13 Safe Alternatives to Children’s Cold Remedies

The Food and Drug Administration says over the counter cold medicines are unsafe for children. So, what can you do when your child has a cold? An article in the WSJ by By Benjamin Brewer, M.D. says, “The risks with cough-and-cold medication are clear. If you don’t know your phenylephrine from your acetaminophen, you can deliver more potency than you had intended by unknowingly combining products with similar ingredients and confusing chemical names.Overdoses of medication occur all too often; the FDA has linked over-the-counter medicines to 123 pediatric deaths since 1969. Most of the fatalities were in children younger than 2. Whooping cough has already started spreading in our school. For children between the ages of 11-18, the vaccinations they got as babies has weakened. The has caused entire middle schools to close as a result of epidemics. I’m wondering. Do I give my healthy 11-year-old son the booster vaccine? Or do I help him build his immune system?

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While I’m thinking about it, I found 13 alternatives to children’s cough medicines. Use common sense. Check with your doctor if symptoms persist, of course. Each remedy I’ve listed here is linked to its source so that you can check into the source a little more deeper.

  1. Garlic fights colds. While you may not be able to convince your child to chew on a clove, and it might upset his stomach. I have put a sliced clove in the bottom of my child’s sock while they sleep, and the cold is better by morning. If you want to go the extra mile, you can then peel and crush six cloves of garlic. Mix them into 1/2 cup of white lard or vegetable shortening. Spread the mush on the soles of your child’s feet and cover them with a (preferably warmed) towel or flannel cloth. Put plastic wrap under his feet to protect bedding. This is so powerful, the garlic will soon be on your child’s breath, and fighting the virus in his body.
  2. I’ve said this before, and I’ll keep saying this: Apple cider vinegar is one of the best ways to fight a cold and silence a cough. The body becomes more alkaline during a cold and the vinegar will help to re-balance the body’s acid level. Especially one that is in the chest and throat. If your child cannot handle drinking sips of apple cider vinegar mixed with juice or water, you can always use a cotton ball to rub the vinegar on his or her chest. The advantage of this method, is the vinegar travels up the nasal passages and helps to open up the nasal passages as well. Every time I do this to someone who is coughing in the night; the cough settles in about twenty minutes, and we all get our rest. You must repeat this remedy every few hours. But this remedy, I know, zaps a cold.
  3. Sage is an immune builder. Make a tea, with honey if your child is over 1 year of age, of equal parts of cinnamon, (also a virus fighter) sage and bay leaves in hot water. Strain, and before drinking the tea, add 1 tableร‚ยญspoon of lemon juice.
  4. Zicam if taken during the early stages, can zap a cold. Continue reading below:
  5. Ginger is an antiviral herb, containing almost a dozen antiviral compounds. It is valuable for preventing and treating colds, sore throats and inflammation of mucus membranes. So, you can make a tea of drink a tea of fresh ginger. Ginger builds heat in the body. Draw a warm bath, and put about 3-5 tablespoons of fresh ginger, grated, tied in cheese cloth, into the tub. This can help your child sweat away a cold.
  6. It has been theorized that colds begin in the middle ear, not the nose. Here is an interesting theory about using drops of hydrogen peroxide in the middle ear every one or two hours within the first few hours a cold virus strikes. I have since tried this once when I felt that heavy, fluid building up around my throat, and no cold the next morning. But who knows, maybe I didn’t really have a cold yet? A scientist, I am not.
  7. Aromatherapy, or essential oils, are non-toxic and, when used properly, are safe for children. Blends of chamomile, eucalyptus or thyme can help loosen mucus and heal the throat, nasal passages and bronchial tubes.
  8. Here’s a formula called, Cold Combating Blend Orange, – 20 drops
    Eucalyptus- 10 drops
    Juniper Berry, 10 drops Pine Needle – 10 drops
    Basil – 6 drops
    Rosewood – 6 drops
    Ginger – 4 drops Blend all together and us in a diffuser or a few drops in a bath.
  9. Inhalation Blend 2 cups boiling water
    Eucalyptus – 12 drops
    Cedarwood – 6 drops
    Peppermint 6 drops Pour blend into bottle, shake well and then add 5 drops to the boiling water (place in a stainless steel bowl), lean over bowl and place towel over head to inhale the oils. Caution – remember sometimes less in oils is better than more
  10. Ravensara Essential Oil is a powerful anti-infectious, antiseptic, antiviral, anti-asthmatic essential oil. It is non-toxic and safe for children. And a powerful one for sinusitis, bronchitis:
  11. My most powerful remedy, based on personal experience in the herb Thyme. Thyme has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Thymol has a theraputic effect on the lungs. Ingesting or inhaling the oil helps to loosen phlegm and relax the muscles in the respiratory tract. I drink thyme tea (just add the dried herb spice to a cup of tea when you add your favorite tea bag and strain). In extreme cases (before I discovered apple cider vinegar’s potent properties), I dipped cheese cloth into my tea, and put this on my chest with a heating pad to draw out the infection. Now, I simply drink it.
  12. Rhodiola, as a pill, or tincture drops.
  13. Rishi Tea. A powerful immune booster.
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49 comments to “13 Safe Alternatives to Children’s Cold Remedies”
  1. Susie,

    I love this article. I think I will print it and post it on the inside of my kitchen cabinets. As a matter of fact, Sam has a bad cough for which I plan to take him to the doctor b/c he hacks throughout the night. I may also try the vinegar idea.

    Debbie (Sam and Chloe’s Mom)

    P.S. Now the kids always want to take a walk by your house to see if your kids are playing outside…..

  2. I always swear by “uncle jimmy’s cure” which I grew up on, it’s 1 TBS honey, 1TBS apple cider vinegar, in a mug of hot water . . . yeah I know the taste doesn’t sound so appealing, but it grows on you & if a TBS is too strong, start off with a tsp. The honey sooths a sore throat, vinegar cuts the “gunk” along with ,re-balaning the acid levels in your body, and the hot water produces steam which helps your nose as well ๐Ÿ™‚

    And if I were you I’d also go for the booster vaccine! There are some vaccines I wouldn’t recommend (for example BCG), but that one I think is a good idea, but that’s just my 2 pence.

  3. Sara, so glad Uncle Jimmy can validate the apple cider vinegar. I find it an amazing cure-all that definitely fights a cold.

    And Debbie, the kids are welcome anytime. If they’re not out front, they’re in the back.

  4. Man, I could have used this last week, Susie! I was SICK. (still not totally over it, either, oddly).

    When my kids got sick when they were smaller, I never used the cold medicine on them. Maybe some Delsym for a cough, but that was about it. Sometimes, it’s better to let things run their courses.

    Hang in there with the whooping cough. Entire schools are infected? Wow!

    Happy TT! Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I’m so glad that they’re going to stop giving children drugs for colds. Your remedies sound good. Though, an old doctor I knew used to say (someone’s else saying, I suspect): “If you don’t treat a cold, it’ll go away in 7 days; if you treat it, it’ll only take a week.”

  6. You forgot charcoal tablets. Those are wonderful for stomach aches. I give them to my teenagers, although I dont know about the youngsters. I think herbal remedies are wonderful. Thanks so much for the info:) Happy TT.

  7. One of our peds was totally against the cold medicines 15 years ago and we never used them when the kids were little. Some easy ideas here. I would like to try the apple cider remedy.

  8. I love apple cider vinegar, I mix it with water and honey and drink it regularly (preferably cold). I am not sure though if my daughter would let me rub it in her chest due to the strong smell.

    Great list! Good to know there are safe and natural alternatives to meds.

  9. This was a great educational post. I am all about alternative health. When I was a child we grew up on a elderberry jam. Black Elderberry has properties that build the immune system. Also a great anti-vral. They now sell it in healthfood stores call Sambucol. As a child I knew I was far less sick then others. Never knew it could have been attributed to elderberry. Oh and it taste really good. :o)

  10. What a great list! I think I’ll print it out. I would only add to give your kid a lot of sleep. Kid’s lives can get so over scheduled that they don’t sleep. Sleep is a great immune builder!

  11. About the garlic on the feet: The other day I read that doing the same with vicks vapor rub does the trick! Sounds better than garlic on the feet to me ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. This is SO great. Thanks for shraing. I am a frqeunt cough and colds victim. I get it when it’s hot, I get it when it’s cold. I get it anytime.

    I will have to atest to the apple cider vinegar concoction. It saved me. And my little guy.

  13. This is a fabulous list! I’d almost always rather try something natural before going with medicine when someone in our family is sick. I’ll be referring back to this!

  14. Unfortunately I had the opportunity to try the vinegar cure sooner than I would have liked. I came down with a cold yesterday and by last night couldn’t stop coughing even with cough drops and cold medicine. Somewhere in my late-night fogginess I remembered your advice to sip some apple cider vinegar.

    THANK YOU! It worked and I was finally able to sleep.

  15. This is such a great list. I tried some fizzy tablets that dissolve in water that I was told would help—and they did. I forget what they’re called.

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  18. Is it safe to put the garlic on a child’s feet if he is only 1-1/2 years old? I was considering that or rubbing the ACV on his chest for when he is coughing at night. Just didn’t know if he was too young???


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