Cold and flu season is quickly approaching. Those of us with young children, babies or elders in our lives often worry about illnesses. When I first had my children, I had learned about natural remedies and later went on to study herbology at a Naturopathic school. I found that my children reacted much better to sometimes necessary drugs, such as antibiotics, when they were not overused. Of course, I was careful about not exposing them to many harmful germs passed on by other kids, but once my daughter started school, all bets were off.
Today, we read a lot about the advantages of exposing our kids to germs by not using lots of disinfectants or antibacterial soap. A dirty house sometimes equals a robust immune system. I must admit that my house was not always spotless, and my children seem to have a superhuman immune system. They rarely get sick and when they do, they recover in record time. Honestly, I don’t know if that’s due to genetics, exposure to household germs or to the measures I took with herbs to protect them. I’m sure there is no way to measure that, but whatever it was, it worked.
When my children were babies, I often rubbed the bottom of their feet with garlic, then put warm socks on them. Within an hour, I could smell the garlic on their breath. I put a tiny amount on one spot first to be sure they wouldn’t have an adverse reaction. I did this during cold and flu season to ward off the illnesses but also did it once they contracted something. Garlic is a wonder drug that works especially well for colds but is too harsh to give to babies. However, their skin absorbs the essential oils in the garlic and distributes it throughout their bodies.
Another herb that is safe for children and babies is chamomile. This is used as a mild sedative and used for teething babies, though if your child has an allergy to ragweed, they might have an adverse reaction to this herb. We often give catnip to our cats, but it also used for children’s low-grade fevers and to treat colic. Fennel and dill seeds are also good to treat colic or gas. My favorite herb for babies is calendula. I grow my own and make a salve for treating any skin irritations including diaper rash, cradle cap and eczema. I mostly use my calendula salve for cuts, scrapes and dry skin in the winter.
All these herbs can be bought as essential oils, but I don’t recommend using oils for children under age 2. For these young children, except for garlic, I recommend putting the fresh or dried herbs into a bath. You can also give them tea to drink but remember not to put honey in it for babies under 1 year, and I recommend letting them get accustomed to the taste of the herb itself rather than masking it with a sweetener. They have a peasant taste already, and it’s good to help your children develop a more sophisticated palate.
Here is a great link to simple home remedies for babies: https://www.mom365.com/baby/baby-health/home-remedies
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