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13 At Home Common Cold Remedies for When Your Toddler Has a Case of the Coughs and a Runny Nose

Inside: 13 natural common cold remedies for infants, toddlers and children of all age to cure the cough and congestion.

As much as I love fall and season changes, I do not care for the colds that come shortly after. Lennox and I just got over a case of bronchitis last week, and boy did it knock us on our butts. Add allergies and asthma into the mix; we were intertwined with our nebulizer all week.

Now that Lennox has started preschool, common colds are going to be even more prevalent in our household. That’s why I have done a lot of research on the best home and store-bought common cold remedies, and I would like to share some of those with you today.

I love hearing new ideas, so please make sure you share your natural common cold remedies or hacks in the comments below so I can add your idea to this post!

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How to treat the common cold: 13 remedies

1. Vicks VapoRub      

 Lennox’s first symptom of having a cold is a runny nose which quickly turns into a stuffy nose. Those early couple days of the sniffles, I lather Lennox’s chest and back in Vicks VapoRub before nap and bed. I even put it on his feet, underneath socks. An old wives’ tale my MIL insisted I do!!!

Vicks VapoRub is a topical ointment that helps with nasal and chest congestion. Applying it before bed can help open up the air passageways, and soothe the urge to cough.

Please make sure to never, ever apply Vicks to a child under two years of age. There is a Vicks Baby Rub for children three months and older.

2. Incline the bed/crib

When Lennox has the sniffles, I put a pillow/stuffed animal/books under his crib mattress to elevate his head and help drain the sinuses. It is vital to incline the entire bed, and not just add more pillows as that can cause discomfort in your toddler’s neck. 

3. Humidifier

Humidifiers add moisture to the dry air. During the winter and summer, I keep two humidifiers going throughout the house. A cool-mist humidifier will help soothe a case of the coughs if appropriately used.

*To properly use a humidifier, you need to keep it clean. If you do not clean it frequently, it can become moldy and carry bacteria that will foster future colds. The filter also needs to be changed regularly and must be moist during each use.

We use the Vicks Starry Night Humidifier which has a nightlight that Lennox cannot sleep without, and it has a slot to add these Vicks Vapo Pads which disperse Vicks into the air. As for the filters, I have these on my Amazon Subscribe and Save to come every two months, that way I don’t forget to change them.

 4. Boil Water

Another way to release moisture into the air is by boiling water. When we are sick, I do boiil water once a day. I add a tablespoon of Vicks VapoRub to the boiling water to disperse the aromatherapeutic vapors.

5. Steam Bath

“The warm, moist air is thought to work by loosening the mucus in the nasal passages, throat, and lungs. This may relieve symptoms of inflamed, swollen blood vessels in your nasal passages.”

While I use the humidifier to open up the airways at night, during Lennox’s wake time, we do steam baths. We take Lennox’s favorite toys/books/objects into the bathroom. I turn on the shower to the hottest temperature possible. I place a towel at the bottom of the door to trap the steam inside. Then we play, sing, dance, do anything to keep Lennox entertained for a solid 15-20 minutes to decongest Lennox’s chest.

Help your toddler feel better fast with these common cold remedies for a runny nose and chest congestion. #toddlercoldremedies #toddlerrunnynose #naturaltoddlercoldremedies #toddlercoldsleepremedies #naturalcommoncoldremedies #commoncold

Sometimes I clear the vanity of all products and dangerous items to toddlers and let him play in the sink to really get the full effect of the hot air which rises.

Now that Lennox is two-years-old, I have added Vicks VapoShower Soothing Tablets to the process. I place a tablet in the shower (make sure it’s at the focus point of the water’s stream) and practice breathing exercises with Lennox so that he inhales the aroma therapeutic vapors.

6. Nosefrida the Snot Sucker

The steam bath helps to break all the fun snot up, so the next step is to evacuate it with the Nosefrida the Snot Sucker.

This thing is impressive, but gross. 

First, you will restrain your tot. Second, you will put the Nosefrida at the entrance of one of his nostrils and lastly, you will suck. It is amazing how much snot will come out. Repeat on the other nostril.

I do this after the steam shower because most toddlers will not be happy about their nose being “sucked”, so not only will you be fighting the tot, but the stubborn snot as well. Therefore, it’s best to use the NoseFrida after loosening the phlegm for easier evacuation 

7. Saline Spray

A spray will also help to thin, loosen, moisturize and dry mucous. 

8. Honey and Lime

*Do not give honey to a child younger than one-years-old. Experts say that giving honey to infants is not safe because it can lead to Infant Botulism. You can read more about this here.

Honey is sticky, and this makes it a good mucus thinner. Honey also soothes the throat and chest. To add vitamin C to the mix, I add lime and mix it with the honey (it is quite tasty if I might add). Lennox goes wild for this, and it really is a quick, but unfortunately temporary remedy.

I try to buy local honey. Even though it still needs further research, there is a theory that local honey can help prevent allergies. Also, I enjoy buying locally as much as I can.

common cold remedies

9. Hydration

Staying hydrated is critical for a quick recovery. Some of the ways I keep Lennox hydrated during a cold is by Pedialyte, and decaffeinated teas or simply hot water with honey and lime.

The nutrients in pineapple juice are also great at soothing coughs.

Last week we replaced his morning and evening cup of milk with hot tea/water and kept him hydrated on Pedialyte and water throughout the day.

10. Steer clear of dairy products and sugars.

Mucus looooves dairy and sweets. Eating dairy and sweets will cause the phlegm to thicken, which will worsen the cough and congestion. Avoid giving milk and juices during this time, among other sweets.

Common Cold Remedies

11. Nebulizer

I think Lennox might be inheriting my seasonal asthma, but regardless if not, having a nebulizer machine is a terrific instrument to have on hand. Ask your pediatrician for a prescription for he medicine for the machine. sooner than later. The nebulizer has been our most faithful friend during our most recent colds.

On Amazon, you can purchase a portable, handheld nebulizer machine that is perfect for children to hold themselves.

At first, your toddler might not be too happy to use it, but If you use it and make it a fun game, your toddler will want to imitate it.

We had a turning point this cold. Last week, all of a sudden as a big two-year-old Lennox decided to love the neb. He would have a tantrum if he couldn’t use it. Last year, he would scream bloody murder in objection.

Introduce it, and eventually, your tot will want to use it.

12. Medicine

I try to leave medicine as a last resort. If Lennox has a fever or appears to be in pain, I alternate Tylenol and Motrin. has a comprehensive post on how to safely alternate Tylenol and Motrin here.

Kids Benadryl- Not recommended for children under two. I give this to Lennox occasionally during his colds. I will give it to him before bed to help dry out his symptoms and aid his sleep. I do not use this very often, and I would try the natural remedies first that I mentioned above.

Elderberry Syrup is great for additional immune support and also helps reduce the severity and duration of an infection.

13. Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken noodle soup has an anti-inflammatory effect, great for clearing nasal congestion and the salt in the soup will help alleviate a sore throat.

Lennox also really enjoys Ramen Noodle soups, so sometimes if I don’t have the ingredients on hand to make a homemade soup, i’ll give him the salty broth from the Ramen Noodles soup, or any canned chicken noodle soup.

I hope these common cold remedies help to alleviate your tot. Please drop me a comment below telling me what works best for you and your family when the common cold makes its way into your home. Also, check out some of our related posts below.

Check out some of our other health tips posts!


Friday 4th of October 2019

We live on the humidifier! It’s helped tremendously during the cold season!

Lorena Ruprecht

Tuesday 15th of October 2019

Yes! The humidifier is alway running in our house in the winter time.


Thursday 3rd of October 2019

Great list! The Nose Freida was a game changer for us!

Lorena Ruprecht

Tuesday 15th of October 2019

Absolutely. The nose Frida works wonders, even thought it is kind of gross!


Wednesday 2nd of October 2019

I'm a huge supporter of at home remedies if OTC meds can be avoided. My daughter is now 5 and I still use about 80% of these methods whenever she falls sick - and they work! Thanks for the post!

Lorena Ruprecht

Tuesday 15th of October 2019

Agreed. I only resort to meds last minute. The homes remedies, if done right, work wonders.


Wednesday 2nd of October 2019

These are helpful tips to relieve cold symptoms in toddlers. My little guy has been fighting a cold recently, the humidifier and warm showers really help! I like to use Doterra's Breathe essential oils blend in a diffuser and zarbee's naturals baby soothing chest rub on his chest and feet.

Lorena Ruprecht

Tuesday 15th of October 2019

Awe, I hope your little man is feeling better soon. I have never tried the Doterra's Breathe essential oils but I will definitely check them out! Thanks for sharing your tips for toddler colds!


Wednesday 2nd of October 2019

Such a helpful post. The first year of nursery my son suffered so much from colds, there was no way to get rid of his coughs and then we slowly started doing most of the things you mentioned above and it works wonders. My daughter has a runny nose almost the whole Autumn and Winter and baby-vac has been my best friend!

Lorena Ruprecht

Tuesday 15th of October 2019

Yes, nursery/preschool is touch to keep colds contained. I am figuring out that myself right now. Fingers crossed for cold-free winters this year!