photo credit

The final edition of Food Roots will run next Thursday. My apologies for not posting yesterday.

Our 14 month old woke up yesterday morning with a runny nose and this morning had a bit of a cough. We are thankful that it hasn’t gotten too bad, but still we want to make sure that we make him comfortable and assist his body in ridding whatever it is that is causing his symptoms.

Because he is just learning to do things like talk and drink from a cup it is a bit more tricky than treating our 3 year old or one of the adults in our home. We are using the same foods and supplements as we would for myself or my husband, but in smaller quantities and at times hidden in familiar foods.

So today I thought I would share the things that have worked for us in treating a cold in our toddler, or anyone else for that matter. And if you have any tips I would love to hear them.

  • Breastfeed. It might sound strange that a woman who feeds her toddler bottles of milk would say to breastfeed. The fact is if I could I would, but sadly he self-weaned a few months ago and while I have attempted to reintroduce him to it in the past, he simply refuses to nurse. But, if you have maintained a milk supply for your toddler, have a friend who is nursing a baby, or can pump extra milk because you are breastfeeding a baby yourself, then breast milk would be a wonderful immune boosting food for your toddler, sick or not.
  • Take them off of dairy. We are big fans of the raw dairy products that we pick up from a local farm every week. That said dairy in general can be mucus forming for those who are suffering from any ailment, so removing dairy from the diet seems to be helpful. He’s not too happy about this right now because he still loves his bottles, but water and coconut milk should keep him plenty hydrated.
  • No Sugar of Sugar Forming Foods. Generally speaking we don’t give our boys sweets, but especially when their immune system is being challenged we try to limit fruits and starchy foods as well. Many studies show that sugar can bring the immune system down for hours after consumption.
  • Cod liver oil. Vitamin D is so important for so many reasons. We have been sneaking in cod liver oil wherever we can – bottles, mixing it into food, and trying (not so successfully) to give it to him on a spoon. We use the brand found on my resources page.
  • Coconut oil. Because coconut oil is an antiviral it is another great fat to give to anyone, especially someone with a cold. I have been putting it on squash instead of butter, mixing it into soaked oatmeal, and giving it to both him and our 3 year old off of a spoon. They love it!
  • Vitamin C. We all know that vitamin C is great for fighting colds, but juice contains lots of sugar (even if it is naturally derived). One option that I read about in Nourishing Traditions is acerola powder. I have this on hand as a supplement and because it is an ingredient in the raw milk baby formula. Acerola is a berry that is very high in vitamin C. Foods like bell peppers and sauerkraut are also good low-sugar vitamin C sources.
  • Probiotics. Speaking of sauerkraut… Since most of our immune system is dependent on the health of our gut then making sure that we are feeding it good bacteria is a good idea. Fermented vegetables are probably a better option than yogurt, kefir, or kombucha. You can also purchase an infant strain of probiotics that is well-matched to the bacteria found in young children.
  • Lots of liquids. To help flush the "ickies" out of their systems giving them plenty of water or chicken stock is a good idea. Some even refer to real chicken stock as "Jewish penicillin" because it was traditionally found to fight off illnesses.
  • Echinacea and/or Elderberry Tinctures. You can purchase children’s echinacea tinctures that are less concentrated and are made using glycerin instead of alcohol. Our 3 year old loves to take his off of a spoon and our toddler doesn’t even notice it when mixed with water.
  • Eucalyptus Essential oil. If you’re familiar with Vick’s vapor rub then you will recognize the smell of this oil. It is great when added to a warm bath. It helps clear out the sinuses and can be rubbed on the chest just before bed time to aid in clearer breathing through the night.

Those are the methods we are using. How about you… do you have any tips for treating a toddler’s (or any other age’s) cold?

This post is a contribution to Fight Back & Frugal Fridays.


15 Responses to Treating a Toddler's Cold

  1. These are great tips! I’m going to print them out and stick them in the Health Section of my Household Binder. I do use medicine like Tylenol and Ibuprofen when I feel my kids need it, but I’ve been working on supporting their immune systems more than treating the symptoms.


  2. Greta says:

    Thank you for the suggestions– I’ll be bookmarking these for later use. I second the breastfeeding– my daughter is very rarely sick, and I think breast milk has much to do with it! The only other thing we ever use for colds is Sinupret (you’ve maybe seen the ads on t.v.). It’s an herbal treatment that’s been used in Europe for decades, with no known side effects, and it definitely works for us! Ironically, the only place that seems to sell it locally, is Walmart– not really the place that comes to mind when I’m looking for natural treatments!


  3. I came down with the beginning of a cold this week and made some stock. No chicken in the house, so just some onion, celery, a few odds and ends like that, and a big piece of kombu. Boiled, simmered for a few hours, and drank the strained broth. I felt SO much better afterwards.


  4. Katie says:

    Crush raw garlic in olive oil and rub on feet ( or back, or whatever). The only way I know to get raw garlic into a child. It is so good for defeating a cold.

    Question on glycerin. Do you know what exactly it is and what it does to a body? I would very much like to make my own herbal tinctures but I am wary of glycerin. It doesn’t strike me as “real food.”


  5. [...] Keep it Real – portioned pie lard30. Laurie31. Shannon (Treating a toddler’s cold)32. Michelle @ Find Your Balance (Slice it stuff it top it eat it)33. ElizabethG (Frugal Fall [...]

  6. [...] nurturer of the family to boost our immune systems and increase my family’s overall health.  This particular post was so inspiring to me that I loaded the kids up and trekked 20 minutes to Whole Foods!  It was [...]

  7. Maris says:

    We do all the above for our children as well. I think the hardest thing for them is keeping them off dairy. (even if it is raw!)

    I wanted to add what we have just recently been doing that has helped so much. You mentioned eucalyptus essential oil, which is great, but we have also been using a lot of other essential oils for ailments. I personally use Young Living oils because I know they are the best quality available, although they are more expensive.

    We have used the RC and Raven blends for respiratory issues. My daughter would get a cough and not stop for weeks. The RC helped shorten the intensity and duration of her bouts significantly. Peppermint oil will open your sinuses up incredibly when breathed from the bottle or off a steamy pot of water. Lavender will take the heat and pain out of a burn in seconds!

    I also use a neti pot for clearing sinuses, wit and without oils. While that is difficult with a small child, my 7 year old has learned how to use one.

    I have been so excited to learn about essential oils and their biblical applications. I have prayed for more effective natural applications and have been AMAZINGLY happy about how the oils have increased healing in many areas of our lives, and especially with our 7 children.

    Hope that will be a help to some of you!


    allison balser Reply:


    My name is Allison and I have a 4 year old boy and a 9 month old baby girl.
    I just read your response to the Nourishing Days website about colds, and I am interested in how you use the YL oils with your children, if you don’t mind my asking. Do you dilute it and where do you get the essential oil glass bottles? I have some also from young living but they are just sitting there getting dusty and I want to begin using them on my children and myself, especially since my son will begin preschool in the fall and I know that the first year is when they are exposed to so many colds and viruses.

    Thank you for any advice and help in this matter. You are my hero, rearing so many children! What a blessing. How do you keep from getting tired?

    In appreciation,


    Maris Reply:

    @allison balser,
    We personally do not dilute the oils unless there is a burning sensation on the spot. Then we apply a vegetable oil or coconut oil for instance. That will ease any discomfort. I have used the oils even more regularly with continued success. I am so thankful to have an effective natural alternative.

    Buying a copy of Essential Oils Desk Reference has been a tremendous help in using the oils. I also had dusty bottles for a few years until a good friend began educating me on how to use them. Feel free to email me personally, and I can look up any problems in my book and share recommended oils and/or treatment. Also try . There are a lot of recommendations there from others who have personally used the oils with success. My email is

    And thank you for the kind words. I do get tired, but feel very blessed. Never thought I would have so many children, but can’t imagine life without all these wonderful people under my roof!


    Maris Reply:

    When you said, “Where do you get Young Living glass bottles” did you mean where do I get my oils?

  8. Lyndsay says:

    Breastfeeding has nothing to do with it. I was unable to breastfeed my 16 1/2 month old and she has been sick once.


  9. r j says:

    Try Carlsons lemon flavored cod liver oil most kids love it!


  10. Sarah says:

    I agree with the breastfeeding. I couldn’t breast feed my son for longer than 2 weeks and he is always sick… My daughter I breast fed for 3 months and she is almost never sick. My little guy is sick right now and I do give Tylenol and I tried Benadryl but with no help. Now I have the humidifier going with the Vicks and warm apple juice to drink. I read that on another site. :)


  11. Shannon says:

    Katie – I do not have all the answers on glycerin. It is kind of a mystery, isn’t it?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.