Coughs were one of the things that made me feel most helpless as a new parent. When my 7-year-old was a baby, we made several visits to the ER, due to coughs.
These visits ended up being one of the catalysts for our family's shift to green living. As the saying goes, “A worried mother does better research than the FBI,” and I believe it.
In an effort to reduce my son's coughs, I researched and became tuned into the ways our products and home environment could be impacting his health and leading to an irritated respiratory system. Here are a few of the changes I made:
Environmental Changes To Minimize Coughs
Do you notice that coughing seems to get worse at night? Me too. That's why I focused much of my efforts for a healthy space in the bedroom.
Since children can spend over 11 hours a day sleeping, the bedroom is a great place to start when making environmental changes in your home.
Synthetic fragrances may contain phthalates which mimic estrogen and trick our bodies into thinking the hormone is our own. Studies have linked phthalate exposure to the feminizing of humans, breast cancer, and more.
Scents can induce headaches, watery eyes, and induce asthma. Some people are sensitive to natural scents as well which is why I try to keep bedrooms scent-free.
Try to keep clutter to a minimum in your home, especially your child's bedroom. Not only does clutter attract dust which impacts breathing, depending on what the item is made of, it can present other health dilemma's (e.g., PVC plastic). Besides, eliminating bedroom clutter helps maintain a calm and restful sleep space.
Prioritize your child’s mattress and bedding. Children spend a large percentage of their lives sleeping so what they sleep on matters.
Look for an organic mattress or one that is GREENGUARD certified. If an organic mattress is not in your budget right now, cover the conventional mattress in a non-PVC cover and let it off-gas (getting rid of the ‘scent' from manufacturing) preferably outside of your home but definitely not in your child's room.
Opening a few windows every day is an easy way to circulate fresh air and release indoor air pollutants. Always open windows while cleaning the room.
Dust mites can be a problem in the bedroom as they thrive on dead skin cells and their excrement can trigger allergic reactions.
Use a microfibre cloth on all surfaces including fans. This cloth picks up dust and dirt without the need for dusting product.
Natural Cough Remedies For Children
While I still feel upset when my children are experiencing the aches and pains of a cough but I no longer feel helpless like I did as a new parent. For a regular cough, there are four simple yet effective things I know I can do to make my child's coughs more manageable so they can get the rest they need to feel better. These are natural cough remedies I use over and over again:
If your little one seems like they are struggling to breathe, the cough is persistent over several days or your mama radar is going off then be sure to go to the doctor or the hospital.
A cool-mist humidifier is a great tool to have for winter coughs since it combats the effects of dry winter indoor air.
Carefully monitor the humidity levels in the room to as too much moisture isn't healthy, you want to aim for about 30-50% moisture.
Aim to clean the humidifier regularly to avoid mold and bacteria from being released into the air.
Helixia Cough Syrup
Helixia is a natural cough syrup for kids that uses ivy leaf extract as its core ingredient. This syrup is dextromethorphan-free so can be used with children ages 1-11. It's also gluten-free, dye-free, sucrose-free and non-drowsy.
While honey is often recommended as a natural option to soothe children's coughs (over 1-year old) not every child can accept it willingly. My oldest son gags when presented with a spoonful of honey; it's the texture, not the taste.
Helixia has the taste of honey without the thickness. It works to relieve the cough and loosen mucus and phlegm.
During the winter coughs and cold in our house, I've reached for this natural cough remedy before bedtime to help my children get relief so they can sleep well and get better. Before taking any complementary medicines, you should speak with your doctor.
Steam is moisturizing and soothing to irritated noses, sinuses, and throats. It can help loosen congestion. Try running a hot shower and sitting in the bathroom with your child before bed for about 10-15 minutes. Alternatively, a warm bath may also help and be less uncomfortable and more fun for your child than sitting in a steamy bathroom.
A Congestion Rub
I love using this cold and flu essential oil recipe for a congestion rub before bedtime.
I combine 40 drops of eucalyptus essential oil, 30 drops of tea tree essential oil and 20 drops rosemary essential oil in a small bottle. Then I mix about 10 drops of the blend with a teaspoon of my favourite carrier oil (we like avocado).
I rub this over my children's upper back and chest and the back of their throat before they put on their pajamas.
P.S. Read seven immune boosting tips to stay healthy during cold and flu season.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Helixia but as always opinions are my own. These natural cough tips are suggestions only and do not replace medical advice. Consult with your doctor before beginning any treatments.
Living Well In Motherhood
Green Moms Collective is passionate about living well in motherhood. With a little help from mothers who get it and wellness experts. Get us weekly.