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Toddler colds and coughs bring extra stress and worry for everyone in the family – especially parents. Unfortunately, they are very common in young children and symptoms can last up to ten days.
Common colds are mostly caused by a type of virus called “Rhinovirus” and do not have a known cure.
However, each cold episode helps strengthen your toddler’s immune system against future attacks.
Unless a cold and cough is extreme or comes with other serious symptoms, simply giving your toddler comfort and time to rest will help him/her feel better.
Types of toddler cough
Toddlers cough can be a symptom of a common cold or an underlying disease.
Most coughs go away with simple home remedies but if your child’s cough is worsening after some days, call your pediatrician. Here are five types of coughs:
- Dry cough or hacking cough: Is caused by that irritates lung passages. However, most dry coughs that happen at night may be a sign of asthma. Check with your doctor.
- Green mucus cough: A green mucus sputum may indicate an infection. Check with your doctor to rule out pneumonia, if your toddler’s cold and cough is getting worse.
- Wheezing cough: If your child’s cough sounds wheezy or raspy, it could be caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). It often goes away on its own. However, if your child is having problems breathing, visit a hospital.
- Croup cough: This type of cough usually affects children aged 6 months to 3 years. It is caused by an inflammation of the trachea.
- Whooping cough or Pertussis: It is highly contagious. If your toddler is coughing vigorously and his cough sounds like a whoop, it could be a sign of whooping cough.
15 African or Nigerian remedies for toddler cold and cough
These home remedies are for toddlers from three (3) years of age. They include:
1. Ginger tea
Ginger contains a compound called gingerol that gives it it’s spicy taste and anti-inflammatory properties.
A warm ginger drink will help clear thick mucus from the nostrils and relieve chest congestion.
For toddler cough and congestion, brew up a mild ginger tea by adding a few slices of fresh ginger to a pot of hot water. Boil for one minute and allow your toddler to inhale steam before drinking.
You can also add honey or lemon juice to improve the taste and further soothe a cough.
Garlic contains allicin, a compound that is responsible for its many health benefits.
In ancient African medicine, garlic has been in use to treat cold symptoms and chest congestion.
To relieve toddler cold and cough, try either of these three methods:
- Bathing water: Add a few bulbs of garlic to hot bathing water, allow to cool, and use to bathe toddler. The garlic will warm up the body and relieve chest congestion.
- Garlic tea: Brew grated garlic in a cup of boiling water. Filter and add honey to improve the taste and soothe a sore throat.
- Oil massage: Add a few bulbs of fresh garlic to coconut oil or palm kernel oil (udeaki). Boil the mixture for one minute and set aside to cool. Pour cooled oil into an airtight container and discard after one week.
Garlic also prevents cold symptoms in adults, babies, and toddlers.
3. Onion juice
Onions are incredible natural expectorants. They provide relief from nasal congestion and help expel thick mucus.
To treat congestion, crush onions and extract the juice. Add honey for sweetness and give your toddler to drink. It is very effective.
4. Honey combinations
Honey is incredibly sweet and is safe for kids once they are above 12 months old. It also has antibacterial properties that help soothe and treat sore throat.
It can be taken alone or combined with alligator pepper, ginger, and lemon juice for excellent results.
- Honey and alligator pepper: Add a pinch of powdered pepper to a tablespoonful of honey. Mix and serve your toddler. It will help thin out mucus and reduce coughing.
- Honey and dry ginger: Add a pinch of dry ginger powder to a tablespoon of honey. Mix and serve. It will help reduce cough and thin out mucus.
- Honey and lemon juice: This is an incredibly tasty remedy that your toddler won’t say no to. Simply squeeze half lemon into a glass of water and add one tablespoon of honey to it. Mix and give him/her to drink. It will soothe a sore throat and boost immunity.
You can serve your toddler any of these mixtures two or three times a day until the cold completely disappears.
5. Scent leaf (sweet basil) and honey
Scent leaf also called tea bush, basil, or African basil is incredibly healthy and easily available. It relieves chest congestion, cough, and clears out mucus from the nostrils.
To prepare, add a few basil leaves to a pot with boiling water. Boil for 1 minute and allow to cool completely. Strain it, add a teaspoon of honey, and give it to your toddler.
You can repeat this two to three times a day until cold symptoms disappear.
6. Vitamin-C rich fruits
Fruits like orange, lemon, tangerines, African star apple, and watermelon are rich in vitamin C.
Vitamin C helps fight off germs and builds a strong immunity. Simply extract the juice of either of these fruits and give your toddler regular sips.
Related: 15 powerful home remedies for baby’s cold and cough.
7. Eucalyptus oil and vapor rub
Eucalyptus oil is one of the main ingredients in many vapor rubs. They open up stuffy nostrils and ease breathing.
However, never use vapor rub or eucalyptus oil on babies under two, and never put it on a child’s face or under their nose.
To relieve congestion with eucalyptus oil, place a few drops of eucalyptus oil in warm water, and ask your kid to inhale the steam.
Also, you can drop eucalyptus oil in the bedding when your child goes to sleep. It will suppress the cough and help your baby sleep peacefully.
For vapor rubs, apply it sparingly to the toddler’s feet, back, and palms. This will help thin out mucus and relieve congestion.
You can purchase eucalyptus oil in drug stores or buy online.
8. Chicken pepper soup
Chicken pepper soup is ideal for toddlers three years and above. It has anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve sore throat, cough, and congestion.
Prepare it with small bits of ginger, garlic, onions, chili pepper, and basil leaves.
The spices and herbs will warm up your toddler, improve breathing, and loosen up thick mucus. Make sure the soup is warm before serving.
9. Warm salt-water gargle
This remedy is recommended for toddlers that can spit out salt water after gargling. Do not give to babies that may not be able to spit out after gargling.
It is an effective method for treating a sore throat and cough. Saltwater reduces phlegm and mucus in the back of the throat which can lessen the need to cough.
To prepare, stir half a teaspoon of salt into a cup of warm water until it dissolves. Allow the solution to cool slightly before using it to gargle. Let the mixture sit at the back of the throat for a few moments before spitting it out.
Gargle with salt water several times each day until the cough improves.
10. Nasal saline drops
Nasal drops are very effective and safe. They relieve toddler cold and cough by softening mucus.
Most pediatricians prescribe over the counter nasal drops but in case of an emergency, you can also make yours at home.
To prepare saline at home, sterilize all your equipment by boiling, then mix ½ tablespoons of salt and 8 tablespoons of boiled, cooled water in a bowl.
Keep your toddler’s head slightly tilted. And use a 2ml bulb syringe to drop the mixture into each nostril. This will loosen mucus and make it ooze out.
Dispose of homemade nasal drops after 24 hours as it is prone to bacteria growth.
You can find a variety of quality nasal saline drops to buy online.
11. Cool-mist humidifier
Humidifiers are ideal for dry weather and harmattan. They add moisture to the air and keep your child’s airways from drying out.
It will also help loosen chest and nasal congestion, enabling the baby to sleep longer.
However, following manufacturers’ instructions, remember to clean and change the water daily, as bacteria and mold grow quite quickly.
You can find quality varieties of cool-mist humidifiers to buy online.
12. Steam bath
The steam bath remedy is an effective home remedy for both babies and toddlers.
Simply turn your bathroom into a steam room. To achieve this, run a hot shower, close the door, and sit inside with your child for 15 minutes before bed and again for 15 minutes in the morning.
The steam helps loosen chest and nasal congestion, making it easier for kids to cough or blow out mucus.
Make sure the doors are shut tightly. Close any holes or cracks with a towel.
13. Give lots of fluid
Ensure to keep your toddler hydrated with lots of warm water, breast milk, formula, fruit juice, or semi-solid foods like cereal pap (Akamu).
Most toddlers lose appetite for solid food when suffering from a cold and cough.
Fluids will help provide your baby with essential nutrients and help boost his or her immunity.
Related: 10 amazing health benefits of akamu (ogi) for you and your baby.
14. Elevate toddler’s head
Elevating your toddler’s head will help him to breathe more easily and drain out mucus.
You can try elevating one end of the mattress by placing a rolled-up towel or wedge at the end where the baby’s head rests.
15. Adequate rest
Reduce playtime and make your toddler rest and sleep for longer time periods.
If possible, suspend your toddler from attending school to avoid spreading symptoms to other children and ensure a fast full recovery.
Tips to prevent toddler cold and cough
To prevent toddler cold and cough, these effective tips will help you:
- Give your children foods rich in vitamins C. They help build immunity against cold and cough.
- Add garlic and ginger to your cooking. They prevent cold and cough in toddlers and adults.
- Ask anyone who’s sick to stay away from your home.
- Keep your children away from crowded places where there are lots of germs.
- Wash your hands and your toddler’s hands often during the day.
- Clean your kid’s toys and bedding often with soap and water.
- Tell older children or siblings to cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow, instead of into the air.
- Don’t let anyone smoke near your child. Cigarette smoke can make your baby more likely to get sick.
- Keep your home clean from dust and other allergens.
When to see a doctor
If you’ve been treating your child’s cough at home for a few days and it’s getting worse, call your pediatrician’s office.
Make an appointment if you think your toddler’s cough is due to either asthma or allergies.
Other signs that your child should see a doctor include:
- Cough that lasts more than 10 days.
- Fever over 100.4˚F (38˚C) for more than 3 days.
- Labored breathing.
- Chest pain.
- Muscles pulling in around the neck or rib cage when breathing.
- Tugging on the ears, which may be a sign of ear infection.
- Extreme weakness and showing signs of dehydration.
- Rapid breathing or can’t catch their breath.
- Develops a blue tinge on the lips, nails, or skin, which is a sign of a lack of oxygen.
The bottom line
Toddler cold and cough is a common symptom in toddlers and can last for weeks.
Although symptoms may look and sound serious, it can easily be treated at home.
Also, some home remedies may not suit your child. If the cold symptoms show no signs of going away, visit a pediatrician without further delay.
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