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Breathing difficulties in children

Updated on September 19, 2013

COUGH. COUGH. COUGH - When the doctors don’t help and you are out of ideas

Ever since my twins were born I noticed some differences between the girl and the boy, when it came to breathing and eating. Simple and natural as those two things are, my daughter seemed to have quite some problems with both things. When she was sleeping, even a light day sleep, she snored like you wouldn't believe. We used to laugh about it because everybody stared at the baby stroller, trying to reconcile the snoring noise with the picture of the little baby sleeping. When I breastfed, or even afterwards, with the bottle, it seemed she struggled quite a bit to reconcile drinking the milk and breathing. Obviously, having another baby only made it worse, because I could compare both and given he had none of these problems, I worried much more for her. After all, being born from the same pregnancy, at the same time, same conditions, what could be wrong? Also, being my first children I worried more, because everything was new and a bit terrifying.

In and out of doctors’ offices

I started looking for answers and a way to solve her problem, so I visited several doctors. I’m not sure what was worse during those times: opinions divided, either it was absolutely nothing and she would grow of it or it was terrible and I couldn't even think about taking her here or there, because she wouldn't resist and she would be terribly sick.

So, none of them helped. The thing is you hear you are supposed to go to the doctor if the condition doesn't disappear in so many days, but what do you do when the condition never disappears? Do you move in the doctor’s office?

Some claimed that it was just laryngomalacia, which literally means soft larynx and it’s supposed to be a very common condition on babies, whose immature cartilage of the upper larynx collapses inward during inhalation, causing airway obstruction. Obviously, usually babies grow out of this condition around two years old.

Others talked about allergies, which apparently you couldn't be sure existed until around three years old.

Then there were the pharyngeal tonsil or nasopharyngeal tonsil, which probably were too big, causing the condition.

All of the above however shared the common feeling that all would go away eventually and no harm would come of this, whatever this was.

Finally, I came across the pessimist, the child was so frail, she could not be out and about with other children. Lord knows what kind of bacteria they had and what that would do to my baby. And by no means should I let her sleep with her baby blankie. And probably she would have to have a surgery asap.

Well, that basically did it for me and I decided to take it lighter and deal with it myself. So long as she wasn't suffering, I could handle it.

Today, she is three and a half and although she’s a bit better, she still has some issues. She has colds very often, she coughs a lot, especially during the night and she snores. But I have some strategies to deal with all this (except for the snoring ). So, here are tips for other moms that may face the same problem.

Do’s and don’ts

Obviously, I’m careful so that she’s not out and about in the backyard if it’s too cold and I’m always checking to make sure she’s not playing with water and the likes and getting all wet, but apart from that I try to let her be, just like her brother, so that she can pick up her own defenses.

I try not to stuff her into coats and coats and I encourage her to go out to play. I’m a big fan of the backyard, the park and the beach. Even during the winter we go to the beach quite often to have a walk and so they can play for a while near the ocean. I find the ocean breeze and the beach are very good for this condition.

I've never took her blankie away from her, as I thought it was very cruel, but I raised her mattress a bit beneath her head, so that she had an easier time breathing in her sleep.

Also, she was a real pacifier addict and obviously that did not help her breathe, so I took the pacifier away, but only when I realized that thumb sucking would not be an option. It would be no good if I took the pacifier away and she started sucking on her thumb. But when I took it away, it was all about the pacifier, not really sucking, so it probably didn't even cross her mind that she could suck on her thumb.

When her cough gets worse I use some of my mother home recipes. When things are really tough I use several of them at the same time. So, here are some of my favorites:

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Lemon cough syrup 1Lemon cough syrup 2Carrot cough syrup 1Carrot cough syrup 2Carrot cough syrup 3Carrot cough syrup 4HoneyNebulizer
Lemon cough syrup 1
Lemon cough syrup 1 | Source
Lemon cough syrup 2
Lemon cough syrup 2 | Source
Carrot cough syrup 1
Carrot cough syrup 1 | Source
Carrot cough syrup 2
Carrot cough syrup 2 | Source
Carrot cough syrup 3
Carrot cough syrup 3 | Source
Carrot cough syrup 4
Carrot cough syrup 4 | Source
Honey | Source
Nebulizer | Source

Boiled eucalyptus leaves

I gather some leaves from a young eucalyptus tree (from the species” Eucalyptus globulus Labill”). This sort of eucalyptus is easy to recognize, when young the leaves are of a blue greenish color and they’re very scented. Some call it male eucalyptus.

Basically, you just need to gather the leaves and boil it in water. Usually, I bring my child to the kitchen with me while I’m doing that and I close the doors so she inhales the vapors. Even better, it would be to boil it in a closed pot and after a while remove it from the heat and inhale the vapors directly from the steaming pot, but she’s too little for that still.

Carrot syrup

Another old time favorite is the carrot syrup. It’s true it’s loaded with sugars, but so long as it serves its purpose, we can overlook the extra sugar for two or three days.

Peel one or two carrots and slice them into a bowl, then cover them with sugar or honey and let it rest for a while until the sugar or honey liquefies and mixes with the juices from the carrot. Then, it’s done and there are no worries concerning max. dosage.

Thyme tea

Just pay a visit to the garden and gather some thyme, wash it well and boil it to make some tea. Once it’s done pour the tea into a tea-cup and add a bit of honey, which serves a double purpose, sweetness and helping with the cough.

Lemon syrup

Slice a lemon and lay out the slices on a plate, then sprinkle them with sugar. Wait for the sugar to liquefy with the lemon juices and it’s done.


Honey has always been a folk’s remedy for cough and the fact is that it works. In fact, recent studies have shown than when compared with some cough medicines’ on the market, honey is better.

So, 1 or 2 teaspoons of honey before bed is wonderful to calm the child’s cough down. Beware not to give honey to children under 1 year old.


I've also bought a nebulizer and whenever she gets worse I use it at least twice a day, before bedtime and as soon as she is off bed, first thing in the morning. I don’t use it with any medicines, just saline. It seems to improve the air passageways and she breaths a little better.


When I finally relaxed and decided to take things into my own hands, everything seemed to be better, probably also because I was in control, it was up to me and that thought helped. Also, not hearing contradictory opinions from doctors constantly and trying all sorts of recipes that got me nowhere helped quite a bit and lifted off some of the confusion I experienced for a while. I really felt I could help her feel better and I think it’s working. Although she still has her problems, she is getting better and all the home recipes help out.

Perhaps in the future we may have to consider a surgery, as was pointed out by some doctors, perhaps it is pharyngeal tonsil or nasopharyngeal tonsil, as lately has been pointed out, but if we get to that at least she won’t be so small and frail to face a surgery and deal with the aftermath.

But that, if it happens, it’s something to worry about in the long run, because for now the tea and honey and the eucalyptus leaves and all the hugs and kisses have been the state of the art medicines that make all the difference.

Please let me know if you liked this hub... Leave a comment and don't forget to vote.

© Copyright To use part or the whole article you must first get written permission from the author. Feel free, nonetheless, to use an intro of the hub with a link to the article here on hubpages for the rest of the article.

© 2012 Joana e Bruno


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    • profile image

      Tawny 3 years ago

      That's really thinking at an imspvsriee level

    • profile image

      Aku Dovlo Ghana 3 years ago

      The information is so appropriate and relevant from age 0 to 100.


    • algarveview profile image

      Joana e Bruno 5 years ago from Algarve, Portugal

      Hi, Zelbee, I know just what you mean about feeling helpless... It's terrible... If you think she has allergies there are some tests the doctors can run... I remember we also had those done, but they came back negative.. At one point, doctors suspected it could be the milk, even, but again negative... They can also check for Asthma... It's dreadful not knowing what to do... Also, I took her to several doctors to have more than one opinion, I think that is very important, just so that we are sure that is nothing too serious... Although in the end we will still worry until we really see the problem is gone... In my case, since 90 % of the Doctor's opinions were that we shouldn't worry about it, I decided to take it slow and deal with it myself, but if that hadn't been the case, I would have to deal with it in a different way...Have you gone to several doctors? Have they all said the same or not? How old is she now? Do you think she is getting a bit better or do you think she’s the same, nothing has changed in time? In your case, I think, I would first check the question of the allergies and the asthma before trying anything else. I hope it’s nothing serious and that your daughter gets better soon... Take care and happy 2013!

    • profile image

      Zelbee 5 years ago

      My daughter breathes laboriously during the day and at night. We've cancelled two surgeries to remove her tonsils and anodes because we weren't convinced that all other solutions were investigated. I can't bare to lay next to her while she sleeps because hearing her breathe makes me feel helpless. We have problems with the vent in our bathroom. Cigarette smoke, etc. fikters through snd we csnt seem to figure out hie. The prooerty msnergy of the apt. building doesn't seem to know how to handle it. Im beginning to believe thst she has sllergies. Thanks for your hub, I will try everything you suggested.

    • algarveview profile image

      Joana e Bruno 6 years ago from Algarve, Portugal

      Hi, Flora, you are quite right, these home medicines are good at any age. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      I know this is a hub about children, but these are good ideas for any age (so says non-parent me.)

    • algarveview profile image

      Joana e Bruno 6 years ago from Algarve, Portugal

      Hello, Nell, thanks for your advice, will ask for that test, had never heard of it. It's quite strange, isn't it, but the Asthma option never came up. Thank you for reading.

      Hi,Rachel, yes the carrot syrup is really great, it was my favourite when I was a kid and my children also love it and it really calms the cough down, don't ask me how... Thank you for reading and commenting.

    • Rachel Richmond profile image

      Rachel Richmond 6 years ago from California

      I hadn't heard of the carrot syrup ~ that's pretty cool. I will have to try should a challenge come up. Great hub.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

      Hi, As an Asthmatic it definitely sounds like that to me, if a child keeps coughing then he or she can't open the bronchials to take enough oxygen, by coughing they are trying to constantly shift it, but are only making it worse because it just keeps irritating it, I don't understand why the doctor never said that, ask for a 'peak flow' test. this is where the doctor makes the person blow into something that looks like a cardboard tube with a dial on the side, all depending on how far up the dial goes, how bad is the asthma, okay?

    • algarveview profile image

      Joana e Bruno 6 years ago from Algarve, Portugal

      Hello, Lynn3, home remedies are really something. Thank you for your feedback and I'm happy you enjoyed the hub. All the best.

      Hello, K9, I think you are right when you say we over medicate them and that's quite concerning, one day the medicines will just stop working. Glad you liked the hub and thank you for commenting.

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

      I think we tend to over medicate our children much to much these days. It's a nice change to see home remedies for treating breathing problems in children!



    • algarveview profile image

      Joana e Bruno 6 years ago from Algarve, Portugal

      Hello, AEvans, thank you for reading and thank you for the advices, I never thought about Asthma and actually no one ever mentioned it, but I will look into that. I hope you like the home remedies.

    • Lynn3 profile image

      Lynn3 6 years ago from USA

      I like your home remedies. Used some of them in our home as well. Good advice for all.

    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      Great advice and wonderful home remedies. Natural is sometimes the best for our little ones. The coughing sounds like Asthma or severe allergies. I would have both tested. I am only a Nurse and not a Doctor, but I would recommend it. I am going to follow your advice and also try some of your remedies. Informative thank you so much! :)

    • algarveview profile image

      Joana e Bruno 6 years ago from Algarve, Portugal

      Hello, Simone, that's a good point you made, most problems with children pass, sometimes it quites seems a myracle, because you don't really understand how or why and you fight it for so long and then it just... Amazing. Very true. I'm happy you enjoyed the hub, thank you.

    • algarveview profile image

      Joana e Bruno 6 years ago from Algarve, Portugal

      Hello, Cardelean, I think most of all we need to know when to listen to the experts and when to follow our heart. Sometimes that's the hardest part, knowing how to pick out the two. Good luck with your children and thank you for reading.

    • algarveview profile image

      Joana e Bruno 6 years ago from Algarve, Portugal

      Hi, Msviolets, the snoring is quite something, isn't it? Because you never dreamed such a small baby could snore like that. Sometimes, when she's sleeping with me she actually wakes me up, the poor child, but then again I do have a light sleep. The thyme tea is quite nice and the flavour is light, so the kids drink it easily. Glad you liked it and hope the tips are helpful somehow.

    • algarveview profile image

      Joana e Bruno 6 years ago from Algarve, Portugal

      Hello, Steph, glad to hear your son got better, it's quite a relief to see a lot of the problems go away when they are older. I hope my daughter grows out of it, also. Thank's for reading and I'm happy you enjoyed it.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      While I didn't have breathing problems as a baby, I sure did have my fair share of difficulties as a child, and my mother faced many difficulties similar to your own. Happily, my problems passed, and I hope your daughter's issues will pass as well.

      You seem to be taking things in stride, though! Your approach is great.

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 6 years ago from Michigan

      Neither of my children have had breathing issues, thankfully, but they both snore. I know that they have enlarged tonsils but they are too young to have them removed according to the doctors. I definitely feel that as the parent you know your child best and although it is important to listen to the "experts", as Steph said, trust yourself. Nicely done.

    • msviolets profile image

      msviolets 6 years ago

      Interesting hub! My oldest had some snoring issues, eventually we learned her adenoids were quite swollen (to the point that they blocked drainage completely at times) while her tonsils weren't at all, or rarely.

      I didn't know you could use a nebulizer with saline, we'll have to look into that! And thyme tea sounds like a great home remedy, thanks for the tip!

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Your description of your daughter's breathing difficulties reminds me of when my oldest was a baby. We eventually got a nebulizer, which did work quite well. When he ran around and jumped up and down, he seemed to have difficulty breathing, although they never diagnosed asthma. He's 14 now and no issues at all.... Love all your suggested natural remedies and the tip to trust yourself and your intuition when it comes to kids. Rated up!


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