I want to start this post by saying that having a sick kid can be a very scary thing. We think it is the worst! It is exhausting and sad to see your child not at full health.
It makes it even harder when you feel judgement from others on how to parent your sick child. Every time Rooney has been sick, I have felt judgement by the questions people ask and the suggestions they make over and over. I don't understand this. Maybe they are just trying to be helpful but it has been hard for me to not take it personally. Each kid deals with sickness differently and I am certainly still learning how Rooney deals with it but I think my maternal instinct should count for something! The last time Rooney was sick I totally lost my cool over it to Eric.
That said, this post may not be for you. If you are curious about what natural remedies are available, keep reading. If you choose to schedule a doctor's appointment the moment your child has a fever and that's working for your family, great! I bet you know your child better than I know your child. Maybe that is best for your peace of mind. I will not question you on this. I will not hound you to choose a different way. Because moms are the smartest and they know what's best!
Some parents stay home with their kids, making it easier to avoid antibiotics and vaccines if they want. Working parents can certainly have a harder time because there are usually a limited number of sick days they can take and daycares have rules about being symptom-free for 24 hours before coming back and vaccination forms that need to be signed. Sometimes working parents want their child to get on antibiotics as soon as possible so they can get back to work. I am lucky in that I can work from home a little if needed, which helps us out a ton since this stuff is really important to us.
Rooney has never been on an antibiotic, but she has been vaccinated. Well, I guess I had penicillin during labor for group B strep so technically she did have antibiotics on her first day of life. I think there are times when antibiotics are necessary, but in general they are scary to me. Antibiotics kill bacteria (good and bad) so you are actually more susceptible to the same illness in the coming weeks because your defenses are down. I'm not a biologist but it's got something to do with wiping out your gut flora. (If Rooney has an antibiotic someday, I will try to counteract with probiotics.)
I do feel the need for one more disclaimer: This is all very new to me. I never thought I'd be this "crunchy." It all started back when Rooney was diagnosed with torticolis at 2 months...that was my tipping point. I have learned so much since then about natural living. Some of these things we do are more granola than others. Most sounded weird to us at first, but as we have done them and seen them work, we are more comfortable with them. I hope that if you are thinking about homeopathics that this will give you confidence to give it a try!
Our Favorite Natural and Homeopathic Remedies
- Most kids get seven fevers a year! Roo had three or four in her first year, so I feel lucky that overall (especially since we didn't breastfeed very long) she is a healthy kid. I've seen Roo's fever get as high as 104.6°. When she had her first fever at 8 months, I called the My Nurse hotline because I was clueless on what to do and they said that the way the child is acting is more important than the number on the thermometer and to wait 72 hours to see if the fever will go away on its own before bringing the child in to be seen.
- When Rooney has a fever I try to remind myself over and over that fevers are good! Her body is doing what it's supposed to do and it's completely natural!
- Chiropractic adjustments: We believe that our bodies are the best pharmacies available and if we are aligned properly that our body can heal itself in many instances. All three of us visit the chiropractor weekly, and we schedule additional adjustments if we are feeling sick. Last time Roo had a fever my first call was to the chiropractor. A simple adjustment can also immediately heal an ear infection (more on ear infections below). If you live in Des Moines and are looking for a chiropractor, we'd love to suggest Dr. Tyler Molstre at True Life Wellness. We've all been seeing him for a year now and absolutely love what he does.
- Amber teething necklace: Rooney wears this 24 hours a day. You might think we're crazy. Sometimes I think we are. But does it hurt anything? I don't think so. Plus, I think it's cute.
- Hyland's Teething Tablets: These are little dissolvable tablets that we put under Rooney's tongue and let them dissolve in her mouth. We use 2-3 at a time. They are all natural. (P.S. Yes, I have read the article about how these were recalled in 2010. We still choose to use them.)
I had an ear infection last year and I kind of think the reason was so that I would know how painful they really are! It was terrible! Rooney has never been diagnosed with an ear infection, but I wouldn't be surprised if she's had one. I think lots of people are scared of ear infections because they think infections can't be cured without antibiotics and a ruptured ear drum sounds like a terrible thing (I've read it's actually not that detrimental, but I encourage you to do your own research). Here's what we do when we suspect she may have ear pain:
- Watchful waiting: In one 2000 study, 240 children under age 2 who were diagnosed with acute otitis media (middle ear infection) were treated with watchful waiting. After 4 days, only 3% of the children required treatment with antibiotics, while the infection cleared in the other 97%. (source)
- Warm garlic oil: WebMD actually recommends this one, for you medical peeps. You can make it or buy it. We choose to buy it. We put a couple drops of this in Rooney's ears when we suspect she may have pain in her ears. You can warm it in a glass of water (similar to warming a bottle) or by rubbing it back in forth in your hands. (Rooney is not a huge fan, and it is hard to administer if you're the only adult home. Also, warning: your child will smell like an Italian restaurant, and when the oil drains it looks like ear wax.)
- Hydrogen peroxide: I have had Eric do this for me a couple times this year when I've had infections. Rooney doesn't love this either, but it pours in quicker than the garlic oil (which is nice with a squirmy baby) and starts bubbling up right away, killing the infection. In my experience, it doesn't take away the pain completely but it does mute it a bit and helps to feel like you're doing something to kill the infection.
- Hyland's also sells Infant Earache Drops that I totally forgot I had but recently found them in Roo's drawer. We will have to try those next time (although these are not supposed to be used at the same time as essential oils, which I am wanting to do more research on).
- Chiropractic visits, as explained above.
I really loved the two blog posts by Kitchen Stewardship on natural remedies for ear infections. It gave me a lot of confidence in treating ear infections naturally:
- Kids' Ear Infections: A Home Remedy?
- Fighting Illness Naturally Is Scary (Especially When You're Blind)
If Rooney has a fever, cough or runny nose, there are a couple things we do to boost her immune system.
- Garlic: Garlic is an amazing thing. It is a natural immune booster. You can eat garlic, but for Rooney we tape a sliver of garlic to each of her feet before she goes to bed, or put it in her socks. We do this for ourselves when we are sick, too.
- Peppermint: We inhale peppermint oil - we either put a couple drops in our hands and then inhale very deeply (remember to close your eyes), or put 5-10 drops in crock pot with water and breathe the steam. We leave the crock pot in Rooney's room overnight to let it permeate her room.
- Cellfood: We have yet to use this with Rooney, but Eric and I use it. I used it a lot when I was pregnant and drinking a ton of water. You just put a few drops in your glass of water. You can taste it at first, but I have grown to love the taste. It helps your body's red blood cells absorb the oxygen in your water. You can also use this for your plants and pets. (The link above goes to Eric's stepmom's website. She sells the product so we get it directly from her.)
- Avoiding dairy and grains: When Rooney is sick, I make extra caution to avoid dairy and grains in her diet. She doesn't eat much of them at home anyway, but I think these two things are hard to digest and may affect us more than we think.
This is the list of options we run through first when Rooney seems to not be feeling well. Of course, you know your child better than I do. I would argue that you know better than a doctor, too. Most times when Rooney is sick, she acts like herself, just sleeping a bit more. If she was crying from pain, lethargic, refusing to eat, not having regular bowel movements, etc., I would be concerned. I also don't think there is anything wrong with getting a diagnosis and then treating however you feel comfortable.
I should also note that we value sleep higher than almost anything else in our house, so we do use acetaminophen (we buy a generic brand that has no dyes and no high fructose corn syrup) at times when Rooney seems really uncomfortable. I know acetaminophen has terrible ingredients but sometimes we reach the end of ourselves and just do it!
What do you think? Do you do any of these things? What are your favorite natural remedies?