Over the counter (OTC) cold and cough medicines should not be given to children under 6, and especially not to babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises doctors to always recommend more natural remedies for babies when they contract a cold. OTC medicines have been shown to have dangerous side effects in babies, and even if this doesn't happen, the medicines won't help your baby get over a cold sooner. You should always think carefully before you dose a young child or baby with OTC cold medicine. Here are some natural cold remedies you can try for your baby's symptoms:
Breast milk is one of the best remedies any time your baby gets sick. It helps boost the baby's immune system, and transfers some of your resistance to the baby. Increase your feeding schedule to help your baby's cough.
A natural oil rub can also help sooth a cough. Mix 3 to 4 teaspoons of olive oil with 2 to 3 drops of eucalyptus, rosemary and peppermint oil. Rub the mixture on the baby's chest and back. This works especially well at night, because the rosemary can help the baby sleep while the eucalyptus eases the coughing.
Congestion is simple to relieve with steam. You can simply stand in the bathroom and run a hot shower to make the air steamy. Stay in there for a few minutes with your baby, and it will help to clear her airway.
Another option is to give the baby a warm bath, and add a few drops of essential oils to the bathwater. Eucalyptus is a natural oil that helps to clear the airway, and you can also try sage or thyme drops. Running a humidifier in the baby's room can help keep the air moistened as well, which will relieve both coughing and congestion.
Some saline drops and a bulb syringe are the way to go when your baby's nose is runny or clogged with mucous. Use a dropper to put a few saline drops into one nostril, and then use the rubber bulb syringe to suck the mucous out. Repeat on the other nostril. This is uncomfortable for the baby, but the relief from the runny nose will be quick, which is the goal.
A baby with a fever can be one of the scariest moments for parents. A fever is the body's way of naturally fighting off an infection, but if the baby's temperature gets too high, you'll want to take steps to relieve it. Ask your doctor about using either infant ibuprofen or a similar remedy for a fever. (Make sure you ask at a regular appointment with your pediatrician; babies tend to get fevers in the middle of the night, when you can't reach your doctor.)
When to Be Concerned
If your baby is 3 months old or less, you should give the doctor a call any time signs of sickness appear. A baby this young should not have a temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. From 3 to 6 months, call the doctor if her fever gets above 101 degrees, and after 6 months, call the doctor if a fever climbs above 103 degrees.
You should also call the doctor if cold symptoms appear to be getting worse, or if a fever lasts longer than 2 days. Any significant change in the baby's feeding or sleeping habits during sickness should be cause for concern.