It's always worrisome when your little one suddenly catches cold and becomes listless, uncomfortable and clingy. It's normal to want to jump right into action to reduce the fever and relieve the suffering, but what's the safest way to treat your baby's cold, cough and fever naturally?
I wear quite a few hats in my life, but one of my favorites is supporting my family and friends during times of illness. So a couple of weeks ago, my friend Julie dialed her personal Ask-a-Nurse hotline (a.k.a. my cell phone) when her 4 month old baby woke up with a heavy duty cold. I got busy doing my geeky research thing and found plenty of natural remedies to boost her immune system and comfort her achy little body.
How to Treat Fevers in Babies Naturally
The fever your baby has may be the cause of discomfort, but it's actually beneficial – a positive sign that her immune system is working. With Tylenol's latest – and very scary – black box warning, it's even more important than ever to skip the treatment most often used by parents to reduce fever.
Here's how we should be handling fevers instead:
- If your child's fever is making him miserable, Dr Benton recommends using a wet washcloth with a drop or two of lavender oil on his forehead to bring relief.
- When it’s time to try to bring the fever down, Mommypotamus recommends trying an old remedy used by grandmothers and great-grandmothers that is thought to “draw out” the fever: soak a couple washcloths in diluted apple cider vinegar (1 part vinegar and 2 parts water), then place them on the forehead and tummy, or add a cup to a warm bath.
- Wellness Mama suggests trying a warm bath with epsom salts or magnesium and a sprinkle of powdered ginger to help alleviate muscle aches. DO NOT try a cold bath because it will shock her body, which is counterproductive. You can also try a sponge bath, as the water evaporating from your skin will cool down the body.
- Arnica gel is what Modern Alternative Mama uses to help with body aches.
Top Natural Remedies to Ease Stuffy Noses and Coughing (While Fighting Bacteria + Viruses)
Over the years, I've witnessed the power of how simple elements found in nature can work wonders in my own kids. We very rarely visit the doctor for anything that doesn't require serious medical intervention anymore.
- Diffuse essential oils in a pot of boiling water or with a warm steam humidifier. Some essential oils that are generally considered safe for babies 6+ months and are great for loosening congestion and fighting the cold itself are cedarwood, sandalwood, cinnamon leaf, thyme, lemon and ginger (NOTE: Be sure to use certified organic essential oils when available to make sure you're not absorbing or inhaling concentrated amounts of harmful chemicals or pesticides used during the growing process)
- Add some lavender to the humidifier to help your baby relax
- Use Badger Balm Aromatic Chest Rub or make your own DIY Vapor Chest Rub
- Place a few drops of preservative free nasal saline drops in baby’s nose and gently suction with the amazingly effective Nosefrida (see our how-to video here)
- Give her Hyland's Baby Tiny Cold homeopathic tablets
- Try Maty's organic cough syrup (it really works for babies 1 year and up, and has no artificial dyes or other nasty ingredients)
TIP: Be sure to choose non-toxic essential oil diffusers too so you're not ruining your perfectly wonderful essential oils with toxic chemicals from the plastic!
A Few Notes on Essential Oil Safety
- Remember to NEVER use any essential oils directly on baby without proper dilution with a carrier oil, and be sure to choose only those that are known to be safe for children.
- Choose 100% pure essential oils and be sure to use certified organic when available to make sure you’re not absorbing or inhaling extremely concentrated amounts of harmful chemicals or pesticides used during the growing process.
- ALWAYS keep essential oils out of reach of children. Use only eucalyptus radiata for children under 6, or substitute lemon or oregano essential oils in its place.
For more information, please see this helpful article on safe essential oils for babies and children.