Skip to navigation menu Skip to content
Please click here to read our COVID-19 policies and resources before your visit or appointment. X


Close up of a child with a washcloth on her head

Home Remedies to Soothe Your Child's Cold

By Dr. Michelle Brenner, General Academic Pediatrics

Whether your child has a bellyache, stuffy nose or fever, these safe, home remedies can help him feel better fast. You should only treat symptoms if they are causing discomfort or interrupting sleep. If your child’s illness worsens, see your CHKD pediatrician

For a Fever

  • Make sure your child gets plenty of rest and drinks lots of fluids.
  • Put a cool, damp washcloth on her forehead.
  • A lukewarm bath, after a fever reducer is given , may help bring her temperature down.
  • Dress her in a light layer of clothing. If she gets the chills, offer her a light blanket.
  • NEVER give your child aspirin for a fever. It has been linked to a potentially fatal disease called Reye Syndrome.

Call your doctor right away if:

  • your child has a fever and is less than 3 months old.
  • your child has a fever of 101 degrees or higher and is 3-5 months old.
  • your child has a fever of 102 degrees or higher and is 6 months old or older.
  • your child has a fever and has trouble breathing and/or a rash.

For a Sore Throat

  • If your child is one-year-old or older, honey and a splash of lemon juice can help naturally soothe a sore throat. Never give honey to a child younger than 1, as it can cause infant botulism.
  • Children 5 or older can try gargling with salt water. A ½ tsp of salt and one cup of warm water should do the trick.
  • A cup of warm tea can be soothing. Peppermint tea works as an expectorant to help break up mucus and chamomile tea can help stimulate the immune system. Try sweetening it up with a little honey.
  • Consider adding a cool mist humidifier to your child’s room to help moisten the air and help relieve pain caused by a sore throat.

For a Runny Nose

For a Cough

  • Honey and lemon juice also work as a natural suppressant for a cough, but again do NOT give honey to a child younger than 1.
  • A steam bath or simply sitting in a steam filled bathroom with the doors shut can help loosen nasal and chest congestion and make it easier for a child to expel built-up mucus. Adding a few drops of sage or eucalyptus oil to a steam bath will also help open up the chest and soothe a cough.
  • Use a humidifier to keep the air moist and clear.
  • Vapor rub or balms containing essential oils such as eucalyptus or sage can also help loosen nasal and chest congestion.

For a Headache

  • Tension headaches can be felt as a tight band around the head and are usually brought on by stress or anxiety. Massaging your child’s neck and shoulders can help. Increasing magnesium-rich foods in the diet may also help prevent tension and migraine headaches.
  • Sinus headaches are felt around the eyes and cheeks. Try using lavender and eucalyptus oils to relieve congestion. These essential oils should not be used directly on the skin but mixed into a carrier oil.
  • If your child is complaining of pain around the eyes, he may have an eyestrain headache from reading, too much screen time or other activity. Encourage breaks and make sure he is working with plenty of natural light.
  • Make sure your child is eating well-balanced meals throughout the day to avoid headaches caused by low blood sugar.
  • Make sure your child is drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration headaches.

For a Bellyache

  • Try giving your child chamomile tea. Chamomile tea has anti-inflammatory and sedative properties that will help calm an upset tummy.
  • Ginger may also soothe an upset tummy. While there is very little ginger in traditional ginger ale, it can help. What's even better is fresh ginger tea. However, kids will probably prefer the ginger ale.
  • Peppermint can also soothe an upset stomach.
  • Applying heat while your child is sitting or lying down may help relieve some of the pain.
  • Serve bland foods. They are less irritating and more easily digested than spicy, greasy foods.

Like this post?

Sign up to receive our once monthly email with more kids' health tips from the region's most trusted name in pediatric health care.

About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.