Q. My 5 month old daughter is suffering from a really bad cough right now. We had her checked out today and the doctor isn’t worried. I want so badly to help her, she hasn’t slept well in days. Can you recommend anything natural that is safe for her to take?
A. Treating a baby as young as 5 months can be tricky. They are unable to take the remedies offered to older children (chewables, etc.) and dosing can be difficult. If you are nursing you might try taking immune supporting herbs yourself (echinacea, garlic, thyme, etc.) and they will be passed on through your milk.
Suppressing a cough with herbs is unlikely and not always desirable if the cough is productive and assisting the removal of phlegm from the chest. Many herbs are considered soothing and relaxing. Herbal teas are easy to administer, and she would only need small amounts.
- Marshmallow root for soothing a raw throat.
- Licorice root can help her immune system and soothe her cough.
- Sage, hyssop, and thyme can help clear her lungs and all have antimicrobial properties.
- Lemon balm is antiviral and will help her relax
- Valerian will calm a spasmodic cough while helping her sleep.
How To Administer Herbs
Make a tea blend of any of these and administer one teaspoon diluted in 1 tablespoon of water, 3-5 times a day. Alternately you can use herbal glycerites that are designed for children Or use 6-8 drops of an alcohol based tincture that has been added to very hot water and allowed to cool (this evaporates off the alcohol content).
Other Options to Help Baby
You may also find that a warm steamy bath before bed will both loosen any phlegm and relax your baby. Addingchamomile or lavender tea to the bath water can help. Climbing in the bath tub with her can allow you to submerse her easily and she will be calmed and relaxed by your presence. Use a cool mist humidifier in her bedroom too. This is a humidifier we love: Pure Enrichment Cool Mist humidifier
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Always be sure to keep her well hydrated. The extra fluids will keep her mucous thin and also allow her lungs to expel phlegm easily. Dehydration can happen pretty quickly when babies are little. Try to avoid all dairy products if she is eating solids, as they can potentially increase mucus production. If she is congested try a nasal aspirator. We like the Nosefrida The Snotsucker Nasal Aspirator (seriously!).
Get More Info
You should try to find a naturopath or herbalist in your area that has experience with children. Often local midwives will have recommendations to pass along. I also recommend starting to stock your library with great reference books to help you when you baby is feeling under the weather.
Three books I highly recommend are:
Naturally Healthy Babies and Children by Aviva Jill Romm
Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child by Janet Zand
Herbal Remedies for Children’s Health by Rosemary Gladstar
See Your Doctor
If the cough doesn’t subside, always be sure to let your doctor know so that an underlying infection is not missed. A lingering cough may also be triggered by allergies and that may need further exploration.