Getting familiar with natural remedies while your baby is well can help you both avoid unnecessary medications and antibiotics.
They can also prevent you from feeling helpless when your baby needs you the most.
You may have already experienced the heartache that comes with seeing your baby cry in discomfort.
If possible stock up your natural medicine cabinet before your child gets ill.
Here are some natural baby remedies you'll want to be prepared to treat.
- Try massaging the baby's gums with your clean fingers first. You may have to pry your way in, but she may relax once she figures out what's going on.
- A cold teether is also soothing. Remember that plastic teethers contain toxic chemicals unless noted on the packaging.
- Try a natural baby teething toy made from organic cotton. A washcloth made from organic fibers will also do the trick.
- Traditional teething gels carry the risk of allergic reaction, decreased gag reflex. Also the numbing effect doesn't last very long. Check out some homeopathic teething solutions listed in our Natural Teething Guide.
- No baby is the same when it comes to colic.
The cause of colic is unknown, but colic is associated with a fussy temperament and an underdeveloped or immature nervous system.
- Swaddling, music and white noise are all ways you can soothe your baby with throughout the day.
- Some babies find motion calming. This includes rocking and can involve drives around the neighborhood.
- Other parents swear by a bath and massage using a few drops of lavender oil.
- You may also need to try a different infant formula or removing suspect foods from your breastfeeding diet. Dairy, chocolate, gassy veggies and citrus fruits should be taken out a week at a time to identify the culprit.
- You can also try Gripe Water, a solution of ginger, fennel and other natural ingredients. Wellements Organic Gripe Water is made with certified organic ingredients, but also has non-organic ingredients. Again the results vary for each baby.
- A fever is not actually an illness, but a sign your baby is fighting a viral or bacterial infection. They don't usually require medical care so here are a few natural baby remedies to try.
- Bathe your baby in lukewarm, not cold, water - and don't use rubbing alcohol.
- Dress your baby in lightweight clothing to allow body heat to escape from the skin.
- Give your baby plenty of fluids. Breast milk, formula are best. If your baby is used to drinking water add more of that to the regimen. Babies 9 months and older can have vegetable and chicken broths with a touch of water.
- If your baby is 6 months or older you may be able to use garlic, lemon balm leaf and other herbal remedies to treat the fever. If you are breastfeeding you may be advised to take the herbs and pass them on to your baby.
- Homeopathic remedies are specific to the person and the condition. So make an appointment with a practitioner if the natural baby remedies don't work.
- Vincent Ianelli, M.D. says the point at which you should notify a health care practitioner depends on the age of the baby.
-less than 3 months old - 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (F) or 38.1 degrees Celsius (C)
-3 to 6 months old - 101 degrees (F) or 38.3 degrees (C)
-6 to 12 months old - 103 degrees (F) 39.4 degrees (C)
-12 months and older - 103 degrees (F) 39.4 degrees (C) and the fever doesn't respond to home remedies
- Other red flags include seizure, fevers lasting more than 72 hours, confusion, stiff neck, persistent vomiting and diarrhea, difficult to awaken.
- Alan Greene, M.D., author of Raising Baby Green: The Earth-Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Care, says that out of 10 million antibiotic prescriptions given in a year's time between 8.5 and 9.5 million didn't actually help the child. He also says that each use of antibiotics makes the next case harder to treat.
- He advises use of antibiotics only if an acute ear infection (red, hot, swollen, painful eardrum) is present.
- In contrast if the ear infection is a garden-variety ear infection (germ-filled fluid in the middle ear) it is best to observe the infection and avoid the antibiotics and the side-effects (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, skin rashes).
- In either case soothe your baby's pain. A few drops of warm olive oil can help. If that doesn't work, he advises ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
- Contact a practitioner, such as a Naturopathic Physician, to learn about alternative herbal and homeopathic treatments.
- Drugs are generally not necessary for diarrhea as they tend to interrupt the body's need to cleanse itself of a virus.
- Fluids are essential when your baby has diarrhea. Giving your baby more breast milk and formula work fine for younger babies.
- A child who has started solids can have water and vegetable or chicken stock. Bananas are a binding food, so if your baby has already been introduced to them, you may try that too.
Otherwise pediatricians recommend sticking to the child's normal diet during a bout with diarrhea, as most cases are managed by adding fluids.
- Over the counter solutions such as Pedialyte do not make diarrhea go away, they prevent your child from becoming dehydrated. If the poop is watery and you sense that she is losing a lot of fluid you should opt for a fluid that doesn't contain a lot of sugar.
- If you want to prepare in advance for a case of diarrhea, ask your practitioner about herbal and homeopathic remedies for diarrhea.
- Call the doctor if your baby has a fever, is inconsolable or has blood in his poop.
The Green and Global Perspective
on Natural Baby Remedies
Using natural baby remedies also has benefits to the environment. Studies have shown that chemicals put into our bodies go into the waste and sewage system and impact our eco-system.
Additionally, a great deal of pollutants is involved in the manufacturing and distribution of pharmaceutical drugs.
If you are still using a mercury thermometer, you should replace it with a digital one. Contact a waste management company to find out the best way to dispose of it. Mercury in a landfill is an environmental hazard.