14 Mom-Tested Home Remedies to Fight Colds & Flu

Flu and cold season is in full swing, which means it’s time to stock up on home remedies to help soothe your kids if they catch a cold. From painful headaches to coughs that just won’t quit, these simple ways to treat illness at home will bring your little ones some comfort when they need it the most. From sore throat natural remedies to how to deal with a kids’ stomach bug, keep reading for some natural ways Dr. Mom can save the day.

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Ailment: Headache

Lina Kivaka

Solution: Homemade headache relief balm

Headaches can happen for any number of reasons, but one thing is certain—kids and headaches do not mix. If your little is too young for swallowing pills or you prefer a more natural method, creating a homemade headache relief balm will get everyone feeling better in a jiffy. A combination of coconut butter and various essential oils come together to create a soothing balm that is applied to the temples, neck or anywhere you feel a headache coming on.

Ailment: Ear Pain

Karly Wood

Solution: A rice or salt sock

Whether its a side effect from a cold or the flu, or your little one needs a chiropractic adjustment, ear pain is no joke. A simple way to relieve pain in the ear and jaw is by taking a sock and filling with either rice or coarse, sea salt. Add a few drops of lavender oil, and tie off the end. Microwave with caution or heat on a clean skillet, and then lay the warmed sock across the ear and jaw. The rice and salt retain heat exceptionally well and can even help shift the pressure in the ear!

If you are concerned about an ear infection, always check with your doctor.

Ailment: Everyone in the House Is Sick Except You/One Kid


Solution: Wash your hands, up your intake of vitamin C & drink a ton of water (Add probiotics if there’s tummy trouble afoot).

It’s every parent’s worst scenario: one by one, family members fall victim to the dreaded stomach bug/flu/hacking cough. While there’s not one thing you can do to guarantee you won’t get sick too (besides praying for mom immunity), there are a few tried and true methods recommended by doctors and nurses alike. Number one? Washing hands, like, a lot. Number 2, beef up the Vitamin C intake. Rule number 3? Drink twice as much water as you think you need to. And then another glass. Number 4? If stomach ailments are taking hold, add probiotics to your diet to keep more of the good bacteria hard at work.

Ailment: Cough

Lindsay Moe via Unsplash

Solution: Honey

Over the counter cough syrups are not recommended for kids under age six. The good news is, honey is as effective as cough syrup at reducing nighttime coughing. The natural antidote is also rich in nutrients and antioxidants, so it’s no wonder that honey is also a soothing agent included in many throat lozenges, cough syrups and cough drops. When you look for the best spoonful of honey to give your kids, opt for a local variety of honey that is raw, unfiltered and organic. Dark honey also has more antioxidants and Manuka honey is queen when it comes to delivering the most health benefits.

Warning: Due to the risk of botulism, NEVER give honey to a child younger than age one.

Ailment: Dehydration

John Revo Puno via Flickr

Solution: Coconut water

Keeping up with fluid intake is very important when fighting a cold and a fever. When sipping plain water isn’t appetizing or causes nausea, serve up one of nature’s best hydrating drinks: coconut water. This wonder drink also replaces the body’s electrolytes and minerals and causes less stomach upset than electrolyte-enhanced sports drinks. You may not be able to stick a straw straight into a raw coconut, but your grocery store has a variety of bottled coconut water flavors, which makes it easier to find coconut water your kiddo will like. Look for 100% coconut water and avoid added artificial ingredients.

Ailment: Overall Discomfort & Unease

Solution: Diffuse essential oils

It’s never been easier to diffuse essential oils for your kid’s overall sense of well-being. Young Living has the most adorable kid-centric Ultrasonic Diffusers: Dolphin Reef and Dino Land (which also double as multifunctional nightlights). Both emit their beneficial KidScents oils as color-illuminated vapor and make the perfect addition to your kiddo’s bedroom decor. When your little one has a cold, reach for the KidScents essential oil that will best help rejuvenate them based on their symptoms. The collection includes an array of oils that have antiviral and antimicrobial properties such as eucalyptus oil as well as comforting oils such as lavender and ginger root oil. We love SniffleEase™ and TummyGize™ to soothe cold and flu-related symptoms and SleepyIze™ is the perfect blend of oils including Roman chamomile, lavender and valerian root oil to send them off to dreamland at bedtime.

Note: Young Living Essential Oils are not intended to treat, diagnose or cure diseases, but they can support and maintain overall wellness.

Ailment: Sore Throat/Lengthy Flu or Virus


Solution: Elderberry syrup

Elderberry is a potent, multipurpose remedy found in nature that has been acclaimed for centuries. Its healing powers and immune-boosting properties include reducing symptoms of a cough, sore throat and cold-like symptoms as well as protecting the body from the flu when used preventively. When taken within the first 24-48 hours of illness, elderberry has been found to lessen the duration of the flu by 50%. Arm your family with a bottle of organic GaiaKids Black Elderberry Syrup which you can buy at your local health food store and some drug stores carry it as well. Kids will like the taste of the powerful purple berries condensed into this sweet syrup, but there are plenty of additional creative ways to serve elderberry to your little ones. Check out these clever, helpful recipes which detail how to make elderberry gummies, elderberry slushies and more. GaiaKids also contains organic honey which provides the added benefit of support for the upper respiratory system.

Note: Kids under age one should not take elderberry syrup. Since this product contains honey, it should never be given to a child under the age of one.

Ailment: Nausea

Dominik Martin

Solution: Ginger & lemon tea

A spot of tea is the answer for many ailments. For instance, this cold-busting wellness tea recipe is just what the doctor ordered on the path to recovery. If your kids are nauseous/vomiting or have tummy upset, fresh ginger root and lemon tea will help soothe the stomach while boosting immunity. Not an actual tea per se, the lemon and ginger are served in hot (warm for kids) water to be sipped. Slow boil the sliced ginger root in a saucepan for 15 minutes, turn down to simmer and then add the vitamin C rich juice from half a lemon and let it simmer for 15 more minutes. If your kids need a bit of sweetness, add in a drop or two of honey.

Ailment: Can’t Keep Food Down/Throat Hurts Too Much to Swallow

Wanderson91 via Pixabay

Solution: Popsicles

We’ve all heard about kids sticking to ice chips if they can’t keep any food or liquids down or have a bad sore throat. Popsicles offer an appealing way to keep kids hydrated and soothed because they think they’re getting a treat. Keeping up with fluid intake can help thin mucus and lessen congestion from a chest cold. You can either make your own popsicles using fruits and veggies or pick up a box of 100% fruit popsicles at the store.

Ailment: Fever

Sour Lemon Beverage Co.

Solution: Apple cider vinegar

You may have heard of putting your child in a lukewarm bath to bring his/her fever down, but did you know that adding a cup of apple cider vinegar to the bath water is a decades-old natural fever reduction remedy? If your kiddo isn’t feeling up for getting in the tub, you can also place several drops of apple cider vinegar on a warm, damp washcloth or warm compress and lay it across your child’s forehead.

Good to know: Apple cider vinegar also helps prevent the cold/flu virus from settling in your kiddo’s system for the long haul. Treat your kiddo with a tasty version like the one from Sour Lemon Beverage Co. Slurp down raw ACV easily with flavors like Limeade and Strawberry Lemonade and enjoy a happy gut at the same time.

Ailment: Upset Stomach/Stomach Cramps

rawpixel via Unsplash

Solution: Peppermint tea 

Peppermint has long been used to soothe stomach ailments: upset stomach, mild nausea, stomach cramps and even IBS. It can be served iced or hot, depending on the kid and even a mild tea is effective. One word of caution: peppermint can exacerbate heartburn so avoid using it if the stomach ailments are coming from obvious indigestion rather than a bug. 

Ailment: Blocked/Stuffy Nose

Solution: Nasal aspirator/Saline spray

When your baby is too young to blow his/her own nose during a cold, a nasal aspirator is a God-send (Hello Nose Frida!). Keeping those tiny nostrils clear by removing mucus so baby can breathe freely will make him/her much more comfortable. Choose an easy to clean aspirator that you’re comfortable using to get the job done quickly.

Older kids can find relief in nasal saline spray or drops that can be placed up their nostrils to clear passageways and relieve stuffiness. Once you administer the spray, have your child gently blow his/her nose to remove mucus.

Ailment: Difficulty Breathing While Lying Down

Dolapo Falola via Flickr

Solution: Cool mist humidifier

In addition to propping your kid’s pillows so they can sleep in a more upright position to achieve easier breathing, a cool mist humidifier will help break up mucus, relieve congestion and coughing and provide humidity in the air which can help keep nasal and throat passages hydrated. Additionally, the humidity also aids in fighting the flu virus by decreasing its chance of survival in the air and on surfaces. (source)

Ailment: Can’t Stop Coughing to Catch Some ZZZs


Solution: All natural vapor rub & cough medicine

When you use natural ingredients, you don’t have to worry about any of the icky, harmful additives like petroleum and hydrogenated oils and GMOs found in many OTC cold remedies for kids. We love Maty’s All Natural Vapor Rub for Children and All Natural Baby Chest Rub for babies because they are formulated with age-appropriate dilutions of essential oils that safely and effectively relieve symptoms of coughing and stuffiness. Maty’s line of cough syrups (powered by potent honey) that target a variety of cold symptoms also get a big thumbs-up from us for relying on the power of nature to bring relief to babies and kids.

––Beth Shea

Feature photo: Bluebird Provisions via Unsplash


Disclaimer: We are not health professionals. These are simple solutions you can try at home to relieve cold symptoms. The content herein is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always check with your child’s doctor for the best course of treatment for their ailment.



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