How to soothe kids’ sore tonsils

A little girl is being examined by a doctor.

Swollen and sore tonsils can be very uncomfortable for children, affecting their energy levels, appetite and mood. It is hard to swallow most foods when the tonsils are tender and enlarged, and it can be very worrying as a parent when your child goes off their food whilst they’re unwell. Here are some suggestions to soothe painful tonsils as well as some tips to keep your child well-nourished whilst their tonsils are sore and inflamed.

Get our lovely Healthy Bites newsletter each week!

Each week, you’ll get an amazing recipe, a useful health tip, and an ingredient to jazz up your shopping basket! We don’t share your details with anyone else.

Understanding tonsils

Tonsils are two pillow-like tissue masses located at the back of the throat, with the dangly uvula hanging in between. They serve as a filter, preventing germs from entering the airways. Tonsils also produce antibodies to fight infections, making them a key part of the immune system. Alongside the adenoids, they form part of the lymphatic system, responsible for clearing infections and maintaining fluid balance in the body.

Causes of sore and swollen tonsils

Sometimes, tonsils can become infected by viruses like colds and flu and other times bacterial infections such as group A streptococcus bacteria, which is associated with strep throat and scarlet fever. Sometimes they can be chronically inflamed if the child is run down or has food or environmental allergies. In severe infections ulcers on the tonsils or even tonsil stones can develop which can be deeply painful.

Six tips to soothe troublesome tonsils

Here are some food tips, that you should be able to easily find in your kitchen to help dial down the pain and some nutrient-dense food ideas to help keep your child nourished whilst they have swollen tonsils.

  1. Gargle with warm salty water. Dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water. Gargling several times a day with warm salt water helps draw out moisture from mouth tissues while creating a salty barrier that prevents water and pathogens from re-entering. Ensure that your child is old enough to gargle and spit out easily before attempting this method.
  2. Use Jarrah honey. With its toffee flavour and potent antimicrobial properties, Jarrah honey  can help to soothe inflamed tonsils. It also tastes delicious and most little kids in distress will accept a teaspoon of honey. Honey is suitable for children over 12 months.
  3. Switch to easy to swallow foods. Swollen tonsils can make swallowing certain foods difficult, particularly large chunks of meat and raw veg. As a result, children with tonsil issues often prefer soft, easy-to-swallow foods such as pasta, bananas, soups, stews, smoothies, ice cream and yoghurts.
  4. Enjoy cold treats. Ice lollies, ice cream and sorbet can provide relief by lowering the temperature of the throat’s nerve endings, numbing the area and reducing pain signals. Consider trying therapeutic Chamomile and Apple Ice Lollies. This recipe is suitable for all ages, starting from 6 months.
  5. Eat the rainbow. Children recovering from tonsil infections or experiencing inflamed tonsils should consume a variety of brightly coloured polyphenol-rich foods. Berries, dark green vegetables, cacao and fruits are excellent choices. Smoothies, smoothie bowls, freshly squeezed juices and ice lollies offer an easy to swallow way to incorporate these nutrient-rich foods into your child’s diet.
  6. Increase mineral-rich foods. Some studies suggest that children with recurrent throat and tonsil infections may have low levels of essential minerals like selenium, iron, and zinc. Include foods such as nuts, seeds, red meat, liver, seafood, fish, dairy products, eggs, pulses  and dark green vegetables to help boost these mineral levels whilst they are recuperating.

Round Up

Infected or inflamed tonsils can be painful and distressing for little ones. However, there are lots of easy wins you can do to support their nutrition when an infection strikes to keep them strong and resilient. Do check out my other blogs which give more in-depth information on how so support immunity when tonsils are swollen and infected.

Lucinda Recommends

We know many people want to know what products we recommend but unfortunately for regulatory reasons, recommendations have to be private. However all is not lost, you can join NatureDoc Live! for monthly Zoom Q&As with Lucinda, as well as a forum for asking questions, and access to recommendations in our blogs which appear when you log in.



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.