Hello, Risa’s friends! My name is Henna and I’m a working mom of two. I used to blog over at No Smoke Without Pryor (which is still up and readable through the archives), but with my hands pretty full with a nearly 4-year-old girl and an 18-month-old boy, you can find me over on Instagram instead these days.
While Risa enjoys her early weeks with that beautiful, chubby-cheeked Isla Bee, I am so happy to dust off the old “blogging fingers” and write this guest post for her.
Given the time of year, I thought it would be useful to share some of my favorite tips on natural health and wellness for small children. In a time when conventional medication is so easily over-prescribed and natural remedies are often overlooked, I often find myself seeking out better solutions to minor ailments in my kids. Below is a short compilation of some of my favorites over the years – some came from my doctor, many came from friends, and some came from good old-fashioned internet scouring. (What did new moms do before the internet? I shudder at the thought.)
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. If your child is really sick or in pain, please see a doctor and feel free to check with your pediatrician before trying any of these. (I cleared all of the below with my own pediatrician.) The below recommendations come entirely from my own personal experience with them in my household.
Elderberry Syrup for Prevention/Treating a Cold:
This is one of my favorites and my friends are probably sick of hearing about it. Elderberry is amazingly effective for natural cold and flu prevention. We used to buy this syrup from Amazon, but a teaspoon per day, per child (and more when a cold actually struck) started to add up, so a friend of mine sent me the recipe to make my own (recipe available here from The Wellness Mama) and we love it even more!
In the winter months, when germs and sickness are at their worst, the children each receive 1 tsp per day for prevention. (My husband and I take 1 tbsp per day for prevention.) When a cold strikes, you can increase the frequency to every 2-3 hours or so to help eliminate the cold quickly. It’s sometimes impossible to avoid getting sick all together, especially with little ones in day care, but I am 100 percent convinced this helps to rid us all of colds so much more quickly when they do arise. (And in many cases, we’ve warded them off completely!) I prefer the homemade syrup for several reasons: 1) It’s extremely cost-effective (one bag of dried elderberries will make me 8-10 large bottles of syrup), and 2) the addition of raw honey and ginger provide an extra cold-fighting punch.
Note: Since the homemade version does contain honey, it should not be used for babies under 1.
Garlic Oil for Ear Infections:
If you have a little one who is prone to ear infections, please do some research on garlic oil. A quick recipe is here at Livin In the Green’s website. Garlic is an extremely powerful natural antibiotic and a very simple infusion of garlic in olive oil has cured my ear-infection prone son of NUMEROUS ear infections without the use of antibiotics.
My quick version: Take a fresh clove of garlic, mince it up with a knife. Set in a small glass bowl, cover with 1-2 tbsp of olive oil (until just covered), warm up in the microwave for 30 seconds. Let cool down to warm (or room temperature), put 2-3 drops into the infected ear. Do this morning and night for 2 days. In almost all cases, the infection is cleared! You can do an extra 3rd day if needed, but after the 3rd day, I’d toss the oil and make a new batch. (And definitely refrigerate between uses – you can reheat for 10 seconds to use again, but please test to the touch … no hot oil in baby ears!) The slightly warmed oil is also very soothing if the child’s ear is inflamed or in pain.
This has worked so well for us that my pediatrician has even started to recommend it to patients.
Onion Syrup for Cough and Congestion:
This is a recent discovery and I just can’t believe how well it works. A quick tutorial can be found here at Vintage Amanda’s website. There are a few different methods on how to do this, but here is my preferred version:
Take one red onion (this imparts the mildest flavor) – slice it into rings. Between each layer, add some sugar (I use Raw Turbinado Cane Sugar from Trader Joe’s) and essentially “reconstruct” the onion. I just put mine in a large Pyrex bowl since I don’t have a small one like the one pictured. Put the lid back on, leave it alone for 6-8 hours. When you come back, there will be a syrup on the bottom! I remove the onion and pour the syrup into a smaller, lidded container to keep in the fridge. Take this syrup every 15-20 minute for the first hour for a bad cough, and then every few hours thereafter. (Since there is no honey in this, I would assume this is safe for children under 1, but please feel free to check with your doc.)
Laila and I both had congested coughs last week, and it was amazing how quickly this cleared it up in both of us. It does have a bit of an onion-y taste, but the sugar makes it so that it does not taste bad … kind of like a caramelized onion. My daughter takes it without too much fuss, so that should be evidence enough that it’s pretty good. :)
In addition to the above, we also rely on some more commonly known favorites such as Vicks VapoRub or a similar blend of essential oils on the chest and feet (always the feet!) for stuffy nose and congestion, and humidifiers for a dry cough (only if they are kept clean – I recommend smaller humidifiers for this reason).
The above remedies are not only natural, but extremely inexpensive as compared to their bottled counterparts. Every traditional antibiotic or pharmaceutical medicine comes with SOME sort of side effect, so while they are absolutely necessary for certain illnesses, I was so happy to discover alternatives for others.
It’s hard as a parent to watch your child suffer through a cold or illness, but there are safe, natural remedies we can use to ease their symptoms and encourage faster recovery. Do you have any favorites? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!
Congrats again, Risa! Hope you don’t have to use any of the above for a good, long while.