Safe, effective remedies for common first-year ailments
Diarrhea and constipation
Symptoms Acute or chronic diarrhea: suddenly passing lots of watery stools (this kind is usually caused by infection) or passing smaller amounts of loose stools. Constipation: hard stools that are painful to pass or infrequent bowel movements.
• Mild diarrhea: Eliminate juice; give plenty of water, chamomile tea, mashed bananas, plain yogurt or Pedialyte. Acute diarrhea: Switch from milk-based formula to a dairy-free type, such as soy. If you're breastfeeding, do not stop.
• Give a few ounces of half-strength prune, apple or pear juice a few times a day to infants under 6 months who are constipated; older babies can have more juice as well as fiber.
• Probiotics may help restore intestinal function in cases of diarrhea and constipation.
Do Not Use the herb senna, anti-diarrheal medications, laxatives, suppositories or enemas.
When To Call The Pediatrician If diarrhea is accompanied by apparent cramping, abdominal pain, fever or bloody stools; if your baby shows signs of dehydration, such as infrequent urination, sunken eyes or doughy skin; if an infant hasn't had a bowel movement in two or three days, especially if he is being breastfed.
Colds and croup
Symptoms Colds: congestion, coughing or runny nose. Croup: an alarming "barking" cough that usually lasts three days. Both are caused by viruses, so antibiotics won't help. A fever under 100° F probably doesn't need to be treated if your child is behaving normally.
• Use saline solution and a bulb syringe to reduce nasal congestion.
• Put one drop of eucalyptus oil in a vaporizer or add one drop to bath water. Or mix a drop with almond or vegetable oil and rub on your baby's chest or blanket (avoid contact with his face). Note: Eucalyptus oil is toxic if ingested.
• Slice and warm a yellow onion (see "Ear Infections," pg. 64) and apply to your baby's chest to relieve coughing.
• If coughing is "productive," mix 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger with 1 teaspoon Vaseline, rub on baby's chest and cover with a T-shirt.
• Give lots of fluids, limit dairy and increase vitamin C sources. If you're breastfeeding, alter your own diet in the same way.
• If your baby has croup, dress him warmly and take him outside; cool night air can break up phlegm, shrink inflamed membranes and calm coughing spasms.
• Hold and soothe your child; this will help restore normal breathing patterns.
Do Not Use goldenseal or grapefruit seed extract.
When To Call The Pediatrician If a baby under 3 months old has a rectal temperature over 100.4° F; if your baby has trouble breathing and/or makes a high-pitched sound when he breathes. Make the call as you prepare to go to the nearest emergency room.