Infants and toddlers are extremely prone to minor illnesses and injuries, from a simple congestion to insect bites. Rushing to the doctor for every minor scratch and cold often proves unfeasible; home remedies have often proven useful in such cases. It is, however, important to consult with a doctor/pediatrician before administering any home treatments to children to avoid incidences of allergies or potentially harmful reactions. Here are some useful natural home remedies to treat infant maladies:
Cough and congestion
Turmeric functions as a great natural curative and has proved itself as a successful home remedy for cough and congestion. Turmeric may be administered as a nasal drop or chest rub by making a paste with water and salt or may be mixed with lemon and/or honey in warm water to dilute congested mucus. Haldi doodh or turmeric milk also works as a great cure for cough and cold, and may also be mixed with honey, jaggery or other spices. However, honey should not be administered to infants below the age of one as it may lead to infant botulism.
Children are quite susceptible to seasonal flu and colds, and recurrently administering strong antibiotics may not be the way to go for every little cough and sneeze; a hot mustard oil massage has proven to work wonders in such cases. Besides improving blood circulation and retaining body heat, it also works as an effective decongestant and can help avoid coughs and colds in children. Warm mustard oil may be paired with a few garlic cloves, black cumin or basil for optimal results.
Commonly known as kadha (a concoction of Indian spices with warm water), the herbal concoction can work wonders in curing a sore throat. Made by boiling a grinded mix of spices and herbs such as tulsi, ginger, black pepper, cloves, cumin, cinnamon and honey/jaggery in water, the medicinal concoction also has anti-bacterial properties and works as an excellent immunity booster and decongestant. It is however important to note that the concoction may be too spicy to administer to very small infants, in which should either be avoided or diluted and boiled for a shorter duration to reduce the intensity of spice.
Chamomile tea has often proven to have healing effects on the infant digestive system, aiding digestion, easing constipation and relieving colic pains. While a soothing chamomile tea can relax the intestinal muscles of an infant, it also works great in relaxing nerves and inducing sleep in babies. It is however not recommended to administer the herbal tea to infants below six months of age.
Infant constipations are a common struggle for new parents, and home remedies are often recommended before administering medications. Absence of fiber in the diet may often lead to such problems, and incorporation of fiber-rich foods often does the work. Prunes (dried plums) have been known to relieve constipated infants by adding fiber and sorbitol to the diet, resulting in a laxative effect. They may be administered in juice form or pureed. They are however often not recommended for infants below 12 months unless recommended by a doctor.
Insect bites can become a source of extreme irritation for children in dealing with rashes, redness and swollen blisters. Most insect bites are curable with home remedies using day-to-day ingredients found in your house. Aloe vera provides a cooling relief to the skin, relieving pain, swelling and itchiness; lemon juice works as an effective disinfectant while a paste of baking soda and water helps restore the skin’s pH level, thereby producing a relief from itching. Apple cider vinegar can also aid in curing frequent mosquito bites in children, but it is a very strong solution to use on a child’s sensitive skin and may sting and leave a mark- if used, it must always be diluted effectively.
Rashes and lesions are common in infants and toddlers on account of their sensitive skin. Organic oils such as olive oil with its anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties or avocado oil with its antioxidant properties help heal rashes and restore the skin to smooth and supple, while oatmeal baths are also known to work wonders on chapped and peeling skin, also acting as an organic anti-inflammatory to soothe the sensitive skin of an infant. However, it is advised to consult a doctor if the rash persists or turns to eczema, which has a genetic history and may need proper medical treatment.
It is however important to always keep an eye on children when administering such home remedies to prevent the instance of allergies or reactions, especially when dealing with infants who may not bear the required digestive capacity to bear several foodstuffs such as honey (which may lead to infant botulism), saturated fats, sugary items and whole nuts.
Also read: Assessing and addressing pain in infants