Back to school season has begun which of course means that your older children are bringing a whole bunch of school germs home and passing them off to your younger children.To make matters worse, temperatures are beginning to drop which not only means that Starbucks is finally selling pumpkin spice lattes again… but it also means cold season is officially upon us.
In our household we try to approach everything from a homeopathic route before we get doctors involved (assuming its nothing major). Nine times out of ten we are effective and since researching more natural cold remedies, we have actually been able to significantly reduce both how often we get sick and the duration of colds in our house. With a wild five year old boy getting into everything and bringing his germs home to my one year old daughter, it’s important that I stay up on cold prevention and solutions both for my family’s sake and for my own (because we all know moms don't get "days off" for being sick).
So that being said, my top 5 natural cold remedies are:
I’ve found that if I put a humidifier in every bedroom as soon as the first signs of a cold show themselves I can usually cut the duration of the cold in half. Prior to doing this we would all catch a cold and it would linger for weeks, keeping us all up at night miserable and congested. The humidifier keeps everyone sleeping more comfortably and seems to really help the cold come to an end sooner. If it’s a particularly rough cold, buy the Vicks Vapor Pads to insert into your humidifier and thank me later!
2. Essential oil steam.
Whether you believe in the power of oils or not, this tried and true method has helped everyone I know find some immediate cold relief. You don’t need the expensive fancy oils to try this, all you need are some cheap store bought oils (amazon, whole foods, and sprouts all have them). My favorites for a cold are Eucalyptus, Rosemary, and Peppermint. Put several drops of each on the walls of the shower as well as on a towel. Put the towel somewhere in the shower (I like to hang it from my shower caddy). Close the bathroom doors and windows and let the room fill with the oil scented steam. You can either be in or out of the shower for this but it is most effective when standing in the actual shower (for young children however do this without the child in the shower due to the high heat of the water. Sitting in the steam filled bathroom for 10-15 minutes will be enough). Within a matter of minutes you will be breathing easier. Just make sure to never apply non-diluted oil directly to skin and to always look up safe oil practices before using.
3. Replace baby’s pacifiers.
I actually made a blog post earlier this year about the importance of changing out pacifiers often to reduce sickness. This is even more important when baby has a cold. All pacifiers need to be disposed of and replaced to prevent the cold from returning or lingering. Check out the blog post here for more information on the importance of replacing pacifiers!
4. Nasal Aspirator.
You know those green bulb things that you get in the hospital when your baby is born for pulling congestion out of their nose? If you’ve ever tried using one, you’ve probably been about as ineffective with it as I have. The better solution? Nasal Aspirators like this one. Yeah, yeah, I know. The idea of literally sucking snot out of your baby’s nose sounds disgusting. However I assure you that this completely sanitary invention will help clear out baby’s nose while ensuring none of the snot actually touches you. I’m a total germaphobe and even I have no problem using this. The most effective way to do it is to squirt some baby saline up baby's nose, suck those boogies out, and have some tissues nearby just in case you need a little extra backup. Baby might look less than happy at first but will be breathing SO much better as soon as you’re finished! This is especially helpful to do pre-feeding if baby is too congested to eat.
5. Vapor Rub.
This is so effective that my son literally begs for it when he’s sick. Vicks makes a kid/baby specific version that can be found just about anywhere and offers so much relief that even I use it every time I’m sick. My favorite “mom hack” is putting it on your little one’s feet and covering with socks. This is always so effective at calming down a bad cough in the middle of the night. The only catch is that you will want to talk to your doctor before doing this on any child under the age of 2!
***Of course when dealing with colds be sure to seek professional medical attention whenever necessary. Educate yourself on any serious signs to watch for and always always always play it safe, especially when dealing with children under 2. Not sure how serious it is? Just give your doctor a call, that's what they're there for!