Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Kids That Go Bump in the Night (or Day)

I remember the first time R rolled off the bed. One minute he was drifting off to sleep while nursing and the next minute - THUD! I awake to a piercing scream and find my baby face down on the floor. "I AM A TERRIBLE MOM!" - the words were stuck in my head like one of those songs you annoyingly keep singing despite best efforts  (Achy, Breaky Heart, anyone?). When Z was born, I was confident and almost cocky in my mothering abilities. I wasn't about to repeat the same mistake twice, oh no. We bought a bed rail and pushed the other side of the bed against the wall. When I travelled, I even put a mattress on the floor next to the bed, just in case she did, via some circus act, manage to make it to the floor. Guess what? She managed to roll off two connected twin beds, on to the mattress and then on to the floor under the bed. I found her a few minutes later on her elbows, under the bed, looking rather pleased with herself.  SERIOUSLY?!!! Point is that getting injured is a rite of a passage every child goes through at one point or another; no point beating your head against the wall (sorry couldn't resist!) and ditch the mommy guilt too please!

Bumps 'n' Bruises

Time to revisit our ol' friend, Arnica! Arnica is one of those things no one should be without. You can rub some ointment gently into the bruise a few times a day and you'll be amazed at how quickly the swelling goes down. Better yet, keep some in the fridge so you can attack the swelling from all fronts. You can also administer Arnica in tablet form (30C or 30X a few times a day) for very severe bruises similar to the egg shaped one R acquired in Gym class. Sigh. There are some other simple remedies you can try like using lavender oil and also ice of course. There's also a folk remedy my mom swears by which is a 1/4 tsp or so of Turmeric powder mixed in hot milk - it's supposed to heal deep injuries from within. The milk is the carrier because apparently Turmeric works best when mixed with high fat content foods - you could substitute the milk for something else that has similar properties. This works well for injuries to the bone. The herb Comfrey is also known to aid in healing of bones and muscles and can be used as an external soak for inflammation. Add some Epsom Salts to a hot bath (Magnesium Sulfate) and the heat combined with the properties of the salts will also aid in reducing any associated pain. My final remedy for aches and pains general is a rice sock - take an old cotton sock, fill it with uncooked rice, microwave and voila! You have a home made heat pack.

Here is the link to a post from a fellow mommy blogger who details the things to watch out for when your baby gets a bump on his/her head. Dizziness/concussion is an alarm bell and any signs that your child is behaving out of the ordinary after an injury should be treated seriously and addressed by a doctor. 

Cuts 'n' Scrapes

I've talked about Calendula being great for wounds before so I won't go on like a broken Billy Ray Cyrus record (tee hee). Clean the wound with some witch hazel or my favourite, California Baby's Boo Boo spray a.k.a diaper wash first because Calendula tends to seal wounds with alarming speed. In my embarrassing post about my cut lip, I also mentioned raw honey working well for cuts - it arrested the bleeding immediately so it's a good one for wounds that don't respond to pressure or ice. If after a cut, you notice bruising or inflammation around the wound, it is likely the wound is infected and you should have a doctor see it (although Calendula and honey will work to prevent infection so if you catch it in time, this should not happen).


Raw honey works equally well for burns. Another great homeopathic cream like Arnica & Calendula is Urtica Urens. Great for burns and has helped me avoid blisters if used immediately. Vitamin E oil (break open a capsule or buy the oil itself) can help prevent scarring and also helps in healing the skin. This is really for first degree burns only. For more severe burns, take your child to the doctor to be on the safe side and use homeopathy to help help with the healing. The more common remedies for burns (with a young child, symptoms will be difficult to determine however) are:

-- Cantharis (restlessness associated with burn, better from cold)
-- Hypericum (shooting pains in nerves)
-- Hepar Sulphuris Calcareum (infection associated with a burn)
-- Urtica Urens (stinging pain, worse from cold)

AOBs (Any Other Business..I have to use my Project Management skills somehow!)

-- For insect bites, try applying a drop of neat lavender oil (this is the only essential oil you can apply undiluted) directly on the bite. Also use a baking soda paste to help with itching.
-- For splinters, tape a piece of banana peel onto the affected area and leave for 5 mins. The properties of the peel are supposed to help draw the splinter out
-- For bee/wasp stings, try homeopathic Apis Mellifica especially if the area is hot and swollen.
-- For nosebleeds, try a pinch of organic Cayenne pepper on a moistened q tip. Doesn't sting much contrary to belief and works immediately. 

I'll leave you with a quote from one of my favourite Mr. Men stories, Mr. Bump ;-)

"The trouble was that Mr.Bump just could not help having little accidents. If there was something for Mr. Bump to bump into, he'd bump into it all right."


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"Doctor, Doctor I Can't Sleep At Night"


For all my sleep deprived readers, hang in there (and read my previous post ;))

What a Nightmare! The Importance of Sleep

If you have a child, you are familiar with insomnia. Period. (This one deserves a line of its own for dramatic effect, more a little later).

You're also very likely familiar with nightmares and have probably also experienced a night terror or two. The first time I met Mr. Night Terror up close and personal was when R was about 2. Needless to say I was a nervous wreck. What's not to fall apart about when you see your child screaming at the top of his lungs, completely oblivious to your reassurances and hugs and there's not a damn thing you can do about it?

Nightmares vs Night Terrors

Night Terrors
No recollection the morning after
Memory of having the bad dream and in fact will be able to discuss it

Eyes open but not awake

Comfort/touch does not help
Hugs and reassurance will soothe

Will often go back to deep sleep immediately after
Will likely need help getting back to sleep

Often during a night terror, your child will scream, seem very afraid and unfortunately there's not much you can do to help except ride the storm out - the good news is that it doesn't last long (although it seemed eternal to me) and it has no permanent effects on your child. The most important thing during a night terror is to make sure your child isn't in harm's way as he/she will not be alert enough to realize what is happening. Where you can be proactive is in preventing night terrors in the first place primarily by ensuring your child isn't overtired. Another trick my pediatrician taught me that applies to different types of  'night wakings' is to study their pattern i.e. what time of the night does it usually happen, do certain foods (common culprit is caffeine) trigger it? If you notice the night terrors happen at a particular time every night, wake your child 10 minutes before and get him/her out of bed either to take a bathroom break or to get a glass of water. Night terrors may also be more common when children are sick. 

With nightmares, reassuring your child is the best course of action. Hug your child and help him/her get back to sleep. Talk abut the nightmare the next day and teach your child how to handle it. My love affair with 'tools' started with this very issue - I want my children to be confident, independent and able to tackle their fears (can you tell I was a scared-y cat when I was young?!) so I started coming up with different ways to 'arm' them. One I like especially is positive imagery i.e. replacing the negative image (monster, shadow etc) with a positive one (ice cream, playground, smiley face). You'd be surprised to hear how much children need to feel in control of their lives - equipping them with these tools allows them to do just that and chances are they will use them well into their adult lives. 

Another thing to watch out for that applies to both night terrors and nightmares is limiting the amount of exposure your child has to potentially scary images via television, movies and video games - especially if you have a sensitive child. It takes a bit of detective work to figure out what constitutes scary for your child but it's worth it in my opinion. For e.g. R has been scared of people in costumes since he was a toddler but I only recently discovered that it is the mask part of the costume that he is afraid of. Interesting, no?


So back to the point about ensuring your child has had adequate sleep. Lack of sleep (in my humble opinion) is one of those things that is most underrated in the world of parenting - I have been on both sides of the fence i.e. have let my kids stay up late when they didn't seem sleepy and also seen the difference when they had a consistent, early bed time. Trust me when I say the difference is eye opening! The consistency allows their body clocks to ring when it's time to sleep and the earliness means they get good quality sleep and also enough of it. I am posting below what is considered 'enough' on average but the point to note here is not to get hung up on the # but to use it as a guide along with your observations of your child in the morning (warning signs are crankiness, not easily woken in the morning, falling asleep in the car, complaints of being tired):

Total Sleep (inc naps)
Birth - 2 months
3 - 11 months
1-3 years
3-6 years

6-10 years

10-17 years

Again, this is only a guide and the real test should be watching your little (or not so little) one for cues. In my case, my kids have always, God help me, been early risers :-) They will wake at around 6:30am come rain or shine - I learnt very quickly that the only way they would get enough sleep was if I put them to bed early. So at the ages of 4 and 6, both my kids sleep at 7:30 and wake at 6:30 without a nap. A little on the lower side for Z but she will sometimes wake 1/2 hour or so later than her brother (provided he stays quiet enough after he wakes). 

Can I just take a mommy minute to say that lovely as this all sounds, I AM EXHAUSTED!!

OK, now that I have that out of my system, on to some natural ways to enhance your child's sleep experience. BTW if you are breast feeding, you can try these yourself as well to reap the benefits indirectly.

~ Passion Flower Tea (for children over 1 year): Passion Flower is known for its sedative and calming properties. Brew up a cup and have your child sip on it as part of your night time routine. Also effective is Chamomile tea.
~ Rescue Sleep (for children over 1 year): a derivative of Rescue Remedy which I've spoken about in several posts. It contains 6 flower essences that all help promote relaxation.
~ Essential Oils (safe for babies): use our old friends, Lavender and Roman Chamomile on your child's pillow or PJ's to soothe fears. 
~ Massage (wonderfully safe for babies!) - use Olive Oil after a bath and gently massage your child's tummy, back and feet. Add oils above to double the dose of relaxation.
~ Lullabies/White Noise (much needed for babies!): I LOVE Music Together lullabies but try any soothing music. Also useful is turning on a fan outside your child's room to create 'white noise' i.e drown out other sounds from the house like a loud TV for e.g. 
~ Foods containing Melatonin: cherries, flax seed, fennel, green cardamom (make tummy tea!).
~ Avoid giving your child caffeine a couple of hours before bedtime (i.e. chocolate!).
~ Avoid too much sugar before bedtime (did I mention chocolate?).
~ Switch off the TV, video game console and computer a couple of hours before bedtime.
~ Look into a consultation with a professional homeopath to address any underlying issues if the problem is long term.

“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?”  Ernest Hemingway


Saturday, April 14, 2012

In One Ear Out the Other, Please! The Guide to Childhood Ear Infections

Ear infections - ugh! What a nightmare thing for a child of any age to go through. The worst thing? When one measly ear infection develops into a chronic case and the bacteria eventually become antibiotic resistant leading to an endless cycle of stress and frustration. Do not despair however, there is hope! Easy hope too, not the hard kind where you have to give something up to get results :-)

First stop - you guessed it, start attacking the infection with Echinacea and Vitamin C or whatever immunity booster you prefer. Remember to dose every hour for the first couple of days and then you can decrease the dosage to a few times in a day. Echinacea loses its effectiveness if you give it for too long so dose up to a week and then give it a rest. You can use it preventatively but using the 1 week on, 1 week off rule. More often that not, ear infections are the result of an extended cold..the excess mucus/fluid in the nose backs up into the ear and then builds up which becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and hence an infection. So get to it, and fast!!

Second and more importantly, get yourself some Garlic Mullein Oil. Trust me, it's your best friend during an ear infection. No, make that your *only* friend. This wonderful compound is basically an infusion of garlic and Mullein flowers in olive oil. The garlic serves as an antibiotic and mullein is known for its soothing properties and for reducing inflammation. Warm the oil by placing the bottle in hot water for a few minutes. Test the oil (no burns, thank you!) on the back of your hand and then drop a few drops in the affected ear. For maximum effect, you can plug the ear with a cotton ball. Repeat several times during the day. I promise you, it will work! I cured Z's ear infection with just this and hourly doses of Echinacea. Note that this is for an ear drum that is NOT perforated. For an ear drum that has ruptured (and this should be confirmed by your pediatrician) you don't want to drop anything in the ear as it needs to be kept dry. Look at the section on homeopathic remedies below for a perforated ear drum.

For those of you who do not have access to ready made Garlic Mullein Oil, even cloves of garlic infused in olive oil will help. Just cook (on very low heat) a couple of crushed garlic cloves for a few minutes in about 1/2 cup of olive oil. Let it steep for about an hour and strain through a coffee filter. Since this is made from fresh garlic, try to use it within the week.

Back home in Pakistan, we are always told to keep warm when sick. I know that there is a lot of literature out there that refutes this but there is something to be said for changing the body's internal temperature drastically. Remember how fevers kill off harmful bacteria via heat? The corollary is that they thrive in the cold. 

If the combination of Echinacea and Garlic Mullein doesn't do the didn't do it properly!! hehe. No, seriously, these 2 things really should be sufficient for an average ear infection but you need to do it regularly and keep it up for at least a week. There are some homeopathic remedies for ear infections too and I've noted some of the more common ones below (for instructions on using homeopathy, see post on teething)

-- Belladonna: intense, throbbing pain that comes on suddenly. The ear will be red and your child will have high fever (usually over 102) and emanate heat. Face may be flushed.
-- Chamomilla: a child that is screaming with pain, finding it intolerable, will need this remedy. Better momentarily when carried around. One cheek red, the other pale.
-- Hepar Sulphuris Calcareum: usually used in later stages of infection. The ear produces discharge and has pus and the patient will be very irritable and sensitive especially to cold.
-- Mercurius: ruptured ear drum, green and foul smelling discharge ear. You'll find sensitivity to temperatures (both hot and cold), offensive breath and excessive salivation & sweating.
-- Pulsatilla: like I mentioned in the teething post, a Pulsatilla child is usually clingy and craves affection. There is yellow/green discharge from the nose or ears and he/she will usually be better from being outside.

If your child has a ruptured ear drum, keep it warm and dry. That means no swimming and when bathing keep the ears covered with a shower cap or plug it with a cotton wool coated with non petroleum jelly. For more on why petroleum/mineral oil aren't the greatest things for your skin and what alternatives to use, see a great post on

Another tried and tested remedy from a friend was to put some raw, chopped onion in a cotton sock or wrapped up in muslin and hold against the ear for instant relief! You can also use the reflexology points for the ear and massage with olive oil several times during the day, see the chart for the correct one.

"Ears" to good health!


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Your Children Want YOU!

Your Children Want YOU! What a wonderful, inspirational message. There is really nothing more to say than read this blog post and go give your kids a hug!

To all my readers - you are all wonderful, creative, unique and amazing! Don't ever let anyone *ever* tell you otherwise!


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tackling Tummy Bugs

We've all been there. That moment when it truly dawns on you that not only are you a parent to your children but often a very convenient receptacle for them to throw up in. Ah yes, the joys of parenthood! Thankfully, there are some really effective remedies out there that work quickly and effectively to tackle stomach infections, most of which you either have in your kitchen or can easily procure.

Tummylicious Tea

My mom's recipe for instant relief! Not being one to really adhere to exact proportions (except when I'm baking) I usually just throw in a handful each of:

-- Cardamom seeds (black is better but green will do)
-- Fennel seeds
-- Fresh mint (dried can work too)

Boil in clean, filtered water and then let it brew for 5-10 minutes. Voila! You have an instant fix for diarrhoea and children will love it because it smells and tastes yummy! Safe enough for a baby and not toxic in large amounts so you can dose throughout the day. For a baby I would give a teaspoon or so several times a day. For an older child, you can sweeten with honey and give as much as they'll take. You can also add some freshly grated ginger, especially if your child has abdominal cramps as ginger has anti-spasmodic properties.

Raw Honey (not for children under 1)

I've mentioned raw honey in several previous posts and so I'm sure you can tell by now that I love the stuff! Won't bore you with the detail again but the short of it is to give your child raw honey by the teaspoon several times a day and let it work its magic.


Probiotics are an essential part of any healthy tummy and aid in the replenishing of the intestinal flora which can get depleted through use of antibiotics. Go for Greek, plain yoghurt or kefir which is a fermented milk drink and has even more of a punch when it comes to that friendly bacteria we need.

Some BRAT for your brat

The BRAT diet is a well known approach to dealing with gastroenteritis and consists of adding bananas, rice, apple sauce and toast to your diet for a few days. While this is not recommended as the sole diet during a tummy bug, it can be incorporated along side other neutral foods like clear broths, yoghurt as mentioned above and potatoes to gently nourish the stomach while it's recovering. If your child is actively vomiting and cannot even retain water or liquids, you should concentrate on preventing dehydration first and then move to solids. While we're talking about diet, there are some foods you should avoid giving your child when he/she has a tummy bug, primarily dairy but also processed, sugary foods that weaken the immune system and prevent efficient healing.

Home made ORS

A child that is vomiting or has diarrhoea not only needs to be kept hydrated through constant water intake but also needs replenishment of lost electrolytes which are essential for a healthy functioning body. Over the counter ORS is usually laden with unnecessary chemicals and you can just as easily make one at home that serves the purpose and is good for your child too. The following is a WHO recommended ORS which gets the glucose/sodium balance correct but I have added some OJ which will also replenish Potassium.

Measure 1/2 tsp of salt into a large jug. Add 1 tsp of baking soda (not baking powder!). Add 6 tsp of brown or unbleached white sugar. Measure in 8 oz of orange juice. Add water up to the 1 litre mark and stir to combine.

Administer throughout the day and safe for babies too. 

Other useful therapies

-- Chamomile tea: also aids in relaxing the stomach and nerves!
-- Essential oils like German/Roman Chamomile, Lavender and Peppermint massaged onto the chest 
-- Look into homeopathic remedies such as Veratrum Album (cold sweat, very weak), Arsenicum Album (restless, burning stools, cause often spoiled meat), Colocynthis (cramps make your child double over and pressure helps), Podophyllum (watery, explosive and painless stools that are preceded by rumbling in the tummy).
-- Reflexology: see post on Constipation for relevant points on foot to massage

Most importantly, stay calm and keep your child calm too! Use Lavender, Rescue Remedy and Chamomile tea to help both of you relax. 

This too shall pass (literally)!


Thursday, April 5, 2012

When Your Child is Sick - Useful Guide

Short post for today; wanted to share a great article (click on link to access)  I came across on a post on the Raising Natural Kids Blog  that provides some general guidelines around what to do when your child is sick (and how not to panic!). Mirrors a lot of the techniques and suggestions I have outlined in various posts but thought this was a great all round tool to have at hand.

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Fighting the Natural War against Cavities

Z has cavities :-( Naturally (haha!) I didn't want to drill and fill so I went on a bit of a mission to find some way to heal them without a trip to the dentist. Enter Dr. Weston Price. For those of you unfamiliar, Dr. Price recommended maintaining healthy teeth through diet, namely the addition of Vitamin D through raw dairy and bone broths and the removal of grains from our diets. He also advocated the use of cod liver oil and butter oil which synergistically act to nourish teeth and help them remineralize. Remineralization - now that's a term you will not hear at a dentist's office primarily because most dentists don't believe a cavity can be reversed :-) Always one to fight the norm, I set out to see if I could prove them wrong. (that sounds awful; my real motive was definitely improving my daughter's dental health, honest!)

Step 1: Research on the best cod liver oil supplement out there. Verdict? Green Pasture. They have a variety of products on their website and you can read some more about the importance of cod liver oil as well as Vits A & D for healthy teeth.

Step 2: Find a way to get the fishy (!) stuff into my daughter's unusually, firmly closed and unable-to-pry-open mouth. The first attempt ended in chocolate-y, fishy, goo all over my nice clean kitchen floor. Hmm..if I'm going to justify spending $40 (yes it is expensive but a little goes a long way as I later learnt) every so often on a jar of this super food, I'm going to have to do better than that. Enter my saviour.. apple sauce! Mixed 1/2 tsp in a tablespoon full of it and lo and behold, it actually stayed in her mouth and off the floor! 

Step 3: Keep the routine going every day for a couple of there's the real challenge! I need to stock up on apple sauce and be very diligent about cleaning my spoons because I need one for getting the oil out, another to scoop out the apple sauce and a third to mix them together. Why you ask? Well if your child is even 1/4 as fussy as Z, you will not be able to get away with a speck of that oil in the tub of apple sauce or on the spoon that is eventually used to finish the tub to drown out the taste!

Soooo..I will chronicle my journey to reverse Z's cavities in this post. So far I'm about 10 days into it and have noticed a couple of interesting things. Firstly, the last cold Z had did *not* develop into a cough. For those of you who have read my post about coughs, you know that every cold she has goes to her chest. Not this one, yay! Secondly, she has to some extent lessened what my ped. called 'mouthing' i.e. putting random, yucky things in her mouth. And when I say yucky, I mean really yucky! I have heard that mouthing can be related to deficiencies..some say zinc, others calcium and my pediatrician said possibly iron as well. I am thinking then that perhaps this high vitamin oil might actually be bridging some of those. Fascinating, no? Did I tell you I LOVE natural remedies? Especially when they work ;-)

I will keep you posted. 

Meanwhile, may *you* never need a dentist!