The cold and flu season starts in the fall and continues throughout the winter months – typically peaking somewhere between November and March. When your child gets sick with a cough or cold, you just want to make them feel better. Drugstore cough and cold meds aren’t recommended for kids, but there are plenty of safe home remedies worth trying. Here are six kid-friendly home remedies to provide your child with relief when they are sick.

Promote rest

Sleep and plenty of rest is the best thing you can give your child to recover quickly from their illness. Our body’s immune system goes to work when we are in deep sleep. Giving them the opportunity for a good night’s sleep will ensure that their body goes into repair and recovery mode. Consider giving your child a warm bath and a massage – to help relieve congestion and soothe achy muscles before bed.  

Lots of fluids

When children are sick, they tend to get dehydrated, particularly when they suffer from fever, as the volume of water in their body decreases. Keeping them well hydrated is essential to their recovery. Water, broth, electrolyte drinks and other clear liquids can also loosen and thin mucus, helping to clear the nasal passages. If your child suffers from prolonged dehydration, make sure to get medical attention as soon as possible. 


Moisture thins a child’s mucus and shrinks nasal passages, helping them breathe easier. Consider adding a cool mist humidifier to your child’s room to help moisten the air and relieve pain caused by a sore throat. Place the humidifier close to the bed, but not so close that your child can reach it. Make sure to clean and dry it each day to avoid contamination with bacteria or mold. 

Saline spray

Medicated nasal sprays aren’t recommended for young children. Fortunately, natural remedies like saline drops and mists can help loosen the mucus in your child’s sinuses, making it easier for them to blow their nose. For younger children, using a bulb syringe to suction your child’s nose can also be very helpful. 

A spoonful of honey

Honey is known to have antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. Several studies have shown that swallowing half to one teaspoon of honey about half an hour before bed can help settle a child’s cough. Remember that kids under the age of one should never have honey due to the risk of infant botulism.

Herbal teas 

A cup of warm tea can be soothing when your child is sick. Peppermint tea works as an expectorant to help break up mucus, while chamomile tea has anti-inflammatory and sedative properties that can help stimulate the immune system. Ginger tea is also a great option to soothe an upset tummy. Make sure to read all the ingredients on the label, as some teas may combine more than one type of herb. If you’re unsure about how much tea to give your child, try asking your healthcare provider.

Most childhood illnesses run their course within 48-72 hours. For illnesses lasting longer than that or for high, persistent fevers, it’s best to book an appointment with a healthcare provider.  

Book your virtual healthcare appointment today

If you would like to speak with a medical professional about your child’s healthcare needs, visit Tulip Health is a virtual walk-in clinic that provides non-emergency related healthcare. It’s easy to use and it’s covered by OHIP. To book an appointment, visit