Rescue remedies

There is no cure for the common cold or flu but here are some tried and true remedies you can turn to when the winter sniffles strike.

"What can't be cured must be endured" is Grandma's maxim for all manner of ills. It's cold comfort but there is a raft of home-made remedies to help you and your children endure when you get sick. These are intended as a guide only. Please consult your doctor or ring Healthline 0800 611 116 if you have any concerns about your child's health.

Colds and flu

  • Lying in a semi-upright position may help your child sleep better. Raise the head of the bassinet or cot for babies.
  • Chicken soup is still a great way to fight infection as it contains naturally anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Blocked up? Let the mucus out by getting your child to sit in a steamy bathroom. If she's willing, do a steam bath with her face over a bowl of hot water containing drops of eucalyptus oil or Karvol or a menthol salve such as Vicks Vapour Rub.
  • Earache is hard on the parent as well as the child and antibiotics may not be the answer. As well as Pamol to ease the pain, try a warm flannel or wheatbag pressed against the ear.
  • Vitamin C, liquid echinacea and garlic capsules are more often used for preventing colds and flu but many believe they can also shorten the life of the illness, particularly if taken within the first few days.
  • A saline spray is often recommended for congested babies who are struggling to feed. It's usually available at pharmacies or prescribed by your doctor. Also try a nasal aspirator. Children over the age of four can try gargling with salted water.
  • Real influenza can make your child very ill and a trip to the doctor is first on the list but unfortunately there's usually little they can prescribe. Paracetamol or ibuprofen are the obvious choices for pain relief and to bring down high temperatures.


  • Menthol rubs and salves are good for night-time coughs, rubbed on the chest and upper back. Some also recommend rubbing it on the soles of the feet. There's no research to back this up, but many swear by it as fail-proof remedy.
  • Another treatment for coughing is a teaspoon of warm honey held in the mouth until it melts and coats the throat, but only for children over the age of one.
  • For dry coughs try a glass of warm-to-hot water.
  • Ginger and turmeric have long been used to treat colds in places such as India. Add half a teaspoon of turmeric powder to warm milk. Or boil a piece of root ginger in water to make a tea. The challenge now is to persuade your child to drink it! 

Sore throat

  • Keep up the fluids by offering a soothing frozen juice or simple ice cube. 


Vomiting and diarrhoea

  • For very little children gastro bugs can be serious as they can dehydrate quickly. 
  • Keep fluids up with diluted juice.
  • If your child wants to eat, offer plain, starchy food such as bread, rice, porridge, potatoes, plain biscuits and yoghurt or custard and stewed apple. Avoid fatty, fried food or sweet foods such as cakes, chocolate or ice cream.


  • Help your little one learn how to blow her nose by having a dry run when she's not too tired or sick. Get her to blow a cotton ball or pencil with her mouth closed or, if you're feeling adventurous, blow out a candle by breathing hard through her nose. Now try with a tissue. Remember, it's all about getting those germs out, into a tissue and into the rubbish. Viruses spread like wildfire through a family or childcare centre, so make sure your young ones know how to wash their hands properly with soap after each nose-blow, sneeze or cough.





Under 5

Copyright © 2019 All Rights reserved.