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Home Remedies for a Cough (For Babies, Toddlers & Adults)

Do you (or your kids) have a nasty cough? These three home cough remedies are for you. Plus you can whip them up quickly and easily with everyday ingredients.

Woman holding a jar of garlic salve in her kitchen.

When it’s cold and flu season it’s inevitable to have a cough roll through our home. Because we’re a large family with ten kids, it tends to get passed from one person to the next. That’s why we like to try and head it off at its onset in hopes some of us are spared.

We love using medicinal herbs to help remedy most of our ailments and we even use medicinal herbs on farm animals (here is a list of the 15 medicinal herbs you should grow and their benefits), but there are some amazing foods that also help do the trick.

Listed below are some of our favorite go-to remedies… (not listed, but also very important are homemade elderberry syrup, this wonderful chest congestion remedy, and also one of our favorite, and very effective, mustard plaster remedies.)

It’s important to note that I am not a certified medical practitioner. This post is not intended to diagnose or treat but is for informational purposes only. Please contact your healthcare professional before introducing new herbal and natural remedies into your wellness routine.

Peppermint Tea & Honey

When you have a cough, especially if it’s accompanied by phlegm, it’s important to keep your throat warm to allow the mucus to break up so it’s easier to expel.

We like to inhale steam by putting our heads over a steaming bowl of water and covering it with a towel. We also will wet a hand towel in very hot water and lay it over our neck and chest.

But our very favorite way to keep our throat nice and warm is to sip on peppermint tea sweetened with honey throughout the day. (We grow peppermint in our medicinal herb garden, then dry it and store it for the winter.)

Peppermint tea is very calming (Source) and honey will coat your throat to alleviate your cough. If peppermint isn’t your thing, try my medicinal hop tea.

On a hot summer day, there’s not much better than a refreshing glass of herbal iced tea to help keep you cool.


What’s an oxymel? An oxymel is a remedy that originates from ancient Greece and Persia (oxy = acid; mel = honey). In its simplest form, it’s just equal parts vinegar and honey.

You can make an oxymel more medicinal by steeping herbs in the vinegar before mixing with honey. Herbs like hyssop (Source) or thyme (Source) are great for soothing a cough.

How to Make an Oxymel

To make an oxymel take equal parts vinegar and honey and mix until dissolved. Take a teaspoon at a time, multiple times daily, until symptoms are gone.

Alternatively, you can steep some freshly grown thyme or hyssop in about a cup of apple cider vinegar. Let the herbs steep for two to four weeks, strain well. Then, take equal parts of your herbal vinegar and honey and mix well.

How Long Will an Oxymel Last?

Because both vinegar and honey are both shelf-stable, an oxymel can sit on your counter (or in your pantry) almost indefinitely. Just be sure it’s in a sealed container because it’s definitely a fruit fly attractant.

Garlic Salve (Good for Toddlers, Babies & Adults)

Woman pouring garlic salve from a blender into a small glass jar.

We grow garlic for culinary and medicinal purposes. Though not “technically” a salve because it doesn’t include beeswax, this garlic remedy sets up in the refrigerator and resembles a salve, which is why we’re calling it “garlic salve”.

This is our go-to remedy as soon as we hear a cough in our home. Since garlic is both antibacterial (Source) and antiviral (Source), it’s the perfect go-to when you’re not sure what’s causing your cough.

This salve is safe for adults, toddlers, and even babies and will last about two weeks in the refrigerator, so adjust the recipe and scale up or down as needed.

How to Make a Garlic Salve

We prefer to mix this salve up in a high-powered blender. However, you could use a food processor or even a mortar and pestle (and a whole lot of elbow grease!).

How to Use Garlic Salve

To use the garlic salve, simply apply a dime to a quarter-sized amount to the chest, neck, back and soles of the feet and rub in well. You’ll want to wear a shirt and socks you don’t mind getting stained, as the coconut oil may seep into the shirt or socks just a bit.

Apply multiple times daily until symptoms subside.

Woman holding a jar of garlic salve in her kitchen.

Garlic Salve Cough Remedy

This garlic salve is the perfect home remedy for a cough. It's safe for babies, toddlers, and adults. Use as needed, multiple times daily, until cough is gone.
4.12 from 135 votes
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Author: Carolyn Thomas


  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (slightly warm)
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic (medium size)
  • 5 drops lavender essential oil


  • Measure out all ingredients and peel the garlic.
  • Add all ingredients into a high powered blender and blend.
  • Scrape down sides of the blender as needed and continue blending until it's nice and smooth.
  • Pour into a glass jar and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
  • Apply multiple times daily to the chest, back, neck and soles of the feet.


  • This salve smells very strongly of garlic, use multiple times daily. 
  • Salve is good for croup coughs, deep coughs, coughs accompanied with phlegm/mucus, and dry coughs.
  • This salve is not good for whooping cough.
  • Keep using salve for a couple days after your cough goes away to be sure it doesn’t come back.
  • If your cough is persistent, check out this video on How to Make a Mustard Plaster.
Tried this recipe?We want to see! Tag @homesteadingfamily on Instagram.
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