Cold & Flu Season Herbal Recipes Natural Remedies

How To Make An Onion Poultice For Kids

March 1, 2015

How To Make An Onion Poultice For Kids
Quick preface! I’m not a doctor and don’t claim to be one! If you have a kiddo with really labored breathing or really struggling with a cough, you should be seeking medical assistance via ER or your doctor’s office. There is definitely a time and place for both! This is my own experience using onion poultice with my girls for chest colds and you can use the method at your own discretion. Product links are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I would never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family – what is linked here is exactly what I use.

I’m not sure there is a much more of a panicking middle of the night wake up call than a barky seal cough from your child.

The very first time it happened to me as a mom, my oldest was about 3 and it scared the living daylights out of me! I remembered reading that cold air helped them calm a cough down so my husband held her in a blanket on the snowy front step of our house, and within seconds her cough calmed.

I learned quick that it is really no fun to have a sick kiddo and I started studying tried and true natural ways to help children get through an illness. As it turns out many simple, old natural remedies that our great grandparents probably used are super effective, and an onion poultice for chest congestion is one of them.

How To Make An Onion Poultice For Kids
The combination of the warm, moist onion poultice with the natural expectorant quality of the onion help to break up the congestion. My experience using this on my girls has been very successful and within a good 10 minutes of wearing the pack they are able to cough more freely and easily to loosen it all up and get it out.

How To Make An Onion Poultice For Kids
So we have agreed this onion poultice thing is great…but getting a 3 year old to agree that the onion poultice is great can be tricky – let alone a sick 3 year old! Here are some ways I have made this process more successful for everyone:

  • Be sure the poultice isn’t too hot. What feels warm and good to you is probably still too hot for little ones in my experience. I let the poultice cool off for a good 5 – 10 minutes after coming out of the pot. It shouldn’t be uncomfortable or hurt – it should be warm and comforting to them.
  • Let them pick out the towel to use. I actually got a cheap pack of tea towels with bright, fun colors just for using with onion poultices for the girls. It came with 4 towels so I have enough to rotate around if I have more than one with a cough and if I have to get 1 or 2 into the laundry.
  • Spray some lavender essential oil or other essential oil blend that they like on the top of the poultice that will be facing up so they can smell that instead of the onion. This last cold we ran through the house I actually sprayed the Calming the Child blend from Plant Therapy, and really felt like it kept things calm too. I have a small spray bottle with water and about 10 drops of the EO in there. Just shake it up before you spray. You only need a small spray or 2! If they are really sensitive to the onion smell you can put an extra towel over the top of the poultice and then spray.
  • Get a distraction going *before* you put the poultice on. Get a stack of books next to them for them to read or for you to snuggle up to them to read to them. We don’t have the TV running all day, but when you need a child to sit still for 15 or so minutes, putting on an appropriate educational show or musical isn’t the end of the world in my experience. I used the girl’s LeapPads for games while they lay there too.
  • One of my girls really liked the idea of making her a “nest” to lay in on the floor while she had hers on – a big pile of blankets in the shape of a circle with her favorite stuffed animals (and her big sister laying next to her too!).
  • I’m not against a reward system for the really little ones. My 5 year old can understand the importance of sitting still for the poultice to work, but last year my 2 ½ year old did NOT. Doing 5 minutes or so at a time and getting a sticker or something helped move things along without the fight. This year at 3 ½ she understands better and wanted to get better so reasoning with her is just much more do-able.
  • Let them know the why 🙂 You can tell them it will help them get the gunk out of their chest so it doesn’t get infected and so they get better faster! It’s amazing what they understand! And amazing what they will go from not wanting to do, to willingly doing when they know what to expect. And really the warm pack feels good and is really comforting and warm – once they feel it usually my girls are willing to have it on for a while.

How To Make An Onion Poultice For Kids
So here is how to make a simple onion poultice for kids! Please keep in mind that if your child is really laboring with their breathing and things just don’t feel right you should be going to the ER and/or calling your doctor.

How To Make An Onion Poultice For Kids

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

How To Make An Onion Poultice For Kids

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Author: Renee -


  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • Water to cover the bottom of your sauce pan


  • Put the water in the bottom of your sauce pan along with the onion and bring to a simmer with the lid on for 10 minutes.
  • Strain out any extra liquid and put the steamed onion into a thin kitchen towel or tea towel and fold it up. I like to lay the towel out horizontal and fold the top and bottom up over the onion, then fold the sides in – like making a burrito. Their little chests are so tiny so just be sure the onions in the middle aren’t all spread out.
  • Let the poultice cool for about 5-10 minutes before applying to your child’s chest. My youngest needs it cooled even longer as her tolerance for warm even in a bath is cool to me! Let the poultice sit on their chest up to 20 minutes if they will sit there long enough.
  • You can re-heat the poultice throughout the day. I like to just put the whole poultice right back in the pan and warm it on low heat. Discard the onion after using it for a day.

Here is another great resource about naturally dealing with chest congestion. I also like to use the Hylands Cough N Cold remedy at nighttime finding it really helps with calming the cough and helping them rest.

You can also read about natural flu remedies HERE and how I was able to clear up an ear infection in my oldest naturally HERE.

And come follow my pintrest board My Herbal Ways for more natural and DIY remedies.

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  • Reply Raine Saunders March 3, 2015 at 10:30 am

    This is wonderful information Renee! I shared this with a client for her Facebook page and also pinned it! Thank you for this helpful post! 🙂

    • Reply Renee Kohley March 3, 2015 at 2:24 pm

      Thank you Raine! I hope it was helpful!

  • Reply Emily @ Recipes to Nourish March 3, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    This is great! I used this a handful of times last month during my cold. Great suggestion about the Hylands homeopathic too 🙂

  • Reply Jennifer March 3, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    Keeping this in my back pocket for the next that makes its rounds at my house. I always have onions!

  • Reply Jessica @ConveyAwareness March 3, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    As a L.E.A.N. health coach and as part of my healthy aging workshops, we have a game we play, “Name the food that helps the concern.” One of the foods is the onion! Great article and your tips will be helpful for sleep deprived mommas. Pinned!

  • Reply Faith March 3, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I have heard of an onion poultice, but have not tried it yet. I will have to try it in the future.

  • Reply Krystal March 3, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    Renee here you go again exposing me to a whole new world.:) I have never heard of this until today. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Reply Megan Stevens March 3, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    Pinned this, thanks, it’s great and I didn’t know any of it. I also like how you let the kids choose the towel, so sweet and helpful.

  • Reply Andrea Fabry March 3, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    I so would have used this when my kids were young. Thanks for such a thorough tutorial.

  • Reply Jessica March 3, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    I am so glad you posted this. An easy remedy to help those poor babies while not feeling well.

  • Reply Jessica March 3, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    Oh, how I love this recipe and this method. Fantastic! I especially love your tips for success…really great ideas to get the kiddos to participate with the onion poultice.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply The Provision Room March 3, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    I’ve always made my poultice in olive oil or castor oil.

    I love your tips to actually get them to use it and not pitch a fit! 🙂

  • Reply karen March 3, 2015 at 9:20 pm

    Great tutorial! Glad I don’t have little kids anymore to warrant this but will share with those who do!

  • Reply Raine Saunders March 3, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    A lovely post Renee! I hope it helps many parents avoid using pharmaceuticals on their kids. It’s so hard to listen to children cough, especially at night. Thank you for sharing! I also pinned this. 🙂

  • Reply Sarah McLain, RN March 4, 2015 at 9:27 am

    5 stars
    Such a great article Renee!! I still have so much to learn in the ways of natural remedies, this one is going in my ever growing list of helps! I loved all your practical tips for getting kiddos to use this too 🙂 Thanks!

  • Reply Chloe @ How We Flourish March 4, 2015 at 11:44 am

    Good tips. I’ve never heard of an onion poultice, so I’ll be pinning this!

  • Reply Lori March 4, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    I’ve been using onion poultices for many years, though I use the old fashioned way of frying onions in small amount of grease. I once tried the water method and did not get as good of results. You have to be more careful when frying so you don’t burn yourself or others (I’ve made poultices for myself to clear up pleurisy and other lung ailments). My grandma healed my uncle of pneumonia when he was just an infant back in 1945 (antibiotics were not around like today), but you have to make 4 of them, placing one on chest and one on back, replacing as they cool, and reheating as they get cold. I’ve also used onion poultices for ear infections and for sinus infections and they have worked wonders, keeping us from having to go to the doctor or take medications.

    • Reply Renee Kohley March 4, 2015 at 7:33 pm

      Hi Lori! Oh I love that story! Yes this is exactly what they used to do before antibiotics! That is interesting about the frying versus steaming – I will have to try that next time to see if I notice any difference! Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply Rachel March 5, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    No kids of my own yet but will pass this along to my friends who do!

  • Reply How to Fight a Cold and WIN - Mary Vance, NC October 21, 2015 at 10:02 pm

    […] I can’t vouch, but I’ve had several people tell me that onions can ward off cold and flu and that they are nothing short of magical. Some claim the onions “absorb” the virus. I don’t know what the science says, but I’m all for folk remedies if they work.  Check out this article for how to use onion to prevent illness. This onion poultice is designed for kids. […]

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    […] Onion Poultice For Kids (Raising Generation […]

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  • Reply Mamae' Renee' June 16, 2016 at 11:31 pm

    My friend & I were just checking out stuff about color therapy we decided to lookup mustard packs & ONION PACKS. found yours thought the kid’s towels were such a GREAT IDEA ESPECIALLY SINCE MY KIDDO OF NEARLY THIRTY YEARS OLD NEEDED HOLDING YESTERDAY WHEN SHE WAS SO SICK AND THE COLOURS & fun things on th e towels to help to cheer and heal your soul. A CHEERFULY HEART DOETH GOOD LIKE A MEDICINE! Esp since I also have very active grandchildren an not far from them being old enough to be parents themselves:) thanks!

  • Reply June 27, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    It’s for my husband he has it in his chest and his mom did this for one of our boys when I was in the hospital and it worked great I never new how to make it and she is dead now. Thanks

  • Reply allison lucas August 21, 2016 at 9:26 am

    We have used “onion socks” for years for our sick kiddos. This is a new use for us. I will try it next time one of our kids get sick. Thank you for the information.

    • Reply Renee Kohley August 22, 2016 at 1:06 pm

      Oh yes! Neat! I hope you don’t have to try it out (!!) but if you happen to need to let me know what you think!

  • Reply 50 Natural Remedies for Common Cold or the Flu | Dr. Karen S. Lee October 13, 2016 at 9:01 am

    […] 7.] How To Make An Onion Poultice For Kids [Raising Generation Nourished] […]

  • Reply Maria March 23, 2017 at 9:03 am

    Beautiful. .nice to know in this time & age our grandmas remedies still hold strong. I’m a good ma now. My mama used a small onion poultices for boils with a little bit of caster oil. Yes it was a wee bit painful. But oh my extracted all d unhealthy fluid . In three days we had a healthy wounds that needed a casual dressing. Great sharing girls. My dota shared this ..she used it for my 6 year old twin grandson’s d heat of summer & chest r rampant.. Tkz & God bless you Renee

    • Reply Renee Kohley March 23, 2017 at 7:50 pm

      Love those memories Maria! Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply Maria March 23, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Sorry for d hurried note
    GRAND MA &

  • Reply Suzanne Barberree November 29, 2018 at 10:58 pm

    My grandma and mom did this for me as a child. I’m 57 and doing one for myself right now!! I hacking cough is already lessening and I’m hoping to get another round in before I fall off to sleep. Busy work day tomorrow. I really wish more people would share this. It works for all ages!!❤️❤️❤️

    • Reply Renee Kohley December 1, 2018 at 10:04 am

      Love that story Suzanne! I hope you feel better soon!

  • Reply Debbie campbell January 17, 2020 at 6:29 am

    I am a 57 year old grandma and our 5 month old has RSV. We have been tenting him with a vaporizer and suctioning him out ( nose and throat) for several days now. I read your post and at 4:30 this morning I made the onion poultice. My daughter is holding little Simon with the poultice on his chest. Coughing has subsided, he is calm and resting!!!! Thank you so much for the reminder of a time much more simple. This kind of thing was all my grand and great grand parents knew to do for most any sickness,

    • Reply Renee Kohley January 22, 2020 at 10:22 am

      Grandma’s are so priceless – thank you for sharing and I hope your little one feels better soon!

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    […] for Pneumonia in Kids – Kitchen Stewardship Garlic Poultice – A Delightful Home Onion Poultice for Kids – A Delightful Home Elderberry Calendula Cold & Flu Elixir – Herbal Academy of […]

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    […] How To Make An Onion Poultice For Chest Congestion […]

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