Treating colds and coughs at night

Red Chief and Tiger Lily have been down with colds and coughs for the last couple of weeks. Other than never wanting to see another used tissue on the floor again, I am holding up pretty well (except my scratchy throat—please don't let me come down with it too!).

In any case, treatment of colds has changed since I was a child. Traditional cold and cough medicines are out. I'm not convinced they help much, anyway.

As we left the pediatrician's office after a quick check-up earlier this week to make sure all was well in the lungs (it was), Red Chief asked me if he had an uncommon type of cold. I'm sure he will learn all too soon how common the cold really is.

Here is what I have been doing to help my children, as suggested by my kids' doctor and by my own experience. Their coughs have been getting so bad the past few nights that I've been having to do nearly all of these things before bed, which extends bedtime for quite a bit. But it's worth it! We all sleep better when we do these things.

  • Put a humidifier in their room. 
  • Go to bed early to get some extra rest. (Naps are not amiss either.)
  • Take a hot bath before bed.
  • Rub the chest and feet with Vicks Vaporub or Mentholatum. Cover with cotton t-shirt and socks. I cannot tell you how effective this is! 
  • If the area under the nose is becoming irritated, give it a coating of Vaporub/Mentholatum (if they will let you) or of Neosporin or Vaseline. If the skin is broken, use Neosporin.
  • Take something to promote sleep. I have been using Zarbee's natural cough syrup. It contains honey; vitamins; and melatonin, which puts them to sleep. I got mine at Target.
  • Elevate the head with an extra pillow.
  • Give lots of love and comfort. Consider reading them an extra book or two so they're more likely to fall asleep soon after you leave them.
  • If they wake up coughing during the night, help them sit up and blow their nose (many coughs come from post-nasal drip) and take a drink. Rearrange pillows so the head will still be elevated.

What do you do for colds at nighttime?

Up tomorrow: Treating coughs and colds during the day


  1. I like your ideas- but boy does all that take time! We had one kid puke in her bed from coughing the other night. Bleh. I wish the Vicks on the feet thing would work for me. We tried it and saw no difference. ) : But, I should be more proactive about some of that other stuff to help the poor kids out. You sound like a very compassionate mother!

    1. It does take a lot of time, especially with multiple kids. That just goes to show how desperate I was to get a good night's sleep, since the kids' coughing kept waking me up!

    2. If kids are coughing so hard they're throwing up, then pertussis needs to be considered. Even vaccinated kids are vulnerable--and I'm speaking from experience!

      But then again, some kids are just pukey when they cough--she's your kid and you're the one to know best.

  2. So sorry the kids are battleing the ole cold.. SO terrible this time of year.
    Sounds like you are doing just the right things.. I too totally believe in the Vicks vapor rub. [and adding the tshirt and socks on there is so right].
    My son has asthma [as I do] and when he was young, he would cough so bad at night. Vicks was our answer..When he woke up with the coughing, I would re-rub the vicks and when the cough was so bad, I rubbed the bottoms of his feet with it, and put his socks back on..and it would stop the coughing.. [Now, I know everyone is saying,"why" would you do the bottom of his feet? Has nothing to do with the post nasal drip???? I don't know myself, but one of the old doctors at the hospital where I worked suggested it.[I thought he was crazy,ha] But...it worked and until he got too big [and wouldnt let me..we did it.].. Had to tell you this story, thought you would enjoy it.lol
    Sending prayers the kids feel better soon. and that Mama doesn't get it.

    1. I don't understand about the feet either, but I asked my doctor, and she says she does it too!

  3. We always just create a sauna in the bathroom by trickling hot water in the shower and closing the door. We both chill in there for some time. Sometimes, I bathe to pass the time, other times she does, though that requires making the temp of the water more lukewarm. We read stories, play games, etc. A good while in there clears her up. Hope your kids get better soon.

    1. I did that with my son when he had croup. Actually all I have to do now is just let him take a shower—he likes his water super hot and it really steams up the bathroom!

  4. I do these things (except Vicks on the feet - although I have heard of it) and also homemade hot lemonade which is like cough syrup. I posted on it here: http://thriftathome.blogspot.com/2012/02/homemade-cough-syrup.html

    Wishing you all health very soon!!

  5. I have been told twice by two different doctor's and other times by family members of doctors not to use neosporin as it can damage the skin, but to use polysporin instead. I use that, or coconut oil and/or honey as both have antibiotic properties as well - honey has even been tested with striking results on diabetic skin ulcerations!

  6. Cate from Adelaide SA3/29/14, 1:14 AM

    We have always used 'Senega & Ammonia' mixture that I purchase cheaply from the Chemist Store. You only need 1 tablespoon and within a minute the cough recedes. So wonderful in the night. You can take it mixed in a little warm water if you wish. My son is now 29 and he buys it for his household. A frugal and very effective cough relief.