When your kid’s complaining of a scratchy or sore throat, you don’t have to immediately run for the medicine cabinet or the pharmacy. Here are some of the best natural sore throat remedies for kids.

Why And When You Should Use Natural Remedies

Sure, medications may help your kid’s sore throat feel a little better. In some cases, it may even be necessary. If it’s nothing serious, you can use some of the best natural sore throat remedies for kids instead of giving them over-the-counter medications that can come with unappealing side effects.

Some of the medications available promise to fight sore throats and other cold symptoms to bring your child some relief, but some of the over-the-counter options include:

A lot of sore throat medications shouldn’t be given to children under a certain age (often it’s 4, 6, or 12), and accidental overdoses are possible and very dangerous. Even with the right dosage, there are potentially artificial dyes, corn syrup, and other ingredients you don’t want your child to consume. It’s pretty difficult to endanger your child with a natural solution. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind a little extra hot chocolate!

9 Natural Ways to Relieve Sore Throat Pain

Honey and Lemon

Don’t give this one to a child under one year old simply because they’re not supposed to have honey at that age. In a child under 12 months old, bacteria spores found in honey could cause infant botulism.

After the one-year mark, honey isn’t really a concern, and a drink made up of warm water, honey, and a splash of fresh lemon juice can do the trick. Try:

  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 1 Tbsp raw honey
  • ½ Tbsp lemon juice

Honey is sweet, so kids love it. It’s there for more than the flavor, though. It’s antibacterial, contains antioxidants, and can coat the throat to offer some relief. The lemon’s there to break up mucus, and the warmth of the water will feel good on a scratchy throat.

Detox Tea

The detox tea may not go down as easily as lemon and honey for younger kids, but you can give it a try (maybe even add a little honey to sweeten it and take out the cayenne). Older kids may love it–either for the taste or because it makes them feel grown up to sit around drinking spicy tea. You can even give your kids this tea before they complain of a sore throat. If something’s going around at school but they haven’t caught it yet, use this tea to boost their immune system.

Gargling with Salt Water

Simple enough for kids around age 5 or 6 and up, right? You only need about ½ tsp of salt for a cup of warm water. Make sure the salt’s dissolved and have your child gargle with it and spit it out. If you often catch your kid goofing off in front of the sink, gargling when they should’ve been done brushing their teeth minutes ago, they’ll probably love the opportunity to try this natural sore throat remedy.

Peppermint (or Peppermint Tea)

Giving peppermint oil to a child or applying it directly to their skin can be harmful, but adding a little to a diffuser or steam (discussed below) could help relieve sore throat pain. Another option is peppermint tea, like Two Leaves Tea’s organic one. The peppermint has a soothing effect on the throat, the menthol works as an expectorant to break up mucus, and the warmth of the tea itself feels amazing on a scratchy throat. You can even sweeten it up with honey and increase the benefits in the cup.

Marshmallow Root

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Marshmallow root, or althaea, has been used as food and medicinally for centuries. Though this is far from a quick fix (ideally, you steep it overnight, then strain and drink it) it coats the throat and reduces irritation. Use 1 Tbps of dry marshmallow root in a cup of boiling water.

Marshmallow root is generally accepted as safe for children, but it can interfere with some medications and affect blood sugar, so you should check with a health practitioner before going this route.

Echinacea and Sage

A mix of Echinacea and sage (in spray form) has been shown to be as good at relieving sore throats as a mix of chlorhexidine/lidocaine after three days of use. Both herbs have been used for warding off sickness for centuries. Echinacea boosts the immune system and helps fight off colds while sage helps break up mucus and acts as an antiseptic.

Only children 12 and over should use Echinacea, since it’s been linked to the risk of severe allergic reaction. If your kids are old enough, you can pick up the spray at the health food store or online.

Steam with Essential Oils

Add a little essential oil to hot water and let your child breathe in the steam. For best results, drape a towel over his or her head and the bowl. Try:

  • Eucalyptus
  • Peppermint
  • German chamomile
  • Benzoin
  • Lavender

Of course this isn’t the best choice for younger children because of the proximity to very hot water and the risk of an accident. For more information about steam inhalations with essential oils, take a look at Untrained Housewife’s guide.

Lots of Water 

Getting your child to drink enough water is always important, but that hydration is especially critical when they’re ill. Staying hydrated will help fight off the bacteria or wash away allergens that are causing the sore throat. The amount of water a child needs varies just like the amount for adults. It depends on activity level, temperature, and climate, and it’s also affected by the amount of watery fruits and vegetables in his or her diet. If the urine is mostly clear or light yellow, they’re probably getting enough water.

If your kid’s not a fan of plain water, you can always add a little flavor with crushed berries, cucumbers, lemon, orange, etc. Fill a pitcher with fresh water and add your fruit, then keep it in the refrigerator. The longer it’s there, the more flavorful it will become.

Vegan Hot Chocolate

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What kid doesn’t like hot chocolate? The warmth from our mostly raw vegan hot chocolate recipe will soothe a sore throat without increasing mucus production.

Ending Sore Throats at Home

When the sore throat is just because of a cold or allergies, it’s usually okay to try some of the best natural sore throat remedies for kids before going any further. However, if there are additional symptoms or the sore throat persists, additional care may be needed.