Childcare Health

Home remedies to help comfort a sick infant

sick infant
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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

The next time your child is ill, take a peak inside your pantry and try these home remedies.

A parents’ day comes to an unwanted halt when we have a sick infant. Aside from the stress of seeing your infant in discomfort, the toll it takes on a parent’s own energy and health is immense. The goal is to make sure the child is back to being healthy as soon as possible.

Most of us head straight to our local pharmacy when our child is ill. The majority of paediatrics warn us that over-the-counter medications aren’t effective for treating infants and can be dangerous for children younger than six. Non-drug treatments are also recommended by doctors themselves for minor cases of illnesses.

Below are some of my favourite home remedies that are good substitutes for medicines:


“The narrow passage between the ears, nose, and throat plug up easily, and heat reduces the painful inflammation and swelling,” says Anju Sawni, MD, assistant professor of paediatrics at Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit. A great way of treating earaches is by putting a potato in the microwave and cooking it on high until it’s soft. Once it’s soft, stick it in a thick sock, and hold it to your child’s ear. Be sure to check the heat level by putting it on your ear first.


Vomiting is a tricky one. If your child has to vomit repeatedly and cannot hold down fluids, its best to call a doctor. In the case of a mild vomiting, try a spoonful of heavy syrup from peaches or other canned fruit every 20 minutes. The heavy syrup soothes the tummy. Skip acidic fruits like pineapple, which irritate the gut.


If your baby is old enough to be eating solids, then try a bland diet approach. This includes carrots, rice cereal, bananas, potatoes and applesauce. The central concern with diarrhoea is the possibility of dehydration from loss of body fluids. Thus, the first step is to make sure your child is hydrated (with milk or water). If you are breast feeding, don’t stop. Breast feeding prevents diarrhoea and speeds recovery (Journal of Paediatrics, May 1996; Paediatrics, April 2007). If your baby still seems thirsty after nursing sessions, you can supplement with an oral rehydration solution (for example, Pedialyte).

A hidden gem (after trial and error) is white grape juice. While most juices can worsen diarrhoea, white grape juice is a home remedy found to be effective in reducing diarrhoea. Dr. Bill Sears, Paediatrician and Professor at UC Irvine, states that white grape juice is similar to store-bought oral electrolyte solutions, replacing lost fluids, vitamins and minerals without worsening diarrhoea.

Cold and flu

Home remedies will not shorten your child’s flu (which usually takes 10 days to run its course). But it will definitely help them feel better. A great way to help clear your child’s breathing passage is by steaming. This thankfully works at any age, be it through a humidifier, cool-mist vaporizer or steamy bathroom. You can also use homemade or store bought saline drops for infants, which will help their breathing. If your infant is over six months, try roasting carom seeds with boiled water, and adding a bit of honey and ginger.

(Home remedies like these will only help in easing the discomfort not in curing the ailment completely. And remember to check for allergies before using any of these ingredients and to consult a doctor if it gets worse.)