Using Vicks When Breastfeeding: What’s Safe, What’s Not

| Reviewed By Sarah Schulze, MSN, APRN, CPNP

When you are sick, it can be challenging to breastfeed while trying to figure out the best treatment options that are safe for both you and your baby.

Can you use Vicks while breastfeeding? It depends. You may be able to use Vicks when breastfeeding, but just make sure not to get any on or near your baby. It’s best to wash your breasts before breastfeeding to avoid your baby ingesting Vicks. There are other safe remedies for the cold and flu you can take instead of Vicks.

Read on to learn more about what’s safe to take when you have the flu.

Taking Vicks While Breastfeeding – What To Know

Before taking Vicks while breastfeeding, check out this information about some of Vicks’ most popular products.

Can I Use Vicks Vaporub While Breastfeeding?

No, you cannot use Vicks Vaporub while breastfeeding because the active ingredients aren’t safe for babies.

You may be able to use it between feeding sessions, but you should avoid putting it near your breasts to prevent ingestion. Opt for safer, healthier options for treating respiratory illnesses.

Can I Use Vicks Nasal Spray While Breastfeeding?

Yes, you can use Vicks nasal spray while breastfeeding. This Vicks product is safer than the Vaporub because it doesn’t get absorbed into your body.

Instead of putting it on your skin, you put the product into your nostrils and spray, releasing the congestion in your sinuses.

Can I Take Vicks DayQuil/NyQuil While Breastfeeding?

No, you can’t take Vicks DayQuil or NyQuil while breastfeeding, especially if you struggle with low supply. These products cause a drop in breast milk supply, making it challenging to feed your baby.

Nyquil can also cause drowsiness in the mother and the baby when the baby ingests it through breast milk.

Can I Take Vicks VapoCOOL Caplets While Breastfeeding?

Yes, you can take Vicks VapoCOOL Caplets while breastfeeding as long as you use the recommended dose. Vicks VapoCOOL Caplets pose a low risk to the baby while breastfeeding.

However, the active ingredients in this product may be harmful to the baby when the mother consumes it in large doses.

Can I Take Vicks Cold and Flu While Breastfeeding?

Talk to your provider about the risks versus benefits of using Vicks Cold and Flu while breastfeeding.

There is limited data about a baby’s exposure to the active ingredients, phenylephrine, acetaminophen, and dextromethorphan, through breast milk.

These ingredients are generally safe in small doses or for short-term use, but ask your doctor about your individual scenario.

Can I Use Vicks VapoInhaler While Breastfeeding?

Yes, you can use Vicks VapoInhaler while breastfeeding, but it’s better to use a saline nasal spray to best protect your baby from the active ingredients in Vicks VapoInhaler.

Only use Vicks VapoInhaler according to the recommended dose, and reach out to your doctor if you have any concerns.

What Can I Take for a Cold When Breastfeeding?

Here are some safe options for you to take for a cold when breastfeeding:

  • Tylenol (acetaminophen): Pain reliever and fever reducer
  • Afrin (Oxymetazoline): Decongestant
  • Motrin, Advil (ibuprofen): Pain reliever and fever reducer
  • Mucinex (guaifenesin): Expectorant that loosens congestion
  • Claritin (loratadine): Antihistamine that helps with allergy symptoms. There is limited data, but long-term use may affect milk supply
  • Zyrtec (cetirizine): Antihistamine that helps reduce allergy symptoms. There is limited data, but long-term use may affect milk supply

What Not To Take When Breastfeeding

When breastfeeding, watch out for these ingredients and cold medicine products:

  • Alcohol: Found in many cold relief products
  • Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed): Nasal decongestant that can lower your breast milk supply
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl): Antihistamine that can be transferred to your baby through breast milk

Home Remedies for Cold During Breastfeeding

If you’d rather play it safe and use home remedies for a cold during breastfeeding, you can follow these tips:

  • Sip on warm liquids: Loosen congestion and soothe a scratchy throat by sipping tea or chicken broth.
  • Ingest lemon and honey: Ease your sore throat with lemon and honey mixed into your tea. Studies show honey is more effective at managing cough than over-the-counter cough suppressants. 
  • Gargle with salt water: You can help ease a sore throat by gargling with salt water.
  • Use saline-only nasal sprays: Clear your stuffy nose with saline nasal sprays. Avoid products with any other active ingredients besides saline.
  • Run a humidifier: Put a humidifier in your bedroom, and run it at night to reduce soreness in your throat and nose.
  • Go in the shower: Take a hot, steamy shower to clear your airways and relieve a sore throat.
  • Live a healthy lifestyle: Prevent colds in general by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising often.

Related Questions:

Can a Baby Catch a Cold From Breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding can help a baby get over a cold more quickly. When a baby catches a cold, the nursing mother produces antibodies against the cold in her breast milk.

The breast milk you make also has qualities that kill pathogens in the baby’s body before the baby gets sick.

Can I Breastfeed if I Have the Flu?

Yes, you can breastfeed if you have the flu. Breastfeeding is still safe for your baby, and it provides nutritional benefits that can help prevent them from getting sick.

Protect your baby from illness by washing your hands often and sneezing and blowing your nose into a tissue.


Having a cold or the flu while breastfeeding isn’t fun, but it’s manageable with some home tips.

Even though Vicks products are generally safe to use while breastfeeding, it’s best to avoid them to prevent exposing the active ingredients to your baby.