One of the worst things in the world is to watch your kiddo get sick. The runny nose, coughing, and low grade temp can be especially heartbreaking when it happens to an infant. Since cold medicine is unsafe (and even dangerous) for babies, most new moms aren’t sure what can be done to ease their discomfort.
While hand washing, avoiding crowded areas, and staying hydrated can lessen your baby's chances of getting ill, there are a few natural remedies that can be added to your mommy arsenal to shorten a virus or avoid it all together.
Elderberry is a plant with a myriad of uses. Most commonly found in natural cough syrups or supplements, elderberries contain flavonoids which can reduce inflammation and boost the immune system. Dr. Joseph Malak of Bambini Pediatrics, a holistically centered practice in Poughkeepsie, NY says, “For winter colds and flu-like illnesses, we like concentrated elderberry extracts. We are comfortable recommending short-term use of alcohol-free preparations down to two months of age.” The benefits are heightened when taken within 24-48 hours from when symptoms begin. Luckily many options taste kid friendly and won’t make your little one run and hide.
Missing out on those warm rays of sun may be part of the reason why so many of us get sick during the winter. The sun is the only thing in nature that produces Vitamin D. Those who are deficient miss out on its ability to fight off microbial infections. Dr. Eden Fromberg of SOHO OBGYN states, “Vitamin D is necessary for over 3,000 gene expressions and is a deficiency risk in breastfed infants whose mothers are also deficient. My approach as an OBGYN is to test and supplement maternal vitamin D, and many pediatricians are supplementing babies,” Dr. Malak adds, “We generally recommend 1000 units of D3 daily for toddlers, 2000 daily for elementary school-agers, and 4000-5000 daily for teens.” Luckily just a few drops of a vitamin D supplement can have your baby armed and ready for the rough season ahead.
We all know how dry the air is during the winter months. Using a cool misting humidifier in your nursery is a simple way to keep those little noses moist and free of congestion. Though essential oils shouldn’t be used on babies under 3 months, adding 5 drops of eucalyptus or tea tree oil to the humidifier will help open tight airways, allowing you and you baby much needed sleep. If you don’t have a humidifier, try sitting with your baby in your bathroom after running a hot shower.
Saline and Aspiration
Though most babies won’t be keen on having anything up their nose (prepare for some tears) this is one of the simplest ways to help them breathe more comfortably. First mucus can be loosened by using saline drops or spray. Then once it starts to run, you can clear their nasal passages with a bulb aspirator or the handy-dandy Nosefrida.
In their eyes, nose, or mouth, breast milk can be your sweet babe’s first defense against pesky colds and flus. Not only can it be used to hydrate and nourish your baby, but its antimicrobial properties work just as well at clearing their nose or stopping a viral eye infection. “The antiviral, anti-bacterial, immune promoting benefits of breast milk have been studied extensively and are not confined to feeding, as breast milk has long been used by mothers to safely treat their infants' ocular and nasal symptoms”, says Dr. Fromberg. One of coolest things about mama’s milk is that if your baby does get sick, his/her saliva will tell your body what kind of antibodies they need and your milk will produce them! Yup, your boobs are super smart.