What to do when baby is having cough/flu/congestion?

What to do when baby is having cough/flu/congestion?

Baby having flu?
Coughing non-stop?
Unable to feed or sleep due to congestion?
Read this before you choose to give antibiotics for treating common cold.

Medicines usually just subside the symptoms and do not treat the cause. Antibiotics are often recommended without ensuring that the condition is actually due to a bacteria and not a virus because antibiotics can NEVER treat a viral infection. Also, frequent use of antibiotics reduces their efficacy and hence it is often observed that the condition of the baby does not get better even after an antibiotic. Unless tests are conducted and a bacterial infection is confirmed or unless the medicine is prescribed by a reliable medical practitioner, it should be avoided. Mostly, cold/cough/flu is self limiting and gets better in 7-10 days. In the meanwhile, you can refer to the below age appropriate recommendations to ease the baby’s discomfort.

Babies aged 0-6 months

  1. Put saline drops in the baby’s nostrils to ease his breathing. Use a suction pump some time after administering the drops to clear the nose.
  2. Keep the room humid and arrange for steam for the baby. You can either use a humidifier in the room or a steamer near the baby. Giving the baby daily warm baths in a temperature regulated room is also a good way to give steam to the baby.
  3. Ensure that the baby’s head is a little elevated so that he does not feel discomfort due to blocked nose while sleeping. You can use a baby pillow for the purpose.
  4. Burn a clove of garlic in half a cup of mustard oil. Massage the baby’s chest with a drop this warm oil.
  5. Lightly roast 2 tablespoons of carom seeds (ajwain) and wrap it in a small napkin. Put this near the baby so that the light smell/smoke reaches the baby.

Babies aged 6-12 months

In addition to all the suggestions given in the section above, the following can also be used for a baby older than 6 months:

  1. Give warm liquids like mutton stock or warm runny vegetable soup (no chunks). Use only that meat/vegetable that you have already tried for your baby with no reaction.
  2. Add a small cinnamon stick, a green cardamom and a black cardamom to a cup of water and let it boil. Give 1 oz of this tea to your baby 2-3 times a day.


Once the baby turns 1 year, in addition to everything mentioned in the sections above, you can comfortably use honey directly or mixed in warm water or milk to help with cough.

If the symptoms persist and the child’s condition does not get better after a few days, kindly see a pediatrician.

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