Sick Kid Survival Kit

Home Remedies for the Sick Kid: Our Survival Kit

After a week of my sick kid having what I thought was the common cold, I finally took her to the doctor to be sure it wasn’t strep throat or something more serious. She’d had a sore throat and a fever along with lots of other cold symptoms. She’d been happy enough to chill out on the couch with me, so at first, I thought it was nothing to worry about. We tried some home remedies that might’ve helped, but she wasn’t improving enough.

Of course, every parent worries when he or she has a sick kid, and this bug just wasn’t leaving. We’d tried all the home remedies I knew by this point. She won’t eat chicken soup, much less most of the tricks I had up my parental sleeve to boost her immune system. So, with growing concern, I took my sick child in for some official medical advice before we’d consider leaving the couch, much less returning to school.

As it turns out, she had RSV, a sinus infection, and parainfluenza. Studies show that, unlike many viruses that run their course in 24 hours, RSV can be contagious for as many as four weeks (1). Hello, plastic bubble. And she didn’t just have RSV, so I thought we’d be in for a long-haul recovery.

Home Remedies that Helped My Sick Kid Get Healthy, Fast

I’ll preface this by saying it isn’t medical advice. I don’t work in health care, aside from being That Mom Who Researches Everything. (Never blindly trust someone who’s not a doctor who claims to treat a medical condition.) That said, it’d be pretty hard to find fault with these ideas, but do run them past your doctor to see if they’re a match for your sick kid.

That aside, here are the home remedies that (ready for it?) got my child back on her feet within four days of starting them. Four days; not four weeks! Oh, and for what it’s worth, my doctor approved them for us. I’m not a fan of many of the side effects of standard meds (my child is very sensitive to them, as am I), so we prefer natural remedies whenever possible.

Home Remedy #1 Almost-Too-Good-To-Be-True Anti-Inflammatory Foods (but they work, fortunately)

Some of the best health news I’ve ever heard is that dark chocolate (above 70% cocoa) is more effective for coughs than codeine. Score! Did I need any help encouraging my sick child to have some of her favorite 85% dark chocolate? Not one bit. We keep plenty on hand for “emergencies” of all kinds. (afflinks) And of course, I took some preventatively! To be honest, I doubt it works preventatively, but it helped my sanity.

Further, as easy as it is to get a sick kid to eat chocolate, it’s just as simple to convince her to have some pure, raw honey. Offering her an immune-boosting garlic and honey combination was an easy sale. She ate it straight, just garlic chopped small and dipped in honey, on a spoon. She also ate it on toast. Along with that, she downed plenty of anti-inflammatory blueberries and fresh ginger tea.

There are lots of savory anti-inflammatory foods, too, but these sweet ones sure didn’t hurt her spirits. How nice that some of what she needed most, were things she wanted the most.

Home Remedy #2: Our Favorite Natural Medicines (with a very helpful hint)

Some of these are home remedies, and some are natural remedies that are, according to my doctor, “herbals.” I didn’t realize how easy we had it when our daughter was a baby and we could just pull out the brilliant (albeit gross) NoseFrida and give her some dissolvable cold tablets. Now that she’s older, she has stronger opinions about what she’ll ingest.

For general immune-boosting power

She loved taking these easy-to-administer and dissolvable pellets at the onset of her symptoms, and she never turns down sweet elderberry syrup. You can make a homemade version of elderberry syrup for much less money if you have the right ingredients. With our doctor’s guidance, we temporarily increased her vitamin D3 (we like this version because it’s an imperceptible liquid we can add to her drink).

For coughs

She loves her daytime and nighttime cough medicines. I love the nighttime version because it has just enough strength, along with a bit of melatonin, to help my sick kid sleep without coughing at night. The daytime version of Zarbee’s is worth keeping around, too; as is their version with individual portions (great for when we’re ready to leave the house but concerned about coughing).

For sinus problems

Finally, because of the sinus infection, she needed something effective, but we weren’t keen on antibiotics as a first defense. (Of course, we’d take them if we had to.) Although she didn’t love the flavor of this sinus medicineoh my–her sinus symptoms disappeared almost immediately after she started it. Knowing that our sense of smell strongly affects how we taste food, she agreed to let me hold a medjool date (her favorite sweet treat) under her nose while she took the medicine. We practiced “shots” of water beforehand, and that also helped when it came time for medicine. The “tricking her senses with sweet smell” and “water shot practice” approach worked wonders, fortunately. That’s my helpful hint to you.

Our doctor also showed us a video of this “gentler” version of a sinus rinse for kids. We’re not there yet, but close.

For parents trying to stay healthy (or who didn’t manage to get that lucky)

I took vitamin D3, elderberry syrup, and these anti-viral herbs, and I managed to stay completely healthy. The herbs aren’t cheap, but there are a ton of them in the bottle. They last a really long time, and in my opinion, staying healthy is worth every penny. (I did the math now, just for fun. Let’s say I took 10 of them throughout the duration of her illness. Would I pay a few bucks to avoid going down hard and feeling miserable? Absolutely.) That said, all of the kids’ items I’ve listed above are also available in adult versions on the “Food and Health” section of our site, if you need them.

Home Remedy #3: Gentle Movement

Our doctor pointed out the importance of balancing enough stillness with enough movement as a home remedy to clear my daughter’s lungs. From what I’ve heard, if we’re too sedentary, the “gunk” can get stuck in our lungs; risks include increased inflammation and potential for pneumonia. No thank you! Since my girl didn’t want to leave the couch, I grabbed my exercise ball and helped her do some gentle, lung clearing, and immune boosting stretches over it. She thought it was wildly fun (well, as “wild” as someone who doesn’t want to move can get), and she said the stretches made her chest feel better. It seemed to ease her coughing, so I’ll take her word for it.

Home Remedy #4: Humid Air

The humid air from inside the bathtub is a good way to keep a sick kid still for awhile; there’s only so far she can go in there. Semi-immersion in warm water helped release the gunk in her lungs. Although she coughed more, the coughs became more productive.

At night, we used a really effective and adjustable cool mist humidifier. I love how quiet it is, and that it has a 12- and 24-hour timer option if I forget to turn it off in the morning when my mind is on caring for the sick kid.

Home Remedy #5: A One-Way Ticket to Stay Home

No matter how bored we got, we stayed home. We certainly didn’t want to inflict the Plague of Blaaaah (as I dubbed it) on anyone else. I picked up enough library books to run the entire length of our house, and we read every single one. There’s just no substitute for staying still and letting a sick child’s body heal.

Now, How To Entertain a Sick Kid for (Potentially) Weeks on End?

The home remedy part is easy compared to figuring out what to do at home for weeks. And fortunately, we didn’t have to figure it out. She got better. Quickly.

As a mama, the home remedies that get us up and out as fast as possible, are exactly the ones I like best. As they say, prevention is the best medicine. It feels so good to be well.

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About the Writer

Sarah R. Moore is a published writer, positive parenting educator, wellness advocate, and world traveler. Her work spans the globe, reaching readers on six continents and appearing in publications such as The Natural Parent Magazine, Scary Mommy, and Macaroni Kid.

She has been certified by the Raffi Foundation for Child Honouring.  She wholeheartedly recommends the course for parents, educators, and all others who influence the lives of children. 

She also holds BA / MFS degrees in Journalism, French, and Media/Arts/Cultural Production. Read more about Sarah here.