Lesson 60: Drug your baby

I prefer the use of natural alternatives (for example, frozen waffles, wash cloths and yogurt for teething, baking soda and natural diaper creams for diaper rash, humidifiers for a stuffy nose, etc.) to medication when appropriate–but I will not hesitate to give my child medication when I feel like he needs it. As in most parenting areas, what’s appropriate for me and my child and what is appropriate for you and yours, may be very different things. But there is one very important thing that has to do with “natural alternatives” and “home remedies” that I think many people don’t realize.

Just because a product is marked “homeopathic” or “all natural,” does not mean it’s safe. Often, there are no agencies to regulate claims made on such products, including the ingredients that go in them, the directions for their use, where they come from/how they’re grown, possible side effects, or even that they do what they claim to do. As an example, I’m going to pick on essential oils for just a moment. Let me preface by saying that I like essential oils. I probably liked essential oils before you liked essential oils–after all, their popularity has recently increased significantly. But it is important to understand that there is no agency to regulate these oils. I will not name any brands here because I’m not out to start a war, but have you ever noticed that one popular company states “Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade” on their label? And did you ever notice the File:Copyright.svg immediately after that claim? There is no such thing as a “certified” oil because there are no recognized agencies to certify them. That claim is nothing more than a misleading slogan made up by the company–hence the copyright symbol. Another popular company states that their oils are “therapeutic grade”– and that claim is followed up by TM (trademark). At least they’re not trying to claim that their oils are “certified,” but I don’t know what “therapeutic grade” means, and the TM makes me doubt that it has any real meaning at all.

The other big thing that worries me about essential oils is that some companies recommend them for oral use. This recommendation flat-out scares me. Essential oils are pretty potent and most health care providers (both mainstream and alternative) agree that essential oils should never be used orally. Don’t let yourself be fooled–it is possible to overdose yourself (or worse, your child) with an essential oil. But don’t take my word for it on this one. The International Federation of Aromatherapists (which has been around for almost 30 years–much longer than either of the companies I referenced earlier) states in their code of ethics:

No aromatherapist shall use essential oils for internal ingestion or internal application nor shall any aromatherapist advocate or promote such use of essential oils unless the practicing aromatherapist has medical, naturopathic, herbalist, or similar qualifications and holds an insurance policy which specifically covers the internal application of essential oils. (IFA code of ethics. Simply Essential, No. 11 December 1993).

I’m not going to say that these companies don’t produce quality oils–they very well may. But that’s something I will never know from personal use because I feel like they purposely mislead their associates and their customers. I can’t buy into that.

In no way should any home remedy ever replace medical care when needed. Instead, consider using a home remedy on a malady that you would not seek medical care for anyway–common allergy problems, a cold, teething, mild diaper rash. Or, it’s probably fine to use a home remedy for more serious issues, but make sure your doctor knows your plans. Always consider that some home remedies can have poor interactions with prescribed medications. Your healthcare provider should always be fully aware of all medications you use, “natural” or not. I hope that you have a pediatrician who has similar beliefs to yours, one that you trust, and who will guide you down the right path while also keeping your preferences in mind.

Over-the-Counter Medications and Dosing Charts

All that said, here are some medication dosing charts that I have found to be quite useful. Always dose your young child according to weight, not age, when possible. And always check with your pediatrician for age limits and proper dosing before using any medication. I am not a doctor 🙂

We used simethicone and gripe water a lot for tummy issues when J was very little.

We sometimes use acetaminophen for teething and fever relief during the day. However, I always use ibuprofen if he needs something overnight, and I prefer it to acetaminophen overall. On days when I find that I have to provide J with constant pain medication, I alternate between the two. Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen Dosing Charts

For coughs, we have had some luck with Zarbee’s cough syrup and also with Little Remedies Honey Pops (never use any product with honey in it before 12 months).

For colds, we use a nasal spray and the NoseFrida to clear his little nose. I massage Vicks Baby Rub onto his chest and on the bottoms of his feet and that seems to help him sleep through the night. For particularly bad colds, I have been known to give ibuprofen (after 6 months) overnight (it certainly makes me feel better when I have a cold). We also use a cool mist humidifier.

Other medications you may need for your baby/toddler include diphenhydramine, loratadine, or cetirizine.

What are your medicine must-haves, whether OTC or alternative?

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3 comments on “Lesson 60: Drug your baby

  1. We have found that a spoonful of straight honey does wonders for a cough. Of course, you are supposed to wait until they are 12 months before you give honey.

  2. […] I wrote Lesson 60: Drug Your Baby, a friend of mine reminded me of one alternative treatment that can be used for a number of things: […]

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