How to Treat Fevers Colds and Coughs in Babies by

How to Treat Your Baby’s Cold, Cough and Fever Naturally

It’s always worrisome when your little one suddenly catches cold and becomes listless, uncomfortable and clingy. It’s normal to want to jump right into action to reduce the fever and relieve the suffering, but what’s the safest way to handle those cold symptoms?
How to Treat Your Baby's Cold, Cough and Fever Naturally

It's always worrisome when your little one suddenly catches cold and becomes listless, uncomfortable and clingy.  It's normal to want to jump right into action to reduce the fever and relieve the suffering, but what's the safest way to treat your baby's cold, cough and fever naturally?

I wear quite a few hats in my life, but one of my favorites is supporting my family and friends during times of illness. So a couple of weeks ago, my friend Julie dialed her personal Ask-a-Nurse hotline (a.k.a. my cell phone) when her 4 month old baby woke up with a heavy duty cold.  I got busy doing my geeky research thing and found plenty of natural remedies to boost her immune system and comfort her achy little body.

How to Treat Fevers in Babies Naturally

The fever your baby has may be the cause of discomfort, but it's actually beneficial – a positive sign that her immune system is working. With Tylenol's latest – and very scary – black box warning, it's even more important than ever to skip the treatment most often used by parents to reduce fever.

Here's how we should be handling fevers instead:

  • If your child's fever is making him miserable, Dr Benton recommends using a wet washcloth with a drop or two of lavender oil on his forehead to bring relief.
  • When it’s time to try to bring the fever down, Mommypotamus recommends trying an old remedy used by grandmothers and great-grandmothers that is thought to “draw out” the fever: soak a couple washcloths in diluted apple cider vinegar (1 part vinegar and 2 parts water), then place them on the forehead and tummy, or add a cup to a warm bath.
  • Wellness Mama suggests trying a warm bath with epsom salts or magnesium and a sprinkle of powdered ginger to help alleviate muscle aches. DO NOT try a cold bath because it will shock her body, which is counterproductive. You can also try a sponge bath, as the water evaporating from your skin will cool down the body.
  • Arnica gel is what Modern Alternative Mama uses to help with body aches.

Top Natural Remedies to Ease Stuffy Noses and Coughing  (While Fighting Bacteria + Viruses)

Over the years, I've witnessed the power of how simple elements found in nature can work wonders in my own kids.  We very rarely visit the doctor for anything that doesn't require serious medical intervention anymore.

  1. Diffuse essential oils in a pot of boiling water or with a warm steam humidifier. Some essential oils that are generally considered safe for babies 6+ months and are great for loosening congestion and fighting the cold itself are cedarwood, sandalwood, cinnamon leafthyme, lemon and ginger (NOTE: Be sure to use certified organic essential oils when available to make sure you're not absorbing or inhaling concentrated amounts of harmful chemicals or pesticides used during the growing process)
  2. Add some lavender to the humidifier to help your baby relax
  3. Use Badger Balm Aromatic Chest Rub or make your own DIY Vapor Chest Rub
  4. Place a few drops of preservative free nasal saline drops in baby’s nose and gently suction with the amazingly effective Nosefrida (see our how-to video here)
  5. Give her Hyland's Baby Tiny Cold homeopathic tablets
  6. Try Maty's organic cough syrup (it really works for babies 1 year and up, and has no artificial dyes or other nasty ingredients)

TIP: Be sure to choose non-toxic essential oil diffusers too so you're not ruining your perfectly wonderful essential oils with toxic chemicals from the plastic!

A Few Notes on Essential Oil Safety

  • Remember to NEVER use any essential oils directly on baby without proper dilution with a carrier oil, and be sure to choose only those that are known to be safe for children.
  • Choose 100% pure essential oils and be sure to use certified organic when available to make sure you’re not absorbing or inhaling extremely concentrated amounts of harmful chemicals or pesticides used during the growing process.
  • ALWAYS keep essential oils out of reach of children. Use only eucalyptus radiata for children under 6, or substitute lemon or oregano essential oils in its place.

For more information, please see this helpful article on safe essential oils for babies and children.

  1. Quick question – I’m new to this whole essential oil thing… can you put all of the above together in a humidifier? Or are certain ones better together but not with others? Thanks so much for your help!

  2. My little man recently started getting congested. Unfortunately he got it from me. 🙁 he woke up at 4 am and couldn’t breathe very well cause his nose was so stuffed. I saw sat up in bed and put him on my chest and he went right back to sleep.

    I recently read that you could put garlic on their feet?? Haven’t tried it yet.

  3. My 6 month old has the flu! I took my son Sunday afternoon to an urgent care clinic, he wasnt acting himself his temp was 102 they gave him Tylenol and told me to continue it till the fever went down.I didn’t likethe idea but I went along with it because I hate seeing him sick.I gave him the Tylenol every 4 hours the temp stood the same I read this article and decided to no give him anymore and just let his body fight it. any other pointers?

    1. Oh no Tiffany, sorry your little guy is sick! I’m glad you decided to move away from Tylenol. Besides the tips we’ve listed above, you may be able to help reduce the fever slightly by sponging/bathing with tepid water (never cold water), placing a cool cloth on the forehead, keeping him hydrated with at least 4oz of water or bone broth each hour. We also like to brew Organic Heartburn Tea from Earth Mama and make popsicles out of it so that the babies stay hydrated and also benefit from the healing herbs ( Once last thing you might try is the Magic Sock treatment ( Hope he gets better soon! ~Alicia

  4. You mentioned the Badger Balm Aromatic Chest Rub above. Is this safe for an 18month old. I have read conflicting information about whether eucalyptus, peppermint, and Rosemary were safe for children under 6 years.

  5. Thank you, very informative, I have a question – has anyone tried shungite water? One of my friends advised me to try it, in his case it helped. If anybody faced this situation and tried it please advise.

  6. My son is 9mos and has a really nasty cold/cough. No fever just runny nose and sinus drainage that is causing him to cough. His eyes are red and irritated from coughing so much. What do you recommend for helping ease his cough?

  7. Hi Stacy, Lavender seems to work wonders for young children and it’s safe for use in moderation with them. I’d suggest using a few drops at a time in your diffuser (and a drop or two of basil) to act as a passive breathing treatment. You can also give them green tea sweetened with raw honey and a dash of cinnamon for an added boost to their immune systems. Our kids love tea popsicles too! ~Laura

  8. I have a two month old that is currently sick.. She has a slightly stuffy nose, slight cough, and feels a little warm.. Are these methods considered safe for her? I’m wondering because I had noticed you said “oils approved for 6+ months”.. If not do you have any other suggestions? This is my first baby so I’m a little nervous but I know she isn’t sick enough to need a doctors visit yet.

  9. What brand essential oils do you use? I ordered mines on amazon , but I’m worried because so many ppl make fake oils.

    1. No! No! There can be many things in those. Please check out Young Living, they have a seed to seal process and I trust NO other oils for me and my family. I can discuss this in more detail if you wish?

  10. Would be great to learn more about effects of every type of oil’s. And it’s also interstinf which brand do you exactly recommend?

  11. My guy is 6 months just caught his first cold 1 week after i stopped nursing :'( his cough is horrible and he is caughing all night 🙁 help please ♡♡ love your advice and tips ♡♡

    1. That’s so hard, Leora! For babies, we use humidifiers and make sure they’re staying well hydrated. Plain water goes a long way in helping speed recover. In addition to the tips in our post, we also recommend Maty’s baby chest rub to ease cold symptoms in little bodies. Hope that helps! ~The Soft Landing Sisters

    1. Certified aromatherapist do not recommend oils on children under 2. Thieves have many oils that are considered “hot oils” that may react to adults much less babies. You can go to plant therapy website for more information.not a mlm company so they are trying to get you to sign up or giving out wrong information from untrained reps

  12. Rocky mountain Oils has really good quality oils which I have been ordering for years. I also order some things through Young Living.

  13. Thank you for this article, I’m a little confuse while reading towards the end of the aritlce. If you says not to use undiluted oil directly to the skin, doesn’t an 100% pure essential oils undiluted?

  14. Hi there since my son was born and also being pregnant I used gentle baby!!! He is currently 8 months old and still use gentle baby with lavender mixed with carrier oil everyday but I am concerned that he is getting sick!! I’m just researching that you can put the oils in the humidifier? Cold and hot steam?? Just looking for some advice or would it be better to put some oils in a pot of boilin water on our wood stove ? I have the humidifiers going all the time because of the woodstove!!!

    1. Yes! We run humidifiers frequently in the cold months, and we definitely use essential oils in them. Both hot and cold humidifiers work, but it’s possible that your humidifier can remain scented for quite a while after use. If your humidifier is whole-house, then you can purchase a cheap humidifier or diffuser instead. To use essential oils in your humidifier, just put a few drops in the water to diffuse them into the air. We normally recommend diffusing oils for 30 minutes at a time with at least a 30 minute break in between. Then just be sure to clean your humidifier thoroughly when you’re done and it’ll be good as new. Cleaning with vinegar can help remove the smell of the oils as well. ~Laura

  15. Appreciating the time and effort you put into your website and in-depth information you offer. You’ve really covered up almost all the possible tips that every mom should follow. Worth sharing! Please do continue sharing tutorials and tips on tricks! Thanks for your help!

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