Many of us have fond memories of our mothers taking care of us when we were sick as children. Though some of the home remedies are now considered dangerous and outrageous, some still hold true as trusted treatment for minor symptoms at home. For example, your mother might have used a drop of rum on your sensitive gums when you were first teething. Now giving your baby alcohol sounds ludicrous. However, you also probably remember your mother rubbing a soothing vapor rub on your chest to calm your cough and congestion. This method of home treatment is still considered safe as long as you use the appropriate formula for the age of your baby.

Studies show that babies under two years old that were exposed to the menthol commonly used in many vapor rubs had a greater chance of suffering from negative consequences. These babies often came down with jaundice as a result of their exposure. Luckily, you can buy vapor rubs specifically for babies under two years old, or you can seek out rubs that do not list menthol as an ingredient. Other common ingredients in vapor rubs such as eucalyptus and oils are safe for babies. If you're concerned about the ingredients in your baby's vapor rub, you could also consider making your own formula. The are many recipes available online, and knowing exactly what the substance is comprised of might help you rest easier. Though, any rub without camphor and menthol in the list of ingredients should be fine, especially if it is advertised as an adaptor rub for babies.

As long as the ingredients are okay for your newborn, vapor rubs are one of the few home remedies that have withstood the test of time. Aside from the menthol varieties, studies show that they are safe to use on babies who are suffering from common cold symptoms. Since vapor rubs are only designed to be palliative, make sure you also seek out treatment to cure your baby's cold from his or her pediatrician. Also, make sure you carefully avoid getting the vapor rub in any cuts or opening in your infants skin as it could cause an unpleasant reaction in his or her system.

Vapor rubs are a safe and effective home remedy for cold symptoms in a newborn baby as long as you carefully check the ingredients before using one on your baby under two.

Source: SA Olowe et al: THE RISK OF JAUNDICE IN GLUCOSE-6-PHOSPHATE DEHYDROGENASE DEFICIENT BABIES EXPOSED TO MENTHOL. Acta Pediatrica Volume 69 issue 3 May 2008