There’s nothing worse than seeing your baby sick. How can you help them? Well, let’s see…
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I’m going to tell you right now, I am not a doctor. I repeat: I AM NOT A DOCTOR.
If you feel there is something really wrong with your child, something serious, please consult a professional. These tools and tips are intended to soothe your baby and make them feel more comfortable. They are not intended to diagnose or treat in place of a physician.
Now let’s get started. In just a few short years I have come across a host of remedies that help my children feel more comfortable. These depend on their symptoms and age. Let’s start with the littlest of littles:
Sweet, sick babies. Nothing melts our hearts like their tiny, little whimpers. Here are some home remedies for common sick baby ailments.
A fever under 102 degrees is considered safe and healthy for a baby over 3 months old. It is a sign that their immune system is trying to fight off the infection, becoming stronger in the process.
To keep your baby comfortable, run a soft cloth under very cold water for a minute or two until it becomes very cool. Fold the cool cloth into a little rectangle and lay it across the nape of their neck. It will cool their body. The cloth will need to be cooled down again as it draws heat from your baby. Repeat process until your baby feels relief.
For fevers over 102 degrees consult a physician or give the baby an infant fever reducer.
Baby eczema is very common. Your baby needs help restoring the protective layer on their skin.
You can help them by applying a baby-safe cream like Cerave for Babies. This cream is specifically formulated for babies under 1 year old and is gentle enough to be used multiple times a day. I’ve found the cream is most effective when you apply it after a bath. Speaking of baths…
Try an oatmeal bath. My favorite brand of oat flour is Arrowhead Mills. I’ve experimented with grinding my own oats in both my VitaMix and in my food processor. I’ve found anything less than pre-ground oat flour leaves chunks in the bath that are a real pain to clean out afterwards. The finer the powder, the softer the bath. But you can grind them yourself if you prefer.
For the oat bath, start by getting some oat flour. Pour a few handfuls in a warm, shallow bath and stir until the bath feels silky. Soak your baby for 10-15 minutes if they’ll sit that long. The longest my babies would sit still was 13 minutes.
A high-quality zinc oxide diaper cream and regular diaper changes are usually enough to prevent diaper rash in babies. Sometimes food sensitivities or changes in diet can increase bowel movements, which can make the problem worse.
If your baby is suffering from persistent diaper rash, the above-mentioned oatmeal bath remedy will help. It’s most effective for rashes when used twice a day.
Be sure to change your baby’s diaper frequently so they don’t sit in pee and poop. My babies always let me know (loudly) when it was time for a change, but others are more discreet when they have a wet diaper. For diapers I use Pampers Swaddlers, which are very leak-resistant and have a little yellow strip down them which turns blue when your baby pees.
Follow up each diaper change with a slather of zinc oxide cream. I have had great success with the Honest Company’s cream, which uses organic, plant-derived ingredients that are gentle on my babies’ skin.
Teething babies are grumpy babies, more often than not. The common relief for painful gums used to come from the chemical benzocaine, the main ingredient in Orajel teething medicine. This is what I used for my oldest daughter.
Benzocaine is no longer safe to use on children. In May of 2018, the FDA warned that benzocaine can sometimes cause a rare and fatal condition called methemoglobinemia, in which oxygen levels throughout the blood drop to dangerously low levels causing suffocation.
I highly recommend the natural product Boiron Camilia, a gentle homeopathic liquid that provides targeted relief to sore teething gums. It has worked wonders for my youngest daughter who is cutting her sixth tooth as I write this post. The main ingredients are German Chamomile and Chinese Rhubarb.
Ah, poor sick toddlers. Their snotty noses. Fevers. Vomit. Tears. It just breaks your heart. Here are some helpful tricks to soothe your sick toddler.
Vomit or Upset Tummy:
Let’s start with the most unpleasant ailment first. Vomit. Yuck! Keep your child hydrated with Pedialyte powder you can put in their sippy cup. Strawberry is my oldest girls favorite.
Keep their diet simple. Usually my daughter loves spicy food, tacos, hot salsa, etc. When her tummy is sick we stick to the BRAT diet: Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast. I also feed her homemade chicken soup broth in her cup. These bland foods are easy on her tummy and tough on her cold – especially the soup!
Also known as infection of the hair follicle. Before my girl started using the potty her diapers would become very heavy at night. She got this on her bum. It was a small rash of little welts that spread and became itchy, sore and unpleasant. Some places got bad enough they actually turned purple.
After waiting for it to clear up on it’s own, my husband and I finally decided to take matters into our own hands. We switched out her overnight Pampers diapers to Pampers Baby Dry during the daytime. These have air channels built in and helped to keep her butt dry.
Twice a day I gave my daughter an antimicrobial bath, which was a tub of warm water, 2 handfuls of ground oats, 1 cup of BRAGG USDA organic apple cider vinegar, and 6 drops of Eve Hansen tea tree oil, which is fantastic. She needed to soak her butt in this bath for 20 minutes, and as you may know it’s not easy to get a toddler to sit still for 5. To keep her attention I would start the bath with her favorite books. Then, when that got boring, we’d bring out the bath toys. You can also try letting your toddler draw shaving cream pictures on the walls of the tub. Anything to get them to sit still. You know your child best. Once the redness and welts lessened I gave her this bath only once a day, before nap time.
After the bath I would rub her entire body, minus her butt, with Cerave Moisturizing Cream to help combat the drying effects of the acidic bath. Then I would proceed with the following treatments.
To help clear up the infection I put maximum-strength Cerave Hydrocortisone Cream on her rash 2x a day. This is a 1% solution. Your doctor can prescribe you a 5% solution, but with this regimen that was unnecessary.
After every diaper change I rolled on 100% tea tree oil onto the bumps. Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic and antimicrobial remedy. It is very potent. Be careful to only apply this to your toddlers bum. I would not use it on a baby.
With this intensive treatment the folliculitis went away after 2 weeks.
Occasionally I’ve had to help my oldest with bouts of constipation. Most of this advice would also work for babies.
Give them a warm bath, or have them snuggle up with a hot water bottle on their abdomen. Gentle heat can help get things moving.
Alter their diet. Cut out bananas, rice and dairy and try feeding your toddler prunes, peas and pears. If your toddler like muffins you can feed them my “Regularity Muffins”. You take your favorite plain muffin recipe (12 muffins) and substitute 1/2 of a cup of the flour for whole steel cut oats. Add an additional 1/2 cup wheat germ or wheat bran and 1/4 cup ground flaxseed to the batter. For 12 muffins, add 1 cup chopped prunes. Bake as usual.
Did you forget about you again? It’s funny how often that happens. Here you are, taking care of the entire household. Running the ship. Holding everything together. And what happens when you get sick? Maybe it all falls apart. Or maybe you’re the last one in the family to get better because moms don’t get sick days.
Whatever happens, don’t forget these self-care home remedies, just for you.
It happens to the best of us. You just get fed up. Tired. The once joyful days now seem…endless.
First, you need to do what brings you joy. I don’t mean jetting off to Ibiza (though that sounds pretty nice). What are your hobbies? If you’ve forgotten what they are, chances are you need some. I tend to two rescue orchids above my sink. Watch forensic dramas (LOVE the Mentalist) with the baby while my oldest daughter sleeps. Facetime my family and friends. Birdwatch. What brings you joy?
Next, what makes you feel fulfilled? What makes you feel full. Usually it’s being a fantastic wife and mother, but when I’m burnt out my needs are more singular. I like to work on my homeschool curriculums, or read about education. I’m teaching myself Spanish at night while everyone goes to bed so that, a year from now, I can teach my children. I work on my blog. These projects require some work but they keep my brain working, my days varied and I don’t hear the wheels in my head spinning quite so loudly when I work on them. What gives you purpose?
Finally, what makes you feel accomplished? This is a bit different than purpose or fulfillment. Accomplishment is more about checking things off of your mental to-do list. I like to clean my house. Organize my monthly shopping. Pick up all the kids toys. Cook a new meal. Bake muffins or bread for the week. These things allow me to use my creativity and planning. More than that, they give me the feeling like I’ve got my life together. I’m organized. I’m “with it”. And it feels good. What make you feel accomplished?
Finding a balance between these three areas of your life will ward against burnout. We all know, a happy mom makes a happy home.
Aches & Pains:
Ugh. If I stop throughout the day and think about how I’m actually feeling, the answer is usually sore. I am always sore. I’m 4’11” and my children are huge. My 2.5 year old is already 3’4″ tall. They still want to be cuddled like babies (because they are babies – to me anyway) and it’s murder on my joints.
Solution: Dr Teals Epsom Salt Baths. I can’t even tell you how many different varieties and scents of bath salts this company makes. I have used 8 and I’m always finding a new one when I go shopping. I love them all and I don’t have a favorite.
Epsom salts soak away aches, pains and worries. Light a candle. If you’re not nursing in the next few hours grab a brandy. Pour a cup or two of salts into your hot bath and just sit. For at least 30 minutes. Ahhhhhh….if you really want to make it a perfect night, grab your laptop and fire up your favorite forensic tv drama :).
Our family just got over a 14 day sinus infection. Predictably I was the first one to get sick and the last one to get well. I blame that on the extreme lack of sleep in my household.
For moms who are NOT nursing, take Gaia Oregano Oil capsules. It’s a powerful antibacterial and knocks out colds fast. Take 2 capsules morning and night at the first sign of illness, or whenever you suspect you might encounter someone sick. This is not safe for mothers who are nursing. Like me.
Gargle with salt water. Do lukewarm saline rinses with a Netipot, 1/2 tsp of sea salt, and 1/4 tsp baking soda 3x a day. Take hot showers. Cut out dairy to reduce inflammation.
To reduce sinus swelling use a cold compress on your face, replacing frequently until the pain subsides. New studies suggest that anti-inflammatories are pretty harmful for your heart. However if the pain is really bad you can take one Ibuprofen before bed to reduce inflammation and loosen up the junk in your head. I use it only as a very last resort.
Sleep is so hard to come by as a mom. It’s such a cruel joke of life when everyone is finally sleeping and you can’t get to bed. Here are some quick ways to help you sleep.
You can try a warm bath with some aromatic bath salts. My absolute favorite are Dresdner Essenz. They explode into this fragrant burst of color in your tub. The lavender one is heavenly, and purple.
Oatstraw tea is also a nervine tonic, which means it helps you sleep. Steep a thermos full of the whole oatstraw for 20-30 minutes and sip on it until you feel sleepy. It’s safe for nursing mothers as well.
I’ve always struggled with anxiety. It’s a mental game. It’s important to take care of your mental health.
I’ve found it helps to get around people when I’m anxious. I can call my friends and chat with them but it’s much more effective to invite a friend over for coffee and just talk to them about what I’m going through.
Talk to your partner as well. Connection soothes the anxious mind. I strongly encourage you, when you feel anxious, to examine how long it’s been since you slept with your partner. If you can’t remember turn on your kids’ favorite tv show and go get busy with your hubby.
If you can, try to sleep. It’s really hard to carve out time to nap during the day. I personally can’t nap when it’s bright out. If you are one of those lucky people who can, see if your husband can watch the kids for an hour while you rest. You will feel much better.
Take care of yourself.