What are your favorite home remedies when your kids are sick?

My son started our most recent round of illness last week. He had a cold and was home from school three days. I caught it, and Rose caught it. Lilina has been draining and coughing for a month due to allergy and asthma.(She went to the doctor three weeks ago and did a phone consult two weeks ago.) I took both girls to the pediatrician yesterday and both were put on antibiotic. The cold has turned into a sinus infection for my oldest and the youngest has developed a throat infection from all the draining from the allergies. Mom is sick too but no doctor for me — yet.

I made hot and sour soup last night to soothe our throats. (More on the soup later — I used Swanson’s new soup starter, and I want to report in on the product.) I bought ice pops and got the ingredients to make the hot tea my mom used to make me when I little. Here’s the recipe for the hot spiced tea. It’s very 1970s but it’s good.

Spiced Tea from Vera at the First Baptist Church of Decatur

(Vera used to work with my mother at the church. She was the nicest woman ever. I used to call her “The Smiling Lady.”

I’m not sure if she is still alive.)

1 1/4 cups of Tang (I was worried the store wouldn’t carry it but it did.)

1/2  cup of sugar

1/3 cup instant tea

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

dash of salt and mix

My mother would keep it in a glass jar for when we were sick. (I can still picture the etching on the glass.) You would use a teaspoon or so with hot water. So I plan to mix that up today for me and Rose.

One other item to mention. My pediatrician didn’t want the girls taking a cough suppressant with asthma and instead recommended the Zarbee’s Natural Children’s cough syrup. (She likes the grape and lemon flavors.) I got the nighttime formula. So the big ingredients are dark honey, Vitamin C, Zinc and melatonin, which is what your body produces to help you sleep. I did notice they fell asleep really quickly last night. I guess that was why. I didn’t read the box until this morning. So I was surprised to see that in there.

What are your favorite home remedies when your kids are sick? Do you pull out stuff from your childhood? Do you make things your mom used to make you? (My hot and sour soup for a sore throat started when we lived in New York City and Chinese take out was so ubiquitous.) Have you ever tried the Zarbee’s cough syrups?

24 comments Add your comment


November 5th, 2013
10:17 am

Vick’s Vaporub on our throats, chests, upper back and the soles of our feet at bedtime. Sleep in a comfy old t-shirt and socks. In the morning we will usually cough up all of the phlegm and be right as rain after that. Ironically, I’m barking like a seal as I type this because I’ve had a cold for a week and have not thought about taking my own advise. :-)

Nature is the best remedy

November 5th, 2013
10:32 am

Two BIG tablespoons of honey!


November 5th, 2013
11:01 am

I remember when that “tea” recipe was popular. I’m sitting in a doctor’s office now because I’ve been sick for a week but don’t think I’ll pick up any Tang with my prescription. Just soup with real ingredients and maybe a fresh box of real tea.


November 5th, 2013
11:35 am

I remember the spice tea and have not had it in years! I typically get laryngitis in the fall, but so far I am good. It starts out as sinus drainage, for me. Once, I had an infection in my larynx. NO fun.

@ Stacey…I read about the Vick’s on your feet and wondered if it works. I have not tried it yet.

I know lots of folks who have this now , so these tips should be helpful. Hope you feel better soon!


November 5th, 2013
11:36 am

COMMENT GONE and it was not long either…too bad!! TWG I am not sure what that is about.


November 5th, 2013
12:47 pm

Ditto on Staceys comment. VAPORUB rules.

So does Chicken Soup and gingerale. Then watch some old comedy movies. Lots of them.

cathy lee

November 5th, 2013
1:10 pm

I always put a bowl of turpentine under my kids bed, works every time, if you can’t find the turpntine , castor oil is just as good.


November 5th, 2013
1:19 pm

I ditto the Vicks recommendation. This week has been hot water/lemon juice/honey mixture for both of mine who have been ill. I will copy your tea recipe. For nasal stuff we each have our own NeilMed bottle. I swear by them. Easy to use, even for children. Same concept as a neti-pot but I like the control of the bottle better. Flushes all that drainage and gunk from the nose. Hope everyone feels better soon.

'ol Timey

November 5th, 2013
2:32 pm

Pine risin and burnt motor oil on a crup rag.

'ol Timey

November 5th, 2013
2:34 pm

Sasafras tea with a touch of yeller root and white licker mixed together. It loosens you up.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

November 5th, 2013
3:12 pm

The doctor also recommended the Vick’s trick — we all did it last night. She also said the spoonfuls of honey.

She had recommended to me a few week’s back Wish Garden’s Kick-Ass Immune. They have a children’s version too. It tastes awful but she says she gives it to her kids and it keeps them well. They don’t like taking it at all.


Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

November 5th, 2013
3:13 pm

Now looking at the tea recipe — no wonder you felt better — Vitamin C fro the Tang, caffeine from the tea and sugar — you would get a little energy kick. I mainly like it because it reminds me of my mother making it for me.

Mother of 2

November 5th, 2013
3:39 pm

I keep home made chicken stock in the freezer so I can make chicken soup whenever someone gets sick. I brown fresh onion and garlic with the vegetables, add the stock and chicken, and season. Works like a charm :-)


November 5th, 2013
4:18 pm

We used to call the tea “Russian Tea” back in the 60’s — not sure why, since I never knew the Russians were famous for their oranges. :-)

For me, chicken soup, Gatorade, a hot steamy shower and SLEEP usually fixes me right up. Sorry your whole crew is sick, T — make sure YOU get some rest, too, otherwise, everything falls apart!!

Once Again

November 5th, 2013
4:24 pm

Vick’s Vapo-rub, lots of vitamin D, C, and zinc. Fever is your body’s way of raising your temperature enough to kill the invaders. Don’t undermine the defenses “god” gave you. Enhance them, sweat it out, and return to healthy again.


November 5th, 2013
4:28 pm

@ Stacey–yep, my grandmother and parents swear the Vick’s on the soles of the feet is the reason it all works.

@ DB – I knew that as Russian Tea too. We make it at Christmas.

I do not give it to my kids but still do this for me:

Vernor’s Gingerale (heated in the microwave until almost boiling)
Lemon (half of one squeezed out)
1 Tbsp Honey
1 healthy shot of wiskey

Drink it fast while under blankets…with the Vick’s your pretty much out for the night. Wake up go to hot shower and cough all that crap out.


November 5th, 2013
4:30 pm

Oh and if the cough was very croupy we got the vaporizer thing that puts water in the air.


November 5th, 2013
5:45 pm

Why would people put Vicks on their feet? And with socks? It works by breathing it in — that’s why the jar says put it on your chest. I’ve heard of putting it on babies’ bare feet (a bit of distance to keep the smell from overwhelming them) but I don’t think I’d do that either since their skin is so sensitive. Maybe mix up a weaker substitute with baby lotion and some eucalyptus drops.


November 5th, 2013
6:05 pm

DB – Yep. Russian Tea. We make it at Christmas and give jars of the mix as gifts.

For sick kids — lemonade made with real lemons (Not powdered mix) and soft pretzels, hot and salted.
Homemade chicken and rice soup is also a staple.

For sick me — hot lemon tea with maraschino cherries in it. Ruffles potato chips and toasted pimento cheese sandwiches.


November 5th, 2013
6:49 pm

Regarding the post that the Vit C and caffeine in the tea and sugar makes one feel better. Studies have found little measurable benefit from mega doses of vitamin C aside from a slight decrease in the duration if taken PRIOR to appearance of symptoms.

So, its unlikely the vitamin C in Tang makes you feel better. The tea does have caffeine so that might give you a bit of a boost. Sugar has no caffeine. Could be a bit of the placebo effect too.


November 6th, 2013
8:03 am

HB…there are people who swear by the Vicks on your feet. I have never tried it but they say it works!
You put socks on to keep it from getting all over everything else.


November 6th, 2013
8:28 am

@ HB the active ingredient, menthol, acts to dilate the blood vessels in the feet, and this triggers some reflex that quiets the cough. The remedy wouldn’t have seemed so strange to doctors a hundred years ago, who often prescribed liniments and poultices containing mild irritants such as mustard, garlic, or camphor to the chest and to the soles of the feet to relieve symptoms of colds and whooping cough. Like Vicks VapoRub, the active ingredients of which include camphor, eucalyptus, and menthol, these preparations would have had the effect of stimulating blood flow to the skin.

As my grandmother was from rural TN it is likely she grew up with home medicine of poltices and whiskey. With Vick’s relatively inexpensive(even now) and easier than a poltice, she probably used that on her children–and gave them the whiskey in a toddy like I described earlier. Both of these were used on my brother and I growing up…although Dimetapp replaced the whiskey at some point…followed by Robitussin. These days it is Delsyum and Vick’s for the kids, and often for me. Whiskey, for me only, if it is a really bad cold though, under tons of blankets and sweat it out.

Michael Straham was saying he has a cold. He said on Kelly and Michael the other morning he remembers his parents doing the Whiskey Toddy (so did Kelly) when he was like 7 years old. The medicines we have today are actually fairly new.

Another side note: when I was in HS working for Eckerd Drugs we sold poltices.


November 6th, 2013
2:24 pm

Don’t remember any home remedies for when I was sick as a child. I do remember taking oatmeal baths when I had chicken pox. In the evening it was oatmeal with mint.

One thing I do remember doing whenever I was sick: After we’d leave the doctor’s office, I’d always ask to go rent a couple of movies. One of the mainstays was the Disney adaptation of “Alice in Wonderland”. I don’t know why, but I always wanted to rent that movie whenever I was sick. I think the surrealism of it made more sense to me when I was sick. Also seemed to help whatever medications I was taking work faster, since I’d be back in school within a few days.


November 7th, 2013
11:23 am

The VIcks rub on your feet works wonderful..I do that a lot with me and the kids.. I also just saw where a friend of mine says that you can put Vick’s rub in a candle warmer and it will help with your breathing..

My Mom used the same wiskey hot toddy that FCM mentioned..I haven’t ever used it for my two though.. The girl loves hom made chicken noodle soup when she’s feeling puny (sp)..Sleep, we do a lot of that when we aren’t feeling good, seems to work for us..