A new study from Yale University has revealed giving antibiotics before six months of age could increase a child's risk of developing asthma by up to 70%.
What to do instead? A lot of dealing with childhood illnesses involves removing discomfort rather than 'curing' the ailment. Rather than stopping symptoms, your goal should be to reduce their severity so your child's body can exercise its immune system and fight illness naturally. This will make them stronger for next time.
Here's how to be a 'natural' mum...
Try giving 2.5ml (half-teaspoon) of honey to children two to five years old; 5ml to children six to 11 years old; and 10ml to those 12 years and older. Remember, don't give honey to babies younger than one.
Alternatively, chop an onion, add two tablespoons of sugar, place in a jar with a lid and leave for six hours. Give your child one teaspoon of syrup every few hours, or as needed.
For chronic or acute stomach pain, seek medical help.
For a one-off mild stomach ache, massage with a few drops of chamomile essential oil or peppermint essential oil. A warm bath or wheat bag placed on the tummy is also soothing.
Headaches often occur when blood sugar is low, so ensure your child eats three solid meals a day. Dehydration, too, is a common cause. Get your child to drink two cups of water at regular intervals.
Natural home remedies can be very effective in treating a fever but contact your doctor if it lasts for more than three days, rises above 101 degrees F, or if your child is younger than 12 weeks old.
Fluids are essential to keep your child hydrated and their blood sugar within the normal range. If drinks aren't tempting them, try lollies instead.
Small portions of easily-digestible healthy foods can also be beneficial. Try rice, grains, bananas, cereal, crackers, dry toast or plain bread.
Place a damp washcloth on your child's forehead for two minutes, then repeat three to four times a day for at least 20 to 25 minutes each time.
Soaking your child's socks and washcloths in a mixture of 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar and a cup of water can reduce the fever within minutes. Put the socks on the child's feet and the washcloths around their wrists. Repeat as needed.
A few drops of cod liver oil under the tongue will restore your child's levels of Vitamin A that will have dropped during the course of the fever.
A warm wheat bag (fill a fabric pouch with plain wheat kernels) provides enormous relief.
Microwave it with 1/2 cup of water for a minute or two until it becomes just hot to the touch, then gently apply it to the child's ear.
After vomiting, avoid giving your child water, food, or liquid for two hours - longer if possible. Their stomach needs to rest to avoid triggering another episode. If your child's really thirsty let them suck ice cubes.
Chicken soup is great at relieving diarrhoea as the gelatin it contains helps to bind up the liquid in the colon. Give your child a few tablespoons at time over the course of a few hours.
Relieve itching in a baking soda bath. Don't be stingy, you'll need around a 1lb box per bath!
Get an older child to gargle with salt and baking soda (half a teaspoon of each in a cup of warm water), or warm water with honey and slices of ginger. For younger kids, dig out the lollies.
Keep children hydrated. For babies under six months, stick to breast milk or formula. Otherwise, try water, diluted juice and milk. That milk promotes mucus building is an old wives' tale with no scientific proof.
Saline nasal drops can help relieve congestion and help babies feed more comfortably. Place a few drops in each nostril then use a bulb syringe to gently remove the discharge.
Broth-based soups like chicken noodle and vegetable help to clear chest congestion, open nasal passages and ease a sore throat.
Before bed, let your child breathe in the steam from a hot shower. Then, getting them to sit on your lap leaning forward, place a cupped hand on their back and tap gently to loosen mucus. Applying a menthol salve to their chests and back may help, too.
Place a rolled-up towel underneath the cot mattress to elevate and aid breathing. Don't place in the cot because of the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
Not all illnesses should be treated from home. If you're at all worried, or if your child suffers trauma, an extremely high fever (104 degrees F), or has trouble breathing, call your GP immediately.
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