Infants are susceptible to so much, but there are some great natural remedies that can ease their discomfort when they do become ill–without harmful side effects. NUHS alum Amanda Bose, DC, ND, founder and owner of Bose Complete Medicine, shares some great natural solutions for skin disorders, gut health and immune support.
Disclaimer: Infants need nutrients from food, and any supplement is in tiny amounts. Parents should consult their health care provider to determine a safe amount of a supplement to administer to an infant.
Eczema, Diaper Rash and Cradle Cap
Typically, we would want to make sure the child is getting adequate nutrition while avoiding food sensitivities that could contribute to these conditions. Therefore, identifying what children are being fed is helpful – whether they are breast fed or formula fed, or whether parents and caretakers are starting to introduce certain foods.
It is important to reduce food sensitivities as much as possible. If the patient is breast fed, proteins from foods that the mother ingests are significant, as these can crossover from breast milk to the child. Common allergens include cow’s dairy, gluten, eggs and soy. It is suggested for the mother or child (if they are eating solids) to avoid these foods for a period of time, and then reintroduce them to see if an allergic reaction occurs. For formula-fed babies, parents can switch from cow’s dairy to goat’s dairy at 6 months of age or older to see if it makes a difference.
- Topical solutions to soothe the lesions while addressing diet include: topical calendula, yarrow, comfrey, marshmallow root, Vitamin E, coconut oil and olive oil.
- Supporting gut integrity is helpful in treating skin conditions due to the gut-skin connection. Probiotics, fish oil and Vitamin D can help improve gut integrity, and therefore help with the absorption of nutrients and reduction in allergic reactions.
Colic is the frequent, intense and prolonged occurrence of crying and/or fussiness in otherwise healthy infants. Episodes can occur at any time of day, but frequently occur during the evening or at night. It can be extremely frustrating, because no amount of attention or consolation helps quiet the distressed infant.
Using these strategies may lessen the length of time and severity of colic episodes, while reducing stress and nurturing the parent-child connection:
- Avoiding known food sensitivities
- Administering healing herbs (orally) to soothe baby’s tummy, including: fennel, chamomile and lemon balm.
- Supporting gut integrity with probiotics, fish oil and Vitamin D.
- Trying abdominal massage to a child’s belly in a clockwise motion.
- Trying the pedaling technique and rhythmic burping.
Coughs, Colds and Flus
For coughs, colds, and flus, it is important to make sure the child is still getting the appropriate liquids to avoid dehydration. Any difficulty in breathing or rapid rate of breathing is a clear sign to call a physician immediately, or go to an urgent care center. Try to feed regularly, and if the baby has been eating solid foods, do things that are lighter on the tummy like bone broths, soups, and drinking water or herbal teas.
- Throat coat tea is a great option if a sore throat is a major symptom.
- Herbs that can help stimulate the immune system to fight off a cold or the flu include: elderberry, echinacea, wild cherry bark, goldenseal, ginger root and osha root.
- Supplements include Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin A and zinc.
- Steam inhalation with eucalyptus and peppermint, dehumidifiers, and menthol rubs can be helpful to clear congestion and sooth a sore throat.
- A tepid bath, or wet towel over the forehead can help with fever. However, depending on the severity of the fever, it may be better to let a fever run its course. In the case of a high fever, or a fever that is visibly causing discomfort, you can (with the approval of your pediatrician) give acetaminophen or ibuprofen to break the fever. If a fever is 103° degrees Fahrenheit or higher, the child cannot keep down foods and liquids, and they are lethargic, seek emergency care immediately.
While common health concerns may be part of life, there are safe, effective, natural solutions to alleviate pain and discomfort – even for the littlest patients.