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cold remedies

Flu and cold season is here, and if it's anything like last year (which, by the way, was the longest flu season we have had in a decade) we need to prepare. Every year, mamas swear by the best way to combat colds but do they really work? How many times have you loaded up on vitamin C and you never felt better? And what about dark chocolate—does it really reduce coughs?

Whatever you decide to take (or not) just remember to check with your provider to make sure what you're experiencing is "just a cold."

We're breaking down popular cold remedies every mama should be familiar with. Here are remedies to try (and some to avoid) this cold and flu season:

1. Honey

Exactly how honey works to reduce cough is not fully understood, but some ways include increasing salivary production, changing how much mucus the body makes, and causing the brain to increase the level of irritation needed to trigger a cough. Remember, though, honey should never be administered to infants less than 12 months due to the risk of botulism.

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2. Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate (containing higher levels of cocoa) may be beneficial in cough suppression. Cocoa contains a compound called theobromine, which has been found to reduce activity in nerves carrying cough signals to the brain and reduce inflammation and airway spams in the lungs. Finally, the sweetness in dark chocolate can work similarly to honey to reduce cough.

3. Hydration

Hydration is an important part of managing cold symptoms. Cough, increased rate of breathing, fever and congestion (symptoms often seen in children with colds) can all lead to dehydration. Keeping children hydrated is an important part of keeping their bodies functioning well, both to help with fighting the cold and to prevent more serious illness related to dehydration. In infants, the best way to hydrate is through breastfeeding. For older children (toddlers, preschoolers and school-aged children), water is the best way to hydrate. In addition, high-water containing foods (soups, watermelon, etc) can also help children stay hydrated.

4. Chicken soup

Turns out, Grandma was right—chicken soup is apparently not only for helping the soul, it also prevents migration of neutrophils, powerful white blood cells critical to triggering inflammation during a cold. Chicken soup also promotes secretory IgA, one of the first lines of defense in fighting viruses along mucous linings.

5. Breastfeeding

Breastmilk benefits can especially be seen in its immune benefits in fighting viruses and other infections in infants. Breastmilk passes immunity from mother to baby for diseases that exist in their shared environment and also promotes a baby's innate ability to fight infection through strengthening their first-line disease-fighting ability (such as mucosal immunity). It can also reduce incidence of secondary infections seen after colds, such as ear infections.

6. Vitamin C.

Surprisingly, vitamin C is generally not found to be effective in the prevention and treatment of the common cold. Clinically, I don't recommend this in children because the evidence isn't strong and many supplements are not subject to any regulations. If parents wish to integrate Vitamin C-rich foods through diet, such as eating orange slices, there would not be any harm (and possibly some benefit) with such interventions.

7. Echinacea

Echinacea is a herb that's used as a dietary supplement for the common cold and other infections, based on the idea that it might stimulate the immune system to more effectively fight infection. Echinacea's effects for common cold treatment are mixed in general populations. In higher-quality studies (more reliable and larger), Echinacea has not been found to be effective in children. It's also important to note that we don't know if it's safe to digest echinacea while breastfeeding.

8. Zinc

Zinc has had some mixed findings in studies, but higher-quality studies in children found no effect. I don't recommend zinc because it can damage a patient's sense of smell. I feel the risk of use outweighs the questionable clinical benefit, especially when there are other safer and more effective home remedies.

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They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

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Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

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Balance board

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Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

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This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

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Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

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Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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