No one likes to see their baby sick or in pain, and it can really be overwhelming for parents when something is wrong with their child. We get loads of "how-to-fix-the-ailment" advice - some good, some bad, from well-meaning family members and friends, and other advice from pediatricians who may not be as natural-minded as we prefer. So, we've broken down the five most common baby ailments, and put together our favorite, tried-and-true natural remedies that really work. And, they work without creepy chemicals or toxins - just as nature intended!
Teething pain can be the worst - for baby and parents. The most common medicinal treatments contain acetaminophen or ibuprofen, but most formulations contain some unnatural ingredients, and leave parents questioning exactly what it is that they are putting into their baby's body. Of course, that's not to say that these should be avoided at all costs, but if there are natural remedies available that help cut down on the number of times an actual medication is needed, of course that's the best possible solution!
- Baltic Amber Teething Necklaces: Baltic amber teething necklaces are adorable AND effective for helping your baby with teething pain. Baltic amber has a natural healing property – it’s a live resin that contains succinic acid, a natural anti-inflammatory analgesic that is activated by the warmth of your baby’s skin. It may surprise you to find out that your baby doesn’t actually chew on the necklace for it to work – the amber simply must rest on your baby’s skin, and the pain-relieving analgesic is released! You can read our top 3 tips for Baltic amber teething necklaces here. We love this Baltic amber teething necklace made by Knickernappies.
- Boiron's Camilia Teething Drops: Boiron is a leading producer of homeopathic remedies, and their Camilia teething drops are a great natural teething remedy for your little one. The active ingredients are plant-based, and include German chamomile (relieves teething pain & associated irritability), Poke plant (relieves painful gums), and Rhubarb plant (relieves minor digestive issues that are linked with teething). These ingredients are included in Camilia flavorless liquid drops, and the drops come in pre-measured, tiny tubes that are squirted into your baby’s mouth for fast relief.
- Mesh Teething Feeder: Any mesh feeder can be used as a teething remedy! Throw in ice cubes, frozen breast milk cubes, or frozen organic fruits and vegetables, and let your little one gnaw away. Test out a variety of foods to find out which ones your baby loves!
Cradle Cap/Eczema/Dry Skin
If your baby has cradle cap, eczema, dry skin, or some other type of skin ailment, your pediatrician will likely recommend using petroleum jelly or baby oil. But did you know that both of these products are petroleum byproducts? Yes, petroleum, as in, where your car’s gasoline comes from. Petroleum jelly & baby oil may be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are known carcinogens. These oils also cause skin to age prematurely, and have been linked to hormonal disruptions and immune system damage.
That is precisely why we recommend the following safer, natural remedies:
- Natural Oils: Many natural, plant-based oils can work wonders on your baby’s skin problems. Try massaging coconut, olive, almond, or grapeseed oil onto the affected area. If there are excess flakes, such as with cradle cap, you can gently scrape them away after the oil sets in. The oils will help loosen the flakes so that they are easily removed, as well as moisturize your baby’s skin.
- Calendula: Calendula is a plant that has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, both of which will help ease your child’s skin concerns. We love California Baby's calendula cream – it contains the healing properties of calendula, in an easy-to-apply, moisturizing cream.
- Vinegar Blend: Blend one part apple cider vinegar with two parts water, and gently massage it onto your baby’s problem areas, prior to bathtime. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, then rinse off in the bath.
The vinegar will help prevent buildup of dead skin, which is what makes up the flakes/scales that cause itchiness and inflammation.
There is nothing worse than a raging case of diaper rash to get a baby upset, and a mom concerned. You want nothing more than for that sweet bum to be back to normal, and it can seem like an insurmountable task. Luckily, there are a few simple things you can try:
- Air it out: Let your baby have some diaper free time to air out the area. Moisture is his bottom's worst enemy when it comes to rashes, so some dry-out time can really make a difference. To protect your floors in case of an accident, lay out some towels on their own, or place a puppy pee pad underneath the towel for extra absorbency! It sounds crazy, but it works like a charm!
- Natural diapers: If you don't use cloth diapers already, consider switching, especially if your baby is prone to diaper rashes. Cloth diapers are much more gentle on your baby's skin, and will really help your baby's bum start to heal, as well as cut back the number of rashes your baby gets. If cloth isn't your thing, try more natural disposable diapers such as Seventh Generation or Earth's Best, which are gentle and perfect for even the most sensitive-skinned babies.
- Cloth wipes: Cloth wipes can even be intimidating to the most natural-minded of mamas, but they are actually pretty simple to use - and as a bonus, they are will save you a lot of money over the course of your baby's diapered years. With cloth wipes, you create the solution that you soak the wipes in. By selecting natural, healing ingredients, such as olive oil, tea tree oil, vinegar, and aloe vera, you can ensure that your baby is getting cleaned with the most gentle of products, and with ingredients that help heal.
If your little one is suffering from nausea, diarrhea, and/or vomiting, the very most important concern is staying hydrated. A typical recommendation is to try Pedialyte. Unfortunately, Pedialyte is filled with artificial sweeteners such as sucralose (Splenda) and Acesulfame Potassium (chemically similar to saccharin), as well as artificial flavorings & colorings. Aside from that, it's an expensive remedy - we have some great natural remedies that are much more affordable!
- Coconut Water: Coconut water is the easiest, natural way to help your dehydrated child. Full of fluid-balancing potassium and sodium, it’s nature’s solution for sick tummies. Coconut water is low in sugar, and high in electrolytes, which is the perfect recipe for your sick child. It has the power to rehydrate better than sports drinks or water, and with a slightly sweet, mild taste that even the sickest child may enjoy. Many companies are now adding various natural fruit flavorings to coconut water, which make it even tastier!
- Simple & Sweet
4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (helps neutralize stomach acid and soothe upset tummies
3 tablespoons agave syrup/sugar/honey (use honey only if your child is over age 1)
1/2 teaspoon salt
optional: natural drink mix, to taste (check Whole Foods or natural section of your supermarket)
Mix all ingredients together and enjoy! Lasts in refrigerator up to 3 days.
2 quarts water
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 tablespoons agave syrup/sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup orange juice
Mix all ingredients together and enjoy! Lasts in refrigerator up to 3 days.
Coughs & Colds
Colds, coughs, and runny noses can plague little ones in the winter months, and all year long. Since over-the-counter cough/cold medication is not approved for babies and toddlers, there really is no choice but to try some natural remedies to offer your sick babe some relief.
- Nosefrida: The Nosefrida is a remarkable and incredibly effective invention. If you're not familiar with the Nosefrida, understand that it has a bit of an "ick factor," but it works so well that you won't care! This nasal aspirator is made up of a long tube and a filter. You place one end of the tube in your child's nostril, and you actually suck on the other end of the tube to pull the mucus out. But, never fear! The filter prevents any of the mucus from reaching your end of the tube.
- Steam: Steam can work miracles with a sick child. Breathing in moisture-filled air helps loosen mucus in your baby's airways, and helps them breathe easier. Try running a hot shower, and bring your child into the bathroom so he/she can take advantage of the steamy room. Also, consider running a humidifier in your child's room to help increase moisture in the air.
- Neti pot: Neti pots are fantastic at flushing out nasal passages. If you've never tried one before, you simply create a warm water saline solution, fill the pot, and carefully - over a sink or bowl - tilt your head and place the spout of the pot in one nostril. Slowly tip the pot so the water starts flowing in your nose - and surprise! The water comes out of your other nostril! This washes all the gunk out of the nasal passages to reduce inflammation, buildup, and sinus infections. And, it just feels refreshing! You may get some resistance from your toddler, but let him/her inspect the pot, show him/her how it's used on yourself, and get them comfortable with it. *Note that this method should only be used with doctor's recommendation, typically over age 4.
- Extra fluids: As with tummy troubles, it is of utmost importance to keep your sick little one well-hydrated. If your child is breastfeeding, that is all the fluids they need - no need to supplement with water or juice - and as a bonus, the breastmilk will contain powerful healing antibodies that will help your baby feel better faster. Add in a few extra nursing sessions per day, and that will help greatly. If your baby is over 6 months old, you can begin encouraging other additional fluids, such as water.
For more tips to keep your child healthy, check out our NURTURE section!
Photo credit: Cookies For Breakfast, Little Miss Eclectic Photography