Natural Prevention and Treatment of Colds in Children

| Modified on Jan 05, 2016

As a penny saved is a penny earned, a cold prevented is misery deterred. Natural remedies and treatments for children's colds make life much easier for the little ones.

While children are not generally quick to share their toys, sharing germs has never been their problem.  Minimizing the spread of germs and keeping the immune system healthy are the best ways to avoid colds.

Washing hands after restroom visits, before meals and when you arrive home from being out for the day makes sense.  Using a natural hand sanitizer is also helpful.  (Do avoid triclosan as using it regularly is not beneficial for long term health!)

Exercise, sunshine and rest: Do not underestimate the value of old-fashioned exercise, sunshine and adequate rest - all very helpful to the immune system.

Garlic and Astragalus Root: During cold season, or whenever it seems that something is "going around," let your food be your preventative medicine.  Adding some fresh garlic to soup, salads, rice, etc. is a simple preventative measure.  Astragalus root is a great immune booster and can also be added to soups and rice.  My children do not even notice when I have added it to a dish.

Fruits, especially berries, are good preventative medicine.  The old saying "An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away" is not unfounded.

Here are a few things we do around our house to reduce the misery and duration of colds when cold symptoms begin.

Hydrogen Peroxide for Ears - When a cold virus gets into the ears, ear congestion, infection and pain are all quite miserable.  We put a few drops of hydrogen peroxide into the ears several times a day.

Saline Spray for the Nose - Old fashioned saline spray is truly helpful.  You can buy saline spray or make your own.

  • I add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to 1 cup of distilled water. 
  • It can be put into a dropper bottle and put into the child's nose a few times a day, or it can be put into an empty nasal spray bottle.  (Each child should have his own nasal sprayer if you use this route.) 
  • The salt kills germs and the spray helps the nose to feel moist and not dry.

Salt Water Throat Gargle - Gargling salt water is a cheap and simple solution for sore throats that accompany colds.

  • Add 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon salt to 1/4 cup of warm water.
  • If a child is too young to gargle, you can add the salt water to a spray bottle and spray his throat a few times a day instead.

Colloidal Silver - If you have colloidal silver on hand, it may be used for the ears, nose and throat instead of the remedies listed above. Once a cold has begun in any form, treating the ears, nose and throat will help even before symptoms develop in those areas.

Healing Baths - I give healing baths to my children for all sorts of conditions, and colds are no exception.

  • 1/2 cup epsom salt or 1/2 cup baking soda (or both) can be added to a warm tub of water.  A child can play in the water for 20 minutes or as desired.
  • I sometimes add 1 drop of essential oil to the bath. (Lavender for its relaxing effect, Eucalyptus for congestion, or Peppermint for fever.)

Yes: Soups, broths, teas and juices should be offered liberally during a cold.

No: Milk, cheese, and ice cream should be avoided during colds as they increase mucous production.

Vinegar Tea - I often make vinegar tea for my children at the first sign of a cold. For very small children, just a few teaspoons of the tea every hour would be wonderful.

  • 1 teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar to a mug;
  • 2 teaspoons of honey;
  • 4 ounces of hot water.  

Any child's sickness is a special opportunity for parents and caregivers to give some extra love and attention to the child.  Back rubs, extra story time, and just the nurture and attention that comes from bringing curative foods and teas to the child are healing in and of themselves.

Please see the following pages for more information about natural treatments for a variety of specific cold symptoms:

Please keep reading below to see what others have found to be helpful in treating colds in children!  Tell us about your favorite natural remedies for children's colds.

Apple Cider Vinegar

3 User Reviews
5 star (3) 

Posted by Natalie (Mesa, Az, Usa) on 01/13/2012

My 5yr old son and I had caught a nasty cold tht has been going around and has taking most around a month to kick. He had the worst chest congestion and cough. I gave him a 1 Tbs of apple cider vinegar and put it in 8 oz of apple juice he drank it with no problem, but he said mom I think this juice is rotten; haha, I added I little honey he couldn't tell the diff. it worked so well it was the only thing that would stop the cough no otc was helping..

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Piper (Toronto, On) on 09/21/2010

Daughter aged 6 had a cold, so I put ACV and water in a mug (1:1) with tsp of honey. About 1/4-1/3 cup of liquid in total. Warmed in microwave. Gave to her on tsp as much as I could get her to take. Next day cold much better, so a bit more and the next day the cold was gone. Other daughter, aged 8 caught the cold. Same mixture but I gave her the dose with the squirt syringes you get with medicine so I could give her a bit more. Next day there was no cold.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Donna (Corona, CA) on 12/05/2006

My 9 yr old daughter was sick and out of school for a whole week. I was giving her cough medicine, cough drops wasn't working so I took her to the DR. and they gave her some stronger cough medicine and antibiotic's. It wasn't working neither. It got a little better after giving her the entire bottle, but it wasn't completely gone. After sending her back to school for two days, we had a wind storm and it got really cold so she got back sick at school playing outside in the cold. The bad cough and cold came back so this time I went and got $25.00 worth of over the counter cold medicine and a vapor risor, multi-vitamins with extra C etc.. She was still coughing non stop after all this medication and I decided to go online and see what kind of home remedy I could find. God as my witness, it was like a miracle when I gave my 9 yr old the vinegar (2 tble spoon Heinz Apple Cider Vinegar) and water mixture she stopped coughing after about 30 minutes. She was coughing so bad I felt helpless and didn't know what else I could do. After only1 dosage the cough stopped for about 4 hours after that it started back a little and I gave her some more and she's been fine and back to school without any problems. Thank you for a very valuable site! It's amazing I have another story about my son who later that evening got food poisoning from McDonalds and I came to the site for more advice. I gave him 2 tble spoon of vinegar and he's 11 year old. He was fine after that and went to sleep without throwing up or being up all night. The next morning he ate breakfast without any problem. Before when he had food poison it was a night mare I'll never forget. I was up with him all night and he was constantly throwing up. I wish I had of found this when my first child which is 19 yrs old now was born.

Cayenne and Hydrogen Peroxide

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Sheikh (Bayshore, New York) on 04/19/2007

Ceyenne Pepper remedy and H2O2 remedy: These two remedies are unbelievable!!! My 5 yr old daughter keeps acquiring the cold bug after every couple of weeks. Often times, her cold requires an anntibiotic as a last resort and lot of absent days from school. However, in my quest for a better and a natural alternative, I came across this website. I decided to follow the advice for using ceyenne pepper for the sore throat and H2O2 for her cold. Viola!! Miracle. Since she is only 5 yrs, she could not really gargle, however, she was able to take a sip of cayenne pepper water, and while holding her breath she held her neck back for a couple of seconds. This way the ceyenne pepper liquid could actually stay in contact with her throat for a couple of a seconds at a time. She felt a lot better after the remedy, and was actually able to go to school this morning.

Now for the H2O2, I mixed one cap of 3% in a half glass of water. Poured 3 drops in each ear. In between the the two ears, I gave a couple of minutes on each side as suggested by all people who had positive results. This morning she woke up with slight nasal congestion but no pain in her throat. awesome!! Thank you all

Cayenne, ACV and Baking Soda

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Sheryl (Edison, NJ) on 12/11/2007

My 3 year old had a very bad cough, chest congestion and fatigue for 2 days...i gave him lemon juice and acv baking soda. No much effect on cough and it was getting worse. Finally mixed 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne in 2 teaspoon of ACV baking soda with 1 teaspoon water. Cough stopped instantly and in 10 mins he was playing. chest congestion cleared 80%. Thank you earthclinic. i visit this website regularly.

Colloidal Silver

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by London (Sandusky, Ohio) on 04/08/2011

I mix a few teaspoons of Clover Honey with a few dropperfuls of Colloidal Silver shake it up, and (store it in a Dropper bottle) and give that to my 4 year old daughter when she is sick or under the weather. I know many people are a bit hesitant about Colloidal Silver, but Ive taken alot of it daily before and I didnt turn into a smurf, lol!! It seems to help her get thru the flu season.

ALONG WITH THAT, and I know I cant say brand names or names of specific companies on this website, but I order this stuff called "Herbs for Kids", Sweet Echinacea, they make several homeopathic childrens syrups, but that one does not taste bad, as my daughter is very finicky about that, and it works!! My mother and I went to the hospital one year, cuz we were sick as dogs, and my daughter did not contract the illness at all. I order from a discount vitamin website (a very well known one actually, just google "discount Vitamins"), with customer reviews, so you know exactly what your buying. They carry all manner of herbal products for children on there, its wonderful.

Replied by London
(Sandusky, Ohio)

Update:: Please don't store the honey colloidal silver mixture in dropper bottle, it XPIRES after 3 days and can blow up and go rancid. The dropper rubber plastic thing was expanding, I had to throw away.

Now I use a plastic medicine cup, and mix it in there or use a honey based herbal childrens syrup, and mix it with that in the cup and give it to her. Homeopathic remedies which can be bought at health food stores or ordered online are great.

Colloidal Silver, Manuka Honey, Saline Nasal Spray

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Katzie (Calgary) on 11/26/2015

My 14 yr old son came home from school and one look at his bleary eyes and I knew he was getting sick. He was stuffed up in one nostril, had a sore throat and a slight fever. I gave him 1 teaspoon "silver water" (as we call it), and 1 teaspoon Manuka Honey (with a K Factor of 16), 3x per day, as well as the saline nasal spray; and lo and behold, that kid was better the next morning and all better the day after that.

I also believe in Hydrogen Peroxide drops in the ears, but he won't let me do that anymore. I hadn't read of the power of colloidal silver as relates to colds before, so that's why I posted this.

The manuka honey helped soothe his sore throat, and my son calls it "medicine-tasting honey", which is accurate, but Manuka Honey is just plain miraculous in too many ways to list here, and did the job I wanted it to in this instance.

Also, the nasal spray is a good and natural treatment that my son said really helped his congestion. Natural treatments are very powerful, I can attest to that. This is one very knowledgeable crowd in here and they have never ever let me down, and I just wanted to share something I thought of myself. Thank you, Earth Clinic. I wouldn't have known anything without you.


1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Jill (Twin Falls, ID) on 10/30/2008

For years and with my children growing up I have used soft gel garlic capsules. The first onset of a cold I take or give my children 2-5 of the soft gel capsules. By the next morning you are expelling green guck. Garlic really does help and cure colds. I am a believer! I have had strep throat many many times in my life and I still have my tonsils after 50 years and I say it is due to the garlic that I have taken. When I get sick my throat area is the weak point of my body and that is what I usually get is a cold other wise I am a well individual.