actually be handled holistically instead. Of course, doing things the natural way requires more work, more patience and your little one will be slightly more uncomfortable than if you had given them a decongestant.

The trade off is that your baby gets better the way they should and without stress to their organs.

The Rules At Bedtime Temporarily Alternated

Because he wasn’t feeling well, the rules at bedtime needed to be bended; meaning my son was permitted to sleep next to me since he was happier and comfortable doing so. Whatever is necessary to make your little one more comfortable at night while they are sick without resulting to conventional medicine.

At 19 months old, my son has been through enough colds & fevers for this mama to know what to do. I know that the very first time my son was a wee baby and he had his first cold I freaked out. I called my doctor and they walked me through the basic steps of sick baby care. Was he going to be alright? Would I have to bring him to the hospital? No, it wasn’t that serious.

Saline and if your toddler lets you, a bulb syringe

A toddler typically cannot blow their own nose until they are around 2 to 5 years old.

For some reason, it was much easier to convince my son to use the Arm & Hammer Simply Saline Nasal Mist vs the red cross bulb syringe thereafter. My guess is because Elmo was on the can. I allowed my son to take a good, hard stare at both of these items before I even attempted to use either of them on him. I even demonstrated how they worked in front of my son and even let him push the nozzle.

My son held the can up to my nose. He needed a little assistance but I helped him find the spray button and told him to push it so he could see what happened. I made sure to laugh out loud as soon as he pushed the spray button. I didn’t want to scare him. I made it seem like it felt really good, tickled even.

The whole point was to help my son understand that this can of saline was meant to put in your nose and that it wasn’t a scary or bad thing. It made it a lot easier to say, “Okay now your turn” with less hesitation on his part.

Until your baby or toddler can blow their own nose, this works by helping push the mucus out. I really like the Arm & Hammer brand because its easy to use and very effective. You are meant to use the bulb syringe as well, to remove the gunk. Although my son was willing to use the saline mist spray in his nose, the bulb syringe was a different story. He was not willing to let me put it in his nose and suck out the excess mucus.

How you do it is have your baby lay down on a flat surface, such a bed ( not a water bed, something firm. ) Tilt the head back, aim the nozzle into the nose and spray for two seconds. If your baby allows you to, take the bulb and squeeze it at first to decompress the air out, stick the tip of into your baby’s nostril and very slowly release the air from the bulb. If you do it right the mucus will come right out.

Make sure to keep tissues handy as it will get a little messy.

You really need to get a humidifier

my humidifier in action

To be honest I had no idea what kind of humidifier to get. I did what any other mom would do. I did research based on reviews and what other moms said. According to the general consensus; a cool-mist humidifier works by keeping the nasal passages moist, and in turn will soothe coughs and sore throats.

I chose the Vicks Filter Free Cool Mist Humidifier because it had the best reviews, and turned out to actually be a smart buy for $35. It says for “temporary relief from cough and congestion for better breathing and a more comfortable sleep.” I certainly noticed how Oliver was more comfortable and able to breathe better while he slept.

Since it is manufactured by the Vicks company, it comes equipped with a slot on the side where you can insert a Vicks brand “Scent pad” which make the mist menthol like (*however you need to buy these separately*). Similar to rubbing vicks rub on your child’s chest. You may or may not use the scent pads, your choice.

This humidifier has no filters to clean or replace and it is really easy to clean. There are adjustable mist control settings so you can set it to how you like.

Hot-water humidifiers are dangerous to curious kids who might make it topple over.

Make sure you use always use distilled always water in your humidifier because hard water deposits and mold can form and build up. Very nasty and not good for your baby.

Lots of fluids

When people are sick, their bodies are ridden with icky germs, mucus which can all be easily flushed out. You would be surprised to know how dehydrated most sick children are because they are unwilling to drink water. You should offer your little one Pedialyte diluted in fruit juice.

My son personally loves sparkling water. He will drink so much of it and make the cutest little faces as the bubble water snaps in his mouth, most likely fizzing in his nose. But if he will drink sparkling water by the gallons, I see no problem with that as long as its not Pepsi or juice from concentrate, with sugars, etc. We like the sparkling water from Trader Joes.

When I say fluids, I mean use your common sense and choose things that are healthy and reasonable for your little one. Remember that children under six months should not have more than 4 ounces of water a day.

Treat the fever

If you think fevers aren’t risky enough to treat, think about your child’s comfort level. A fever is a really miserable experience to have. Your little one might really suffer and be restless and achy, as well as chilly whereas their body is hot to the touch Don’t put your baby through that. Medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin) will bring your baby’s temperature down within 30 minutes.

If your baby is younger than 3 months, call your doctor first. You can give Tylenol to babies between 3 to 6 months but you will still need to call your doctor to have them tell you the appropriate dosage to give according to your baby’s weight measured at the last pediatrician visit. You would be surprised but the dosages are very exact because you are dealing with a tiny persons weight, don’t make the mistake of taking a guess according to whatever you read on the internet.

Cough medicines are not regulated

The FDA is still trying to evaluate if cough medicines are safe for children under 12 years old. That means that its not okay to give them to your little one. Treat the cough with a humidifier, lots of fluids and Pedialyte. Chicken noodle soup is always a winner as well as home mad Popsicle for fevers.

Call a doctor when

  • Your baby younger than 6 months has a temperature of 100.4 degrees F or higher
  • Your baby is older than 6 months and has a temperature of 103 degrees F or higher
  • Your baby hasn’t had a wet diaper in 6 hours, has a dry mouth which means they are very dehydrated
  • Cold / Fever symptoms that don’t start to get better after fie days ( which means it could be something a little more serious than a common cold )
  • Your baby’s breathing is hasty or strained
  • Your baby refuses to drink which means he or she might have trouble breathing

Don’t be too hard on yourself

Hopefully these tips have been helpful to you. The most important thing to remember when your baby is sick is to give lots of TLC. Lots of cuddles. And comfort. Take it easy on yourself mom or dad, because taking care of a sick baby isn’t fun or easy. When other people offer help, accept it. Taking care of a sick baby is not fun or easy. The best part is when the next morning you discover your baby’s fever has broken, or your baby feels 100% better. All colds and fevers eventually do run their course, remember that.

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Great Post! I think this is one of the biggest concerns for parents. It can be scary when babies get sick because they are so tiny and fragile. I love the part where Elmo comes to the rescue! Its just a normal can but its amazing how a simple picture can alter perceptions.

My sister and I were sick babies with lung problems so we lived with the humidifiers on. They really do help you to breath easier. I think your final tip on not being to hard on yourself is great. Babies are all unique and don’t come with an instruction manual. This means you are in uncharted waters but there are some basic guidelines like this that can help a lot. 

If Elmos picture was not on the can of saline, I doubt my son would allow me to use it on him. Whoever was in marketing for Arm & Hammer must have little ones and know what will work and what won’t. 

I’m with you when it comes to not trusting the vast majority of over the counter medications. The body’s immune system is powerful and more than capable of handling common colds and low grade fevers. Over medicating to simply hide symptoms can weaken your immune system in the long run. I’d pick these remedies for my child any day of the week over medications that have a side-effect list that’s three pages long.

Exactly, you do more harm to your child’s little organs if you give them medication that is really not necessary . The body has an amazing capacity to heal itself if you just take care of yourself and good old fashioned way, with lots of TLC!

Hi, Sophia, how are you? Let me tell you first that your son is beautiful 🙂

I am also a mother of a baby of almost 14 and a half months, and in all this time he only got sick twice. He is very strong, and thank God he does not get sick almost never and, when he does, he heals very fast, but those 2 days of his illness, it’s really not happy to see him decayed and all congested, especially when it’s time of sleeping, he cannot sleep well because of his congested nose.What works for me, in particular, is to put two drops of saline solution in each nostril and vacuum it with a nasal aspirator, I use the Marimer brand, I do not know if you know it but it is very good. Apart from that, I give lots of liquids and I also use a humidifier.Regards, Pao.

How do you go about getting your baby to fall asleep during a time when they are sick? I remember being a child and not being able to sleep so well when I was a child. Does having them sleep next to you help them fall asleep better?

Also, I never knew that homemade popsicles can help when you are sick.

I’d say that when babies are sick, its okay to bend the rules and allow them to sleep next to you ( assuming if they normally sleep in their own crib ) you can re-sleep train them later. 

I always do water therapy when my kids were growing, most of all, under 1 year old. I gave a drop of water every 5 minutes. Also, water compresses on the hands and feet. When the hands are cold then do hot compresses. if hands and feet are hot then cold compresses. I helps a lot, more than medicine. New parents would love to read this article. It would be helpful to them.

Hi Sophia – thanks for a great article.  I think one of the hardest thing facing parents these days is the apparent overload of medicines and elixures that are sold as fast active to help baby.  We have recently started a quest to reduce the amount of chemicals in our house so love a lot of the ideas you have put forward here.

We use a diffuser a lot which also I believe can help in a proactive sense to reduce the occurence of these illnesses – at least it seems to for us.  We use oils generally but have also just run steam via a kettle if we are all a little congested.

I did find it interesting that you mention Tylenol.  it is ibviously a medicine and not what I would call a natural substance.  However we do use a similare product here for fever as I refuse to let my sons temp stay too high for too long.  Not only does this cause discomfort but can cause serious brain damage too.  I would love to find something that would naturally reduce temp as qucikly as these do (ours is paracetomol based) but I feel it is just not worth the risk.  

I thank you for such a well rounded and sensible post..

Hi Paul, yes I do know that Tylenol isn’t a natural substance but in regards to fevers, I also refuse to let my sons temperature stay high for too long. You have to draw a line somewhere; I feel like a fever is more serious and needs to be taken seriously. Things like cough decongestant and expectorants are not suitable for children. Thank you for your comment 🙂 

I have always been against using medication unless absolutely necessary. My daughter is 2 years old and has been sick plenty of time with the stomach flu, colds and fevers. We also have the Vicks Filter Free Humidifier – my wife and I love it! Sometimes though my mother-in-law will come over bringing toddler decongestant that she bought from the pharmacy, meaning well, but not realizing that toddler decongestant is not regulated. 

We have been called “hippie parents” which is silly. If my daughter had a high fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, then I would give her baby Tylenol or Ibuprofen. I just don’t want to give her anything else.

Interestingly enough my daughter has figured out how to blow her own nose since she has been 13 months, its been quite a blessing. All my wife and I have to do is hold a tissue up to her nose, press down one of her nostrils and say “blow!” she will do it on command! Its very cute and very satisfying for her I bet when all that snot comes out lol.

Thanks for the tips!

It’s so hard when the little ones are sick!  I too am of the mindset that you should always go with natural solutions whenever possible. I sometimes care for my grand children when they are sick, so I appreciate your suggestions here. My youngest grand child is 18 months, so I will share these tips with his parents so they will be prepared. The saline is such a great option and I love that it is available nowadays for young children! 

Hi Kayla, yes this particular brand of saline is made in a spray can with a nozzle and holds pressure somewhat like a whip-cream can. You then aim the nozzle in your child’s nostril and spray upwards. You nee to make sure your child is lying down with their head tilted back and spray for 5 seconds. This forces all the mucus out of the nose and also moisturizes the nasal passages. You can also use a bulb syringe to remove the excess saline 

My 6-year old suffers from allergic reactions frequently that leads to long spells of dry cough. It lasts up to 4 fours mostly peaking on the second day. Although the frequency has come down during the past one year or so, he still suffers from dry cough off and on. Till today, we have not been able to identify the allergen but I have a feeling that it’s pollen grains that he’s allergic to looking. You have provided some really good information in your article. I hate giving my son OTC drugs but that’s what we have been doing all this while. Thanks for a beautiful post. I have bookmarked it already.

Loads of great information here on home remedies for sick babies !  I didn’t know that you can’t give a child Tylenol under 6 months or cough medicine under 1 year! That’s good to know.

I was very sick as a kid and I know I always had a humidifier in my room.  I never knew why but I guess it was the healthiest way to treat me. 

Do you recommend any old wife’s tales for breaking fevers like running a cold bath?  Or, would that put the baby into too much shock?

Hi Nicki, running a cold bath is definitely an old wife’s tale that would most certainly shock baby. Depending on how old the baby is also, could make a difference on how much shock it would be in. That is not a good home remedy for a sick baby. You can reduce a fever by allowing baby to be just in their diaper with no other clothing. Keep the heater off and make sure the home is not ridiculously warm ( it doesn’t have to be cold eiither ) and give baby fluids like Pedialyte. Always call a doctor or pediatrician first when your baby has a fever of 100 Fahrenheit or more.

Great advice for first time Moms. I am a first time Grandma, so hence I can use this advice as well. In this day and age everyone is all about natural remedies which will not harm any child’s organs. I love it, in my day which are many years ago. It was about administering medication to enable healing faster, but what their poor organs endured. 

I used to use the nose bulb back then, much easier and it also help to avoid the redness the child gets when a tissue is used. I remember my babies hated having to blow their nose due to it hurting their little nostril.

Glad to know that is now becoming more mainstream. I also used the humidifier, have pointed my son towards your website, he has been looking into getting a humidifier to use for his baby.

I also have 2 little kids, and fortunately they don’t get too sick very often, I just want to be prepared from now on a bit better.

I also use saline with them, and I must say this is the best thing made for children and I also tried it together with them 🙂 However that bulb did not work for us (we had a smaller one), but it could not clean anything. What we have here is long tube and then similar structure but with more curves all around a plastic part that you can put the same way to the baby’s nose and then you switch on the hoover and it cleans out everything together with the saline. 

I tried it as well, it is not strong at all, not uncomfortable at all, has about the same effect when you blow your nose – what they cannot do yet. So, it is much better than it sounds 🙂

We also use a humidifier that you suggest, and I agree, it is also very useful. Sometimes I put in some saline to disinfect the air and it helps a lot too.

I did not know these tips on fever and cough, so thank you very much, I will surely follow your advice 🙂

I like your whole site, you have very good and useful tips and advice. Looking forward to the next ones 🙂

Thank you so much, I am very happy you enjoyed my article on home remedies for sick babies and my site overall. I appreciate it. 

The media is full of OTC remedies, and I can see how easily that would make parents think that it’s the only option for making heir baby feel better. Saline solution is definitely a great solution for the nasal passages, and it’s all natural. Even my naturopath recommends it. 

I know you mentioned that you currently purchase sparkling water, but did you know that there is a product called Soda Stream, that would allow you to make your own fizzy water at home? We used it a few years ago to make our own soda at home, before we gave up soda all together. That might be something to check into, as you can mail plain water, or there may also be a way to add your own fruit flavoring to it. Just something to think about that may save some money instead of buying the pre-bottled kind.

Hi Jennifer, this Soda Stream sounds like it would save me some money. I will look into it, thank so much for sharing. 

Thank you for excellent tips on sick baby care. My biggest obstacle is keeping my kids from getting sick because people like to hug them and get too close when talking to them. I don’t want to be rude, but sometimes I want to pull my kids away and ask them to maintain some space and perhaps wash their hands before hugging on them. I just want to keep as many germs away from them as possible, especially when school-aged children are around the babies. I know that someone may not show symptoms yet but they could have a virus in their body that is able to spread. Do you have any strategies for protecting kids from germs without being rude? 

Oh Theresa, I so understand where you are coming from here when you say strangers like to touch and hug your children and in turn it gets germs all over them. I hate this! I absolutely hate it! You know what I do? I am just very straightforward with strangers ( and even with touchy feely family too sometimes ) “Please do not touch my child without asking them” or if you don’t want to be so upfront, what you CAN also say whenever someone is touching your child, “We are trying to teach our child about healthy boundaries, would you ask me/them before touching them?” I think this is a more milder way to say it so the other person won’t take it personally. Never feel bad about sticking up for your child in regards to their personal boundaries because its important that they know that their body is their own. 

Very helpful topic Sophia! I don’ have kids yet but my sister does and her kid really have problem with the air. I am really surprised to see that you recommend humidifiers. I did not see that my sister has it but honestly I did not see it anywhere. I will for sure buy one for my sister and forward this article to her.

Fantastic article.  There’s nothing worse than a sick baby, is there?  I’m so glad to see these tips.  I believe that too many parents want to turn to medication when there are simple remedies like this that might do the trick just (or more) as effectively and with no side effects.  I will be sharing this article with the new parents I know.  Thanks.


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