A runny nose is a very common problem in children. This happens when the nasal cavity is filled with a significant amount of mucus fluid. The color of the mucus may vary from clear to white or yellow to green.
Often, it is a symptom of the common cold. In children, however, a runny nose can also be a result of crying or exposure to cold temperatures and possible irritants.
A runny nose can further cause irritability, fever, cough, sore throat, sneezing, upset stomach, sleep disturbance and appetite disturbance. Nasal congestion may or may not accompany a runny nose.
When treating a runny nose in children, parents need to have patience. It usually clears without treatment. Medication cannot cure this problem, and you cannot make it go away in a day.
However, you can try some home remedies to reduce the discomfort and promote faster recovery.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for your child’s runny nose.
1. Saline Rinse
For an adult or child, a saline rinse is one of the best home remedies for a runny nose. A saline rinse helps loosen up mucus, making it easier and more comfortable to expel.
It even clears the nasal passages of irritants and helps your child breathe through the nose.
- Make the saline solution by mixing ¼ teaspoon of table salt in a cup of bolied water which has been cooled to room temperature.
- Put a few drops of the solution into one of the nostrils, while tipping your child’s head backwards.
- Immediately suck out the excess mucus using a bulb syringe, while closing the other nostril with one of your fingers.
- Repeat the procedure with the other nostril.
- Use this remedy up to 3 times a day, but not more than that.
If you find it difficult, do not hesitate to get help from others.
Inhaling steam helps ease the discomfort of a runny nose. It clears out the excess mucus that causes the dripping and sneezing. It will also help your child sleep better, which is important for faster recovery.
- For very small children, turn the bathroom into a steam room by closing the door and turning the shower on full hot. Take your child into the bathroom and sit there with your child for 10 to 15 minutes. Do this 2 or 3 times a day.
- For older children, you can opt to use a facial steamer. Sit with your child on your lap and lean over a bowl of hot water with a towel over your head to trap the steam. Ask your child to breathe in the steam for 5 to 10 minutes, then ask him or her to blow their nose. Do this a few times a day.
3. Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus can also help reduce a runny nose and associated symptoms in children. It works as a decongestant, which makes it easier for your child to get rid of mucus.
- Put 4 or 5 drops of eucalyptus oil in warm bath water for your child. Let your child enjoy the bath for 10 minutes. Repeat twice daily.
- Alternatively, mix 10 drops of eucalyptus essential oil in ½ cup of warm extra-virgin olive oil. Give your child a gentle chest massage with this aromatic oil, especially before his or her bedtime.
Another good herbal remedy for a child’s runny nose is basil. It has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties that help fight the cause of the runny nose.
It even builds your child’s immunity.
- For young children, give a few basil leaves with a little jaggery to eat two times per day.
- For older children, give some fresh basil leaves to chew before breakfast every morning and before going to bed at night.
- Alternatively, extract 1 tablespoon of juice from fresh basil leaves. Mix the basil juice with equal amounts of ginger juice, lemon juice and honey. Give your child this mixture 2 or 3 times a day.
Honey is another effective remedy for a runny nose in a child who is 2 years of age or older. For small children, honey should not be used as it may cause a bacteria that causes botulism.
The soothing, antibacterial and antiviral properties of honey help reduce the various symptoms of a runny nose. It even helps treat coughing and a sore throat.
- Mix 1 to 2 teaspoons of raw honey in a glass of warm water. Give this to your child to drink twice a day.
- Alternatively, mix 1 tablespoon of honey and ½ teaspoon of fresh lemon juice in a glass of warm water. Give it to your child to drink while it is still warm. Repeat twice daily.
For babies who are at least 1 year old, the herb chamomile can relieve the symptoms and discomfort of a runny nose. This herb is an immune booster.
It also reduces sneezing due to its excellent antihistamine properties.
- Put 1 teaspoon of dried chamomile flowers in 2 cups of boiling water.
- Cover and steep for 5 minutes.
- Add some honey for taste.
- Give this mild tea to your sick child twice daily.
7. Warm Chicken Soup
For children older than 1 year, chicken soup will help reduce the discomfort of a runny nose. Chicken soup improves the immune system functioning and even prevents infections of the upper respiratory tract.
Plus, chicken soup is light and nutritious for a sick child.
Make homemade chicken soup using organic chicken and vegetables, such as carrots, beetroot and spinach. You can give your sick child this soup 2 or 3 times a day.
8. Sponge Bath
If your child has a low temperature with a runny nose, give him or her a cool water bath or sponge bath to help regulate body temperature.
A sponge bath will also help relax your child and make him or her sleep better, which is essential for faster recovery.
- For small babies younger than 1 year, give a sponge bath 2 or 3 times a day. Soak a washcloth in room temperature water, wring out the excess water and then sponge the armpits, feet, hands and groin.
- For older children, a cool bath can be given once or twice a day.
Note: Avoid using very cold water as it may cause the internal body temperature to rise.
9. Increased Fluid Intake
Give your baby plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. It is very important to keep your baby properly hydrated to promote drainage of nasal secretions and soothing of the nasal cavities. This makes it easier to cough and blow the nose.
- If your baby still breastfeeds, breastfeeding is a good option. You can also give him or her baby formula or plain milk.
- For older children, give plain child water, diluted fruit juices or gelatin-flavored water.
10. Cool-Mist Humidifier
You must use a cool-mist humidifier in your child’s bedroom to add moisture to the air. This will help loosen up the mucus to allow easy drainage. It will even reduce labored breathing, so that he or she can sleep properly.
Run a cool-mist humidifier in your child’s room overnight to help your sick baby finally get the much needed rest and recover quickly.
Never leave water sitting in the humidifier when it is not running. Also, make sure to clean and disinfect the reservoir tank of the humidifier on a regular basis to prevent bacteria from taking hold.
- Make your child blow his or her nose at regular intervals to get rid of the excess mucus.
- Always clean your child’s nose using a soft tissue to avoid skin irritation.
- Rub some petroleum jelly or olive oil under your baby’s nose to help prevent chapping and reddening of the skin.
- Do not expose your child to any potential allergy triggers and irritants, such as pet dander, dust and dust mites, chemical fumes and cigarette smoke.
- Keep your child’s head elevated a bit while he or she sleeps. However, do not use pillows. You can use a rolled t-shirt, for instance.
- Do not give fatty or hard-to-digest foods to your child.
- Keep your child’s room comfortably warm and dress him or her lightly.
- Also, try cuddling your child in a rocking chair to make him or her feel better.