After a week of my sick kid having what I thought was the common cold, I finally took her to the doctor to be sure it wasn’t something serious. She’d had a sore throat and a fever along with lots of other cold symptoms. She’d been happy enough to chill out on the couch with me, so at first, I thought it was nothing to worry about. We tried some home remedies that usually help her when she's sick, but this time, she wasn’t improving at all.
As it turns out, she had RSV, a sinus infection, and parainfluenza. Studies show that, unlike many viruses that run their course in 24 hours, RSV can be contagious for as many as four weeks (1). Hello, plastic bubble. And she didn’t just have RSV, so I thought we’d be in for a long-haul recovery.
I’ll preface this by saying it isn’t medical advice. That said, it’d be pretty hard to find fault with these ideas, but do run them past your doctor to see if they’re a match for your sick kid.
Aside from the wonderful benefits of touch and snuggles on health, here are the home remedies that (ready for it?) got my child back on her feet within four days of starting them. Four days; not four weeks! Oh, and for what it’s worth, my doctor approved them for us. I’m not a fan of many of the side effects of standard meds (my child is very sensitive to them, as am I), so we prefer natural remedies whenever possible. (To be clear, we take them when we need to.)
Some of the best health news I’ve ever heard is that dark chocolate (above 70% cocoa) is more effective for
coughs than codeine. Score! Did I need any help encouraging my sick child to have some of her favorite dark chocolate? Not one bit. We keep plenty on hand for “emergencies” of all kinds. (afflinks) And of course, I took some preventatively! To be honest, I doubt it works preventatively, but it made me happy.
Further, as easy as it is to get a sick kid to eat chocolate, it’s just as simple to convince her to have some pure, raw honey (make sure you don't give honey to a child who's less than a year old because it can lead to infant botulism). Offering her an immune-boosting garlic and honey combination was an easy sale. She ate it straight, just garlic chopped small and dipped in honey, on a spoon. She also
ate it on toast. Along with that, she downed plenty of anti-inflammatory blueberries and fresh ginger tea.
There are lots of savory anti-inflammatory foods, too, but these sweet ones sure didn’t hurt her spirits. How nice that some of what she needed most, were things she wanted the most.
Some of these are home remedies, and some are natural remedies that are, according to my doctor, “herbals.” I didn’t realize how easy we had it when our daughter was a baby and we could just pull out the brilliant (albeit gross) NoseFrida and give her some dissolvable cold tablets. Now that she’s older, she has stronger opinions about what she’ll ingest.
She loved taking these easy-to-administer and dissolvable pellets at the onset of her symptoms, and she
never turns down sweet elderberry syrup. You can make a homemade version of elderberry syrup for much less money if you have the right ingredients. With our doctor’s guidance, we temporarily increased her vitamin D3 (we like this version because it's an imperceptible liquid we can add to her drink).
She loves her daytime and nighttime cough medicines. I love the nighttime version because it has just enough strength, along with a bit of melatonin, to help my sick kid sleep without coughing at night. The daytime version of Zarbee’s is worth keeping around, too; as is their version with individual portions (great for when we’re ready to leave the house but concerned about coughing).
Finally, because of the sinus infection, she needed something effective, but we weren’t keen on antibiotics
as a first defense. (Of course, we’d take them if we had to.) Although she didn’t love the flavor of this sinus medicine, oh my–her sinus symptoms disappeared almost immediately after she started it. Knowing that our sense of smell strongly affects how we taste food, she agreed to let me hold a medjool date (her favorite sweet treat) under her nose while she took the medicine. We practiced “shots” of water beforehand, and that also helped when it came time for medicine. The “tricking her senses with sweet smell” and “water shot practice” approach worked wonders, fortunately. That’s my helpful hint to you.
Our doctor also showed us a video of this “gentler” version of a sinus rinse for kids. We’re not there yet, but close.
I took vitamin D3, elderberry syrup, and these AMAZING anti-viral herbs, and I managed to stay
completely healthy. The herbs aren’t cheap, but there are a ton of them in the bottle. They last a really long time, and in my opinion, staying healthy is worth every penny. (I did the math now, just for fun. Let’s say I took 10 of them throughout the duration of her illness. Would I pay a few bucks to avoid going down hard and feeling miserable? Absolutely.) That said, all of the kids’ items I’ve listed above are also available in adult versions on the “Food and Health” section of our site, if you need them.
Our doctor pointed out the importance of balancing enough stillness with enough movement as a home remedy to clear my daughter’s lungs. From what I’ve heard, if we’re too sedentary, the “gunk” can get
stuck in our lungs; risks include increased inflammation and potential for pneumonia. No thank you! Since my girl didn’t want to leave the couch, I grabbed my exercise ball and helped her do some gentle, lung clearing, and immune boosting stretches over it. She thought it was wildly fun (well, as “wild” as someone who doesn’t want to move can get), and she said the stretches made her chest feel better. It seemed to ease her coughing, so I’ll take her word for it.
The humid air from inside the bathtub is a good way to keep a sick kid still for awhile; there’s o
nly so far she can go in there. Semi-immersion in warm water helped release the gunk in her lungs. Although she coughed more, the coughs became more productive.
At night, we used a really effective and adjustable cool mist humidifier. I love how quiet it is, and that it has a 12- and 24-hour timer option if I forget to turn it off in the morning when my mind is on caring for the sick kid.
No matter how bored we got, we stayed home. We certainly didn’t want to inflict the Plague of Blaaaah (as I dubbed it) on anyone else. I picked up enough library books to run the entire length of our house, and we read every single one. There’s just no substitute for staying still and letting a sick child’s body heal.
The home remedy part is easy compared to figuring out what to do at home for weeks. And fortunately, we didn’t have to figure it out. She got better. Quickly.
As a mama, the home remedies that get us up and out as fast as possible, are exactly the ones I like best. As they say, prevention is the best medicine. It feels so good to be well.
Source 1: https://www.cdc.gov/rsv/about/transmission.html
Many kids have an inherent panic response when Mom or Dad starts counting, "1...2...3..."---the three most fearsome numbers of childhood. Although the consequences differ from household to household, counting is often code for imminent trouble. Peaceful, positive parenting can change that. Rather than counting to three as a threat (suggesting punishment that's rarely effective anyway), counting can be a useful parenting tool for you. Here's how.
For those brief seconds, recall a tender moment when your little one was a baby. Remember the feeling of those tiny fingers wrapped around yours. Alternatively, imagine your "baby" being older and moving out of your home. Picturing either extreme will automatically ground you and help you remember how fleeting this moment is. Part of positive parenting can include using mindfulness techniques like this one.
Does that mean you agree to every request or throw your boundaries out the window? Of course not. However, you can reevaluate whether you can say yes more often (you'll find some practical ideas of how to do that here).
Walking past a playground recently on our way somewhere else, my daughter wanted to stop and swing on the swings. We really didn't have time. I could tell by looking at her, though, that it was important to her. So, I said, "Yes, you may swing for three seconds before we keep walking. I'll start counting as soon as you get on the swing, and when I get to three, it'll be time to go." She agreed.
She shed no tears; she didn't negotiate for more time (aside from my agreeing that it was reasonable for her swing to slow down before she hopped off). Part of her lack of desire to negotiate in situations like this is that she's learned she'll often get a "yes"---even if just a brief one.
These little "yeses" can go so far in supporting connection with your child. Some might argue that their child wouldn't get off the swing so easily, but I wonder if they'd consider the time they'd lose in managing their child's disappointment, and the missed opportunity to connect.
It's easy to say yes more often once you practice, and once you build trust with your child that it's what your answer will often be. The "forbidden fruit" they're seeking will feel less forbidden, and therefore be less of a draw, if they feel you're on their side.
This approach also makes your parenting approach easier for your kids because they learn when "no" really needs to happen. They trust it's not arbitrary.
In our house when my child was younger, this "counting to three" took the form of "Would you like to go put on your shoes now, or would you like me to hold you while I count to three so you'll have some time to prepare?" It worked amazingly well. It's as if my child really needed that count of three to ready herself for whatever was coming next, even if the task was as mundane (in adult eyes) as brushing teeth or walking to the car.
Three seconds to adjust is often just enough time to connect and make the transition easier for both of you.
It can be a "yes space" for both of you, child and parent, where you ground yourselves for a better interaction and greater connection. And it can be as easy as 1, 2...well, you know.
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