In a society where we are hard-wired to reach for the medicine cabinet the minute we feel sick, it’s not often first nature to reach for your backyard garden instead. In fact, it takes some getting used to… especially at 5 a.m. when your baby is screaming and feverish! I will admit that I was somewhat unprepared for Liam’s first cold. He had a really bad runny nose and a slight fever and boy was he miserable. As a mother, you feel helpless. You know that they are hurting, and the first thing you want to do is ease their pain. This is what makes reaching for the Motrin so incredibly tempting. Its a quick fix and it “works”. I say works in parentheses because cold medicines and pain relievers don’t ever cure the problem, they simply mask it. As adults in this busier than ever world, some of us need a quick fix. However, I feel that a little baby with a slight fever needs to let his body fight the infection in order to work up a healthy immune system. Don’t get me wrong, pain relievers are sometimes necessary for certain situations, especially if his fever had reached dangerous levels, but they shouldn’t be something you simply give to your child the minute he coughs or sneezes. There are other, safer ways of dealing with a cold. With all of that said, fevers are scary. Being unprepared for what to do, and not knowing anything about fevers, even I ran to the store for a quick fix. However, by the time I got back, Liam was sleeping peacefully on his daddies tummy and my concerns diminished. SInce I had a little while to calm down (the whole ordeal was a little nervewracking), I turned to Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child, a wonderful book about coventional, homeopathic, and alternative medicine, and read about my options. Even though I ended up making the decision to not rely on Motrin, here are a few things I wish I knew before I ran to the drug stroe at 2 a.m. :
- Fevers scare moms more than they should. In most cases, a fever is the body’s reaction to an acute viral or bacterial infection. It is not necessarily a dangerous condition. Since viruses and bacteria do not survive well in elevated body temperatures, a fever is actually an ALLY in fighting infection. It is one of the ways in which the body defends and heals itself. In a child, the level of the fever does not necessarily reflect the severity of the illness. A child can be very sick with a low fever, or a slight cold and a very high fever. When assessing your child’s condition, it is better to observe how they are ACTING, not how high their fever is. Unless a child’s temperature is well over 102, there is generally no need for medication. Gently and naturally bringing your childs temp down can not only help your child feel better, but also prevent further complications.
- As soon as your child starts to feel or look sick, get him to drink some echinacea tea! If you are breastfeeding, you can start drinking it. Echinacea and goldenseal tea is even better. The immune-boosting effects of these herbs have been well documented and could help you avoid a nasty cold. If the fever is already noticable, you can give your child a fever reducing tea made of all or some of the following: sage, licorice root, lemon balm, chamomille, elder flower, and peppermint leaf. If you don’t have all of that stuff, try a simple ginger tea.
- Wrapping the calves in socks soaked in lemon juice can also help bring down a fever. Heat a cup of water with the juice of one lemon, soak the socks in it, wring them out and put them on under a pair or dry socks. Bundle up and leave on for 20 minutes.
- Garlic has antibacterial properties and helps detoxify the body. Not so easy to use with infants, but you can get an older child to swallow a clove or an odorless capsule.
As for the runny nose, since it wasnt so “scary”, I had a little bit of time to figure out what to do. Here are some things that seemed to work:
- Shower Steams: Run really hot water in a shower and just sit in the bathroom with your baby for 15-20 minutes. This worked really well before bed time. Even better, I had some lavender and eucalyptus growing outside, so I cut some down, filled a sock and threw it in the hot water. The aromatherapy effects helped clear both his and my sinuses. If you dont have the fresh herbs, you can always use some essential oils in the tub.
- Beta Carotene: Cartenoids are a group of substances that help mucous membranes to heal. The best known is beta carotene. SInce I couldn’t give it to Liam, I took a bunch of it hoping that he would get some!
- Vitamin C: This helps all around for any kind of cold. Like the echinacea, as soon as you start feeling sick, pump up on some Vitamin C. It has anti-inflammatory properties and helps to ease the course of a cold. Choose ones without sugar if you pick the chewable ones!
- Lavendar and Eucalyptus Oils: I diluted one drop of lavender in a TB of olive oil and rubbed it on his chest and back. For me, I used Eucalyptus. I am not sure if Euc. can be used on infants. Some sorces said no way and others said extremely diluted, so I just stayed away from using it on him.
Above all, make sure you rest!! Hope everyone stays healyth and doesn’t have to worry about any of this!