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Home Remedies for Simple Baby Ailments

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a parent checking their baby's temperature

What do you do when your baby has a fever or tummy ache, or she can't breathe because of a stuffy nose? With so many over-the-counter medications available for relieving infant ailments, it's easy to reach for one. After all, they do the trick. But there is a downside. The fever reducer or decongestant that's in the drugstore today might be tomorrow's recall. Already, the FDA has withdrawn several baby cold and cough remedies, issued warnings on others and is being advised to regulate Tylenol, the number one cause of liver failure in the U.S.

Home remedies are a worthy option – especially for your baby’s developing immune systems. They’re natural and safe for your child, and may well alleviate his symptoms as well as medications. After all, they've been put to the test by generations of moms who, just like you, were trying to do the best thing for their babies. Still skeptical? Consider this: If someone once took the trouble of mashing garlic cloves and applying them on the soles of their baby’s feet to lower their high fever, and it worked for them, why shouldn’t it work for you?

Here are some tried-and-true methods for treating common baby ailments with home remedies.

Fever

A fever is the body’s natural defense against infection - its heat effectively kills the infection - so in most cases, it's best to let it run its course. However, especially if your baby's temperature is especially high  (over 101 degrees) or she can't get comfortable, you can take steps to lower it and relieve discomfort. (Do call the doctor before relying on home fever remedies, however).

  • Start undressing your baby. Simply uncover her feet, hands and head to help her body temperature will decrease.

  • Use wet compresses. Soak a clean kitchen towel or facecloth in cool water and place it in the fridge for 15 minutes. Then apply to baby’s forehead, neck and cheeks.

  • Bathe your baby. If compresses don't do the trick, sitting in a lukewarm bath for at least 20 minutes might. Having toys, bubbles or a waterproof book in the tub will help make the time go faster.

  • Hydrate your baby. Whatever method you use to lower your baby's temperature, remember that he needs lots of fluids to replace those lost while he’s hot and perspiring. Be sure to give your baby extra opportunities to drink; babies who are breastfed should be allowed to nurse more often. (Be wary of giving any baby water for hydration).

Some home fever remedies are a little more time consuming - you might even say weird - but  they've worked for some people.

  • Try vinegar. Wet your baby's hands and feet with white vinegar. Or, for a longer lasting application, soak a pair of baby socks and gloves in vinegar and put them on your child.

  • Use egg whites. Rub the whites on the soles of your baby’s feet.

  • Give your baby garlic feet. Rub some mashed garlic on the soles of your baby’s feet and then tie gauze around them to keep the garlic on, leaving some open areas for the heat to leave the body.

Teething

Watching your child experience the agony of teething can be harrowing. From one day to the next, it can transform you from being the parents of a happy, sleep-all-night kind of baby, to being the victims of a frowning, drooling, uncomfortable child who wakes up from the pain throughout the night.

Here are some ways to ease her discomfort without using pain-relieving medicine or even homeopathic tablets. (Homeopathy is fairly safe; nevertheless, too much of even the safest medicine can backfire).

  • Give icy relief. Offer your baby a cold teether to suck on. If you want to avoid plastic teethers, which might contain BPA, try putting a wet washcloth in the freezer for 30 minutes.

  •  Freeze some food. When a baby chews on cold food (good choices are frozen carrots, bananas or bagels), the pressure on the gums can alleviate the pain. Make sure to supervise your baby in case of choking.

  • Try more kitchen aid. Take an ice –cube, wrap a clean dish towel around it, then let the baby chew on it.

  • Distract the baby. Sometimes the simple act of doing something fun can temporarily alleviate pain.

Coughs

If your baby is congested and coughing, try some home remedies to help loosen the phlegm. (Call the doctor if the cough sounds like a bark, which could be croup; or if it  seem to be more than a simple cold symptom; or if it lasts more than a couple of days).

  • Steam the bathroom. Take your baby into the bathroom while a hot shower is running, keeping the bathroom door closed so that the steam builds up and helps loosen the phlegm. A warm bath will have the same effect. Five to ten minutes of steam four times a day should do the trick.

  • Vaporize. If the air is dry, use a vaporizer in the nursery with a few drops of eucalyptus oil in the water. A cool-air humidifier will help, too.

  • Keep him upright. Congestion is often caused by mucous from a stuffy nose dripping into the throat, so keeping the baby's head elevated can help alleviate symptoms. Try having the baby nap in his stroller or bouncy seat instead of lying in the crib.

  • Make an herbal rub. Concoct a homemade rub by putting a drop of eucalyptus oil in one tablespoon of olive oil. Rub the oil over the baby's chest and then cover it up so that the body’s heat releases the soothing eucalyptus scent.

  • Try salt. To help decongest the stuffy nose that often accompanies coughing, spray a couple of drops of saline solution (salt and water) in to your baby’s nose, making sure that the salt doesn't get into your infant's eyes, which would sting. You can make a saline solution by mixing a quarter teaspoon of salt into one cup of water. Stir the solution and store in a glass or plastic container.

Colic

Don’t despair. Although your colicky baby may seem inconsolable, there are a number of home remedies you can use to appease her pain. 

  • Burp your baby. Doing this during and after feeding may reduce the amount of gas in her system, and thus the pain.

  • Bathe your baby. A warm bath relaxes the intestines.

  • Give a relaxing massage. Using your three middle fingers, massage his tummy in a circular motion. You can also make a rub by mixing one teaspoon of almond oil with a drop of lavender or dill oil.

This information is not a substitute for personal medical, psychiatric or psychological advice.

 
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