Natural Remedies for Children I Always Have Around
People often ask me what I use for natural remedies for children. I may be well-versed in natural wellness, and and highly motivated, but like any family, we do not have the perfect diet or lifestyle 100% of the time. Life happens. Even if we were 100% diligent, illness still happens. My kids get sick like everyone else’s.
Here, I share our go-to natural remedies for children… the stuff we always have on-hand this time of year.
First, About Getting Sick…
I believe that getting colds and minor infections is the best way to build my child’s immune system. Therefore, I actually don’t try to avoid it any more than the average parent. The goal is for my children’s bodies to be able to fight off any illness as well as possible.
So *that* is why we eat right, we sleep enough, and we don’t eat a lot of sugar. Well, we try, at least. We focus on good health not to avoid illness, but rather, to prevent illnesses from being too severe.
Naturopathy holds that people do not get sick because of “germs.” Rather, people get sick when their internal environment favors germs. The analogy is that a seed only grows well in fertile soil. Similarly, bacteria, viruses, and fungus also thrive most often in an opportune environment -namely a weak, or “sick” body. The extent to which germs thrive depends on the strength/health/vitality (or lack thereof) of the body they infect, as well as how robust the “seed” is.
This perspective on illness makes sense when you realize that it is IMPOSSIBLE to avoid contact with “germs.” The question is whether, or how well, those infections take hold.
My job as a mother is not to prevent my children from ever getting sick. Short of a strict quarantine, that would be impossible. My job as a mother is to ensure that any illnesses that take hold are mild and quick, and are treated with an adequate dose of love and comfort. Therefore, I am assisting the body with its job of ridding illness. I am supporting the body.
So, in my mind, children who get minor illnesses are the picture of perfect health.
I am including links to the exact products that we use (and love) because there are a lot of options out there. [They are affiliate links, which doesn’t affect your purchase at all, but all the pennies from supportive readers help me to continue providing great content.] Here are my favorite natural remedies for children:
1. Olive Leaf Extract
I always have olive leaf extract for the entire family. This herb is a potent anti-viral, so it combats many of the common illnesses that my children will come across (or lick). It has a potent flavor, so I mix it with cherry juice or apple cider at the first sign of illness. It is not uncommon for us to have cups of apple cider spiked with olive leaf lined up on the counter in the morning.
2. Peppermint Essential Oil or Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Coughs and nasal congestion respond very well to an essential oil of peppermint or eucalyptus. My favorite way to use them is to mix a couple drops of either (or both) with about about a half teaspoon of carrier oil (olive oil works well), and rub it on the child’s chest and back. This is particularly soothing at nighttime. You don’t need any name brand chest rub. For babies, I place a few drops on a washcloth, and tuck it flat under the corner of their fitted sheet at bedtime. You can also rub the oil with a carrier into your child’s feet and put on some socks. I have also put drops into a diffuser in their bedroom.
This homeopathic medicine is fantastic for anything with a sudden and dramatic onset: the sudden high fever; a child who suddenly screams with ear pain during the night; a sudden and painful sore throat. You get the idea. Because this is great for ailments that come on suddenly, it’s best to have belladonna available before illness strikes. Note that homeopathic medicines do not work well with peppermint or eucalyptus oils, so do not use this remedy in combination with those oils, and wait at least 30 minutes after brushing teeth.
A few drops of a tincture of calendula oil in olive oil is great for soothing (note that this is different from an alcohol-based tincture, which can be drying and irritating). Rub a few drops on dry or irritated skin, or put a few drops of concentrated oil in a bath for children with dry skin. I also use this topically in my child’s ears when he has a dull earache, especially if I believe it’s due to inflammation from allergies.
5. Oil Of Garlic
Garlic tinctures take many forms; not surprising since it is great for just about everything. Garlic is a potent antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral herb. Tinctures of garlic and mullein are reliably used for ear infections in lieu of antibiotics. There are specific garlic ear oils that have a blend of herbs for soothing earaches. Those garlic ear oils are useful, but I prefer the straight oil so that I can use it more flexibly.
Feel free to put garlic oil on your feet (or your child’s feet) at the first sign of illness in the air. Garlic tinctures can be used interchangeably with olive leaf extract at the first threat of illness to help prevent infections taking hold, or shorten the duration and potency of an infection. Since garlic can be used both topically and internally, it is a favorite in our house for its versatility.
6. Organic Peppermint Tea
Plain peppermint tea (not mixed with any green or black tea) is useful as a digestive tonic for children. Most children love the flavor, especially if it is sweetened with a little honey. The tea soothes stomach upset, and can relieve both constipation and diarrhea depending on the body’s needs. It helps with nasal and chest congestion, and it is calming for coughs, and in general.
7. A Few Other Homeopathics
I also keep a few other homeopathics around just in case. Homeopathics are inert, and I feel confident using them with children. My children have no complaints about taking them, and if I use the right remedy, I see awesome results. You can use multiple individual homeopathic remedies together to suit your needs. See the note with Belladonna about combining these with specific oils.
- I use the kali bichromium for nasal congestion with thick yellow or green mucous.
- Natrum muriaticum, on the other hand, is better for runny noses with clear, runny mucous.
- Chamomilla is for when my child is inconsolable and irritable (“I want it, no I don’t want it, I want it…”).
- If your child is more clingy and weepy, then you can opt for Pulsatilla instead of Chamomilla.
- And the teething remedy is great for any irritability or fussiness, including teething, but also those days when my child is probably “coming down with something.” Note that this is NOT a single homeopathic – so double check the ingredients if you use it in combination with other homeopathics to ensure that you are not “double-dosing.”
8. My Chiropractor
My chiropractor is not in my medicine cabinet, but the husband-wife team we see is one of my favorite natural remedies for children, and they have gotten us through many lingering runny noses and fussy spells. From what I understand, when cranial bones are misaligned, drainage is impaired and the child gets congested, holds on to congestion, or the congestion gets infected. For one year of my oldest child’s life, I knew he needed an adjustment whenever he got a runny nose for more than 3 days. Inevitably, with an adjustment and a long nap, he was clear.
But it’s not just head congestion that chiropractic care helps. When the body is in alignment, every kind of signalling, drainage, and nourishment is more effective throughout the body. Chiropractic can help with regular bowel movements, and other childhood complaints, too. Be sure to find a chiropractor that specializes in pediatrics, and comes with high recommendations specifically for children: Ask about Pediatric Fellowships or a Diplomate.
9. Daily Health Support
Along with these medicine cabinet favorites, my children do get the following supplements almost daily during the colder months:
- Fish Oil – I prefer the Nordic Naturals Brand. If you can get your child to take a liquid fish oil in juice, their Fish Oil with D3 is great. If you choose the liquid with D3, adjust your Vitamin D supplement intake accordingly. I link up to the gummies here, though because they are more kid-friendly.
- Probiotics – One link below is for the family-value (large bottle) of probiotics that everyone in the house can use. I also link to the allergen-free version. This is one of the few high-quality probiotics I have found that is both gluten-free and dairy-free. In either case, you will have open the capsule and add the probiotic powder to a smoothie, apple sauce, yogurt, etc if your child doesn’t yet swallow pills.
- Vitamin C – Chewable forms of vitamin C are a favorite in our home. I prefer ones with “complete” vitamin C (not just ascorbic acid) from food sources like acerola cherry or rosehips.
- Vitamin D – Our pediatrician recommends 1,000-5,000 IU of Vitamin D daily during the winter, and 10 times that during illness! This Carlsons liquid is her recommendation, and since 1 drop (!!!) has 1,000 IU, its economical and easy to administer.
- Water – It is easy to forget to hydrate during the colder months, but the air is drier during those months. Water helps the body clear wastes and toxins, and distribute nutrients, so it really is critically important to good health and healing.
As much as I would love for my children to never get sick (wouldn’t that be great!?!), it happens. Their life (and mine) is easier and more comfortable when I turn to one of these natural remedies for children. There are a few other things that I like to use, but these really are my favorites because they can combat nearly any complaint, and I can use them easily with my children.
A couple of my favorite references with plenty of natural remedies for children (and good advice on when professional medical attention is necessary) are:
- “Naturally Healthy Babies and Children: A Commonsense Guide to Herbal Remedies, Nutrition, and Health ” by Aviva Jill Romm; and
- “Everybody’s Guide to Homeopathic Medicines ” by Stephen Cummings and Dana Ullman.
And of course, see your pediatrician if your child has a fever that is too high or lasts too long, is dehydrated, is lethargic, cannot stop coughing, or is showing any other signs of needing immediate medical attention.
What are your favorite natural remedies for children? If you could add #10 to this list, what would it be? Leave it in the comments below…
You can read more about staying healthy (and happy) naturally, too.
While my preferences for natural remedies for children are based on research and education, please remember that this article includes my personal opinions, and not those of a licensed physician. Always consider consulting with your health care provider before making changes to your family’s supplements, diet, or exercise regimen.
An earlier version of this article was originally posted Science of Natural Health, and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission (me).