Natural Alternatives: Five Home Remedies That Are Safe For Infants

young child in bath

Babies often catch a common cold. This can mean runny noses, congestion, coughing and sneezing.

When a baby has a cold or other minor ailment that doesn’t require medical attention, parents can try one of the following safe, doctor-approved home treatments.


Some home remedies previously thought to be beneficial have been debunked and deemed unsafe for babies. Make sure to avoid these potentially dangerous natural remedies:

  • HONEY FOR A COUGH—Some recommend honey as a home remedy for a cough. Although it can be safe, it shouldn’t be used in children under age 1, as it can lead to a dangerous condition called infant botulism.
  • ALCOHOL FOR TEETHING BABIES—Do not use alcohol to soothe a baby’s sore gums, as any amount can be harmful to infants. Consider using diluted chamomile tea instead.
  • TOOTHPASTE OR ADULT FACE WASHES FOR NEONATAL ACNE—Some infants will have acne, which is totally normal. There is no need to put things like toothpaste or adult face wash on a baby’s face, as these products contain chemicals, and the acne will likely clear up on its own.

Turn the bathroom into a steam room. If baby is congested, try turning the shower to hot, closing the door and letting the room fill with steam. Hold the infant in the bathroom (not in the shower) for 15 minutes to ease the little one’s congestion.

Keep babies hydrated. Sick babies need lots of fluids. If your infant is 6 months or older and has a stuffy nose or minor cough, push more fluids (like water and Pedialyte) than normal. If your baby is under 6 months old, provide extra breast milk or infant formula.

Suction out the mucus. Babies who are congested might have trouble feeding. Before breastfeeding or giving the baby a bottle, use a suction device to remove mucus from the nose. These over-the-counter suction devices are called bulb syringes or nasal aspirators. Use saline nose drops before suctioning to help loosen the mucus.

Hydrate dry skin with an oatmeal bath. Babies with dry, itchy skin from the cold weather could benefit from an oatmeal bath. To make an oatmeal bath for an infant, grind oats into a fine powder and add it to warm water until it forms a soft, smooth paste. Add this substance to a tub or sink full of warm water. Let the baby sit in the bath for 15 to 20 minutes.

Fight constipation naturally. If your little one is constipated, it may not be necessary to turn to medication quite yet. Consider purchasing prunes (if baby is on soft foods already) and adding small pieces of them to the infant’s baby food. Prunes can serve as a healthy, natural laxative for babies.

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