Curing the Sniffles Naturally

Last week was the birthday bash for Little Man, and we had a full house for the festivities.  Of course this meant that he spent most of the time in the arms of a loving friend or relative.  And invariably, this lead to Little Man developing the sniffles.

There was no high fever, but he was warm to the touch, with a runny nose and a mean case of the grumps.  On top of this, he had been teething very slowly since January.

When I saw my son sick and in pain, my first reaction was to find something to “fix” it.  Surely there was a syrup or goo that could whisk away his discomfort.  But it’s not that easy, really.

A lot of conventional medicines have very potent ingredients, bright colours and artificial flavouring.  Never mind that many of them have added sweeteners despite the fact that children under the age of one are not supposed to have sugar.  There had to be a better way.

I didn’t want to see Little Man unhappy, but I wanted to use natural ways to fight his sickness.  In times of sniffles and teething pain, I have found the following tricks have worked well to help ease Little Man’s discomfort without having to reach for the medicine cabinet.


  • This is so good for congestion.  We have a vaporizer in Little Man’s room that we add Tea Tree oil or Lavender to.  I have also read that making the bathroom into a steam room can help loosen things up (although using that much water to create a steam room doesn’t seem very environmentally responsible).

Rubber bulb syringe

  • This has helped us remove excess mucus from Little Man’s nose when it is blocked or excessively running.  Our midwife told us to put a bit of breast milk in each nostril before suctioning.  It has worked well, especially when Little Man was a little blob.  Now that he is more active, he lets us know with wild kicks that he does not like it.  I do not want it to accidentally poke him in the nostril so I usually use this as a last resort after wiping his nose with a reusable cloth.


  • When Little Man is really stuffy, we put a few rolled up receiving blankets under the top end of his mattress to raise his head as he sleeps.  This helps him breathe easier while we wait for the congestion to clear.  We feel that it is safer to elevate the mattress than to prop up the crib bed, which could make it unstable.

Fresh Air

  • Fresh air.  Whether sick or not, this is always a good idea.  Enough said.


  • Distraction is a great way that we have dealt with Little Man’s teething pain.  Playing with toys together, extra hugs, walks outside and visits to grandma and grampa’s house have really helped on those tough days.  If all else fails, bath time will always put a smile on his face and help him forget his troubles.

Frozen Teething Things

  • Freezing a little breast milk, chamomile tea or apple sauce and then wrapping it in a reusable cloth means that Little Man has something to chew on when his gums are really sore.  There are also mesh things with a plastic handle that you can put food in for the same purpose but I don’t like the idea of Little Man chewing on plastic.  His organic reusable bamboo wipes make me feel better about what he has in his mouth.

If all else fails, bath time will fix everything.

For the most part, these natural remedies have matched the effectiveness of conventional medicines.  We usually just play around with a combination of ideas to find what will work for Little Man at that time.  Of course there are those moments of weakness where the Dreamboat and I have given in to pain medicine when Little Man is absolutely miserable (blame our sleepiness for the lapse in judgement).  We cannot boast that we have only relied on natural ways to ease Little Man’s sickness, but we have tried to as much as possible.  What natural remedies have you tried with yourself or your children?  I would love to hear what time-tested tricks you rely on to chase away the sniffles.

NOTE: You should definitely check with your doctor or midwife first before you try anything recommended to you online or by well-meaning friends and family.  Your little one is worth the extra precautions.

Further Reading (2011) Natural Treatments for Coughs, Runny Nose and Congestion | Ask Dr. Sears®. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 7 Apr 2012]. (2011) 11 safe home remedies to soothe your child’s cold and flu symptoms | BabyCenter. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 7 Apr 2012]. (n.d.) Natural Baby | All you need to raise your baby, naturally-Natural Teething Remedy for Baby. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 7 Apr 2012].


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