Oh no! Your darling babe has brought more than his lunchbox home from daycare and now you’re left living with a sniffly, unhappy kiddo. If a doctor’s visit has told you that Junior has merely picked up a common cold (a common occurrence in the winter months), don’t despair. A few simple remedies can help with managing the severity and intensity of the symptoms. In fact, many of these suggestions will go a long way to preventing upper respiratory tract infections in the first place. Warning: some of these suggestions may sound a little “out there” – but I promise they work! The following protocol is safe for all healthy babies older than 6 months.
1. Limit Sugar
Sugar can limit the ability of your immune system to respond to the viruses and bacteria that cause many common illnesses. I don’t generally recommend that kids get sugar at any time, but it is especially important to avoid it when they are sick. This applies to all refined sugar, but not natural sugars found in fruit and vegetables. A gentle reminder, babies under 1 year should NEVER be given unpasteurized honey.
2. Vitamin D
You’ve heard me preach about this before, and this won’t be the last time! We get Vitamin D from the sun. Many of us are low in Vitamin D, especially families living in northern climates, and it’s important for proper immune function. Breastfed babies also need Vitamin D. I usually recommend 400IU daily for infants under 1 year, and 1000IU daily for older children and adults. Ideally, you’ll want to find either a gelcap or liquid form, as this increases absorption. Food sources of vitamin d include the following:
Fortified dairy products
Remember when Great Granny mentioned that you should eat a pound of dirt before you die? She was right! We live in an increasingly over-sanitized world, and this can wreak havoc on our good bacteria that keep us healthy. Probiotics are good bacteria that help us to regulate digestion and mood, and fight off infection. Consider talking to your doctor about whether probiotics could be right for you, especially if a child has been exposed to antibiotics. Dietary sources of probiotics include:
4. Wet Warming Socks
Okay, so here’s the crazy part. One of the worst parts about having a sick child is the congestion, right? It disrupts sleep, is gross to clean up, and can make a whole family miserable. One of the primary reasons that congestion is worse overnight is that our lymphatic systems slows down. Wet warming socks are a way to keep the lymph moving, so the congestion is relieved regularly throughout the night. Here’s how you do it:
1 congested kiddo
1 pair of regular cotton socks
1 pair of at least 60% wool socks
Make sure your child’s feet are warm and dry before starting. Run the cotton socks under cold water for 1-2 minutes and then wring them out. Put the wet socks on your child’s feet and then immediately put on the wool socks. You’ll likely want to do this about half an hour before bedtime so it doesn’t keep your little one awake. When they wake in the morning, both pairs of socks will be dry and you’ll hopefully all be breathing a little easier!
Hang in there, mama – this too shall pass!