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Nobody wants to see their child suffer through an illness helplessly. While the doctor’s advice and treatment remain irreplaceable and top-priority, most parents still itch to make themselves useful and contribute to their child’s recovery process in some way or other.
It’s a good thing then that most of the health issues that plague children tend to be relatively commonplace and harmless. You can rely on some all-natural home remedies to help your child get through his occasional tummy troubles, common cold episodes, and the likes, without worrying about potential side effects.
Note: Be mindful of any warning signs by keeping track of your child’s healing process to avoid future complications or the risk of serious illnesses. At the first sign of trouble, call your doctor right away.
Home Remedies to Deal With Children’s Health Issues
Here are some natural ways to help your child overcome common maladies:
1. Honey for common cold
The common cold is caused by different types of viruses. Symptoms include a runny or stuffy nose, coughing, sneezing, fever, sore throat, itching eyes, mild body aches, and a general feeling of illness.
For children suffering from the common cold, raw honey is an excellent remedy due to its antimicrobial properties. It helps reduce nighttime coughing as well as induce more sound sleep, which is a blessing for a child grappling with the discomforts of the common cold. (1)(2)
How to use:
- Mix 2 teaspoons of raw honey and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
- Give it to your child 3 or 4 times a day for a few days.
- In case of fever, do not forget to give your child a sponge bath to help reduce body temperature.
- Also, give your child homemade chicken soup to boost immunity.
Note: Do not give honey to children under the age of 1 as it can cause a rare but serious gastrointestinal condition called infant botulism. Wild honey contains C. botulinum spores, and the bacteria from these spores can proliferate inside the baby’s intestines paving the way for this disease. Even a tiny taste of honey is out of bounds for children under 12 months old.
2. Ginger for asthma
Asthma in children is steadily increasing. It is a lung disease with typical symptoms being wheezing, coughing, tightness around the chest, and shortness of breath. The condition can be triggered by allergies, air pollution, respiratory infections, and a humid climate. (3)(4)
Ginger is a time-honored natural treatment for asthma. Its anti-inflammatory property helps reduce airway inflammation and inhibit airway contraction, thereby helping your distressed child breathe easily.
How to use:
- Mix equal amounts of ginger juice, pomegranate juice, and honey. Give your child 1 tablespoon of this mixture 3 times a day.
- You can also give your child ginger candies.
Note: It is not recommended to give ginger candies to children under the age of 3, as it can be hard to swallow and prove to be a choking hazard.
3. Olive oil for earaches
Earaches in children can be extremely discomforting. The pain can be sharp or dull, that comes in waves or persists continually.
Most often, childhood earaches are caused by ear infections and fluid buildup in the middle ear. They can also be due to the common cold, blockage in the nasal passage and an increase in air pressure. (5)
The best treatment for earaches is olive oil, which works as a lubricant and helps get rid of ear infections.
How to use:
- Put 3 or 4 drops of lukewarm olive oil into your child’s ear canal. The oil will cause the wax to soften, which can then be removed by seeking the help of an expert.
- Applying a warm washcloth around the affected ear can also help relieve pain.
4. Fennel for stomachache
Almost all children suffer from stomachaches at one time or another. They can be due to constipation, indigestion, gas, acid reflux, stomach flu, food poisoning, overeating, colic, and swallowing air. (6)
Fennel seeds are a good way to help relieve stomach pain in children due to gas or indigestion.
How to use:
- Add 1 teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds to 1 cup of hot water and steep for 10 minutes. Strain, add a little honey and have your child drink it slowly 2 times a day.
- You can also give your child a small number of roasted fennel seeds to chew after a meal.
Also, give your child warm water to drink at regular intervals while experiencing a stomachache. This will help expel gas and also prevent constipation.
5. Turmeric for coughs
Coughing is one of the most common health problems in children.
Coughing is a response to a blockage or irritant in the throat or upper respiratory passages. It can be due to a viral infection, the common cold, flu, and other health problems like asthma. It is often accompanied by an itchy throat, chest pain, and congestion.
How to use:
- Mix ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of warm milk and give it to your child to drink twice daily.
- For a dry cough, mix ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder with 1 teaspoon of honey and give it to your child 3 times a day.
6. Bananas for diarrhea
Diarrhea is loose and watery stools that often occur with abdominal pain. It is the body’s way of ridding itself of bacteria and viruses and can last from a few days to a week.
Your child’s diarrhea might stem from some infection, consumption of contaminated food or water, or food poisoning.
How to use:
- One way to provide relief to a child who has got the runs is to feed him/her unripe green banana, typically eaten with white rice since brown rice is difficult to digest. (9) The high pectin content of bananas is what works to rein in the incontinence to some degree. Pectin is a water-soluble fiber that acts as a gelling agent and helps soak in the intestinal fluids.
- Bananas are also high in potassium which helps replace electrolytes that may be lost during diarrhea. If your child does not like bananas, make a smoothie with yogurt and banana instead.
- You can also give your child bland foods like boiled potatoes, rice water, and clear broths.
7. Aloe vera for skin rashes
Rashes on the skin is another common concern of parents of small children. Skin rashes cause redness, itchiness and, at times, pain and inflammation. These rashes can be caused by allergies, insect bites, mites, excessive sweating, or contact with certain poisonous plants like poison ivy or oak.
The soothing and calming properties of aloe vera help provide symptomatic relief from skin rashes in children. (10)
How to use:
- Apply some fresh aloe vera gel on the affected area.
- Wait 20 minutes and then rinse it off with cool water. Repeat this remedy a few times daily.
You can also rub some extra-virgin olive oil on the rash a few times daily.
Applying a cold compress on the affected area can help ease itching, swelling, and inflammation. However, do not put ice cubes directly on the skin as it can aggravate your child’s sensitive skin, and might even lead to frostbite.
8. Coconut oil for minor wounds
Children often suffer from minor wounds while playing around in the park or at home. When the outer skin layer becomes torn or punctured, it can produce symptoms including bleeding, redness, swelling, inflammation, pain, and tenderness. (11)(12)
How to use:
- To treat a wound, you need to clean it first thoroughly.
- Keep the affected area under clean running water to get rid of any dirt, dust, and other particles.
- Wash it with mild antiseptic soap and pat dry.
- To facilitate healing, apply extra-virgin coconut oil to the wounded area and cover it with a bandage.
- Repeat this remedy 2 or 3 times a day for a few days.
The antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and moisturizing properties of coconut oil will promote healing and prevent infection.
Additional Tips to Prevent Common Childhood Illnesses
- Make sure your toddler does not put his or her hands in their mouth or touch his/her face too much.
- Monitor your children’s activities to ensure that they are practicing good hygiene.
- Keep your home clean and free of dust and clutter.
- Make sure the plates and cups your child is using are clean and that the food he eats is prepared hygienically.
- Give your child clean water to drink at regular intervals.
- When your child is sick, make him rest to speed up recovery.
- Do not allow a sick child to play outside, as it will put other children at risk.
- Take your child for regular checkups to be sure he is meeting developmental goals appropriate for his age.
The above listed home remedies optimize the therapeutic value of natural ingredients that are readily available, cost next to nothing, and are safe for your child’s underdeveloped system. They help the child recuperate faster and better without the threat of side effects.
These natural interventions have registered time-tested success and can work on their own or as adjunctive aids to mainstream medicine.