I've been working over the past few weeks to collect everything we will need for the upcoming cold/flu/random yuck season, I think I have nearly everything! I know it's always helpful to see what other mamas have found to work, so I thought I would share some of our (thoroughly tested) ways of staying out of the doctor's office. Bobby has been diagnosed with asthma, so we take colds very seriously here, because they quickly settle into his lungs...we are fortunate enough to have a nebulizer and the medicine for it for emergencies, but of course that is a last resort! If you have any other good suggestions please share in the comments! Remember though, this is just what works for our family, so please use common sense when dealing with sickness and seek professional help if you need too!
Staying healthy in the first place!
Of course this isn't always possible, but we do everything we can to not get sick in the first place! Here are somethings we have found helpful...
- Reducing exposure to germs. In the fall and winter I try to work out child care (usually with my mama or a helpful sister!) for grocery shopping days. There are three little sets of hands touching germ covered surfaces, and despite my best efforts those hands always wind up in eyes, ears, noses, and mouths. So it's a simple one really to just reduce what they are exposed to! If I hear something nasty is going around I'm especially careful.
- Wash, wash, wash! I keep germ-x or baby wipes in the car and as soon as we are all buckled into our seats we scrub our hands. This helps keep the germs out of our house and makes a difference I swear by...if we don't do this, we *always* get sick. Mamas- keep an eye on your purse too! We often set it on the floor of our cars and in shopping carts and on counters in public places and then come home only to set it on the table/sofa/kitchen counter/bed. (I swear I'm not a germaphobe, I just really dislike having a house of sick people!!)
- Healthy food. I try to make sure that we are eating a really nourishing diet during these cold months. We do a lot of hearty soups and stews with homemade broth, lots of garlic and onions in everything, and as many veggies as I can convince my picky eaters to consume. At the same time we cut way back on sugar (which squashes your immune system) and dairy (which I find makes us "junkier"). It's also a lovely thing that oranges are in season and packed with vitamin C, my kids will literally eat as many as I will buy, so I make sure we always have a good supply for snacks.
- Stay warm! Socks are not optional from October-April. We layer, wear wool, sleep with hot rice bags, consume warm foods and did I mention wear wool?
We do what we can but inevitably, we all get sick. Whether it's a junky cold or a sinus infection (I'm particularly prone to these) or the dreaded flu, I go at it with guns blazing, doing whatever we can to cut them short and make them less dreadful.
Colds, flus and sinus infections
This is where those pictures above really apply! I am a HUGE believer in teas to treat sickness and ailments. I stock up and we plow through it...the health food shop people look at me like I'm crazy, but I don't mind since I know it's this or weeks of sickness! I'm also a firm believer in honey, since reading an interesting study comparing common cough medicines with buckwheat (a very dark) honey. I can't find the specific study right now, but it is mentioned on This site, and here is the general conclusion: (my notes are not italicized)
"The results of this study demonstrate that in the overall comparison of the 3 (one dose of buckwheat honey before bed, one dose of DM/dextromethorphan before bed, or no treatment) treatment groups, honey was the most effective treatment for all of the outcomes related to cough, child sleep, and parent sleep. Furthermore, honey not DM, was superior to no treatment for nocturnal symptoms associated with childhood URI (Upper Respiratory Inffections)."
I am having a hard time finding buckwheat honey locally this year, but I might have found a source...I'm waiting to hear back now. Our must have cold/flu season teas are.... (Assume we drink them all with lots of honey! Remember it is generally suggested to avoid giving honey to children under two.)
- Twinings Lemon & Ginger -there are several lemon and ginger teas available, and while they are all good and helpful, this one is certainly the best! It's delicious on it's own, but we drink it with lots of honey.
- Yogi Echinacea Immune Support
- Yogi Breathe Easy
- Traditional Medicinals Breathe Easy
- Traditional Medicinals Cold Care P.M.
- Traditional Medicinals "Just for kids" line
- Organic Peppermint -good for sick tummies of course, but I find it really helps my kids first thin in the morning when they are dealing with the side effects of post nasal yuck...Jenny is especially prone to loosing the queasiness battle and starting every day with vomit is not my first choice!
- Organic Chamomile with lavender -also good for tummies and for when we need to just rest and sleep off the cold. I make it and dilute it half tea half water for Nomi. As a side note, we also use this tea to help with gassy tummies and constipation, it turns shrieking, screaming babies into much, much happier people almost instantly!
Other things we find helpful...
- Homemade eucalyptus rub -we use the recipe found in Rhythm of Family by Amanda Soule you might notice it missing in the pictures, but that's because I'm waiting for our fresh batch to set up! I'll share pictures later. :) I apply it liberally to the upper chest area and place a flannel scrap over it to keep it from feeling sticky, and I think the extra step holds some of those magical healing properties that mamas can bring to the table...like a pillow case full of kisses and special bedtime braids...not very scientific but very important... you know the things I mean.
- Pineapple juice -I'm normally not a juice fan, but when I have a sinus infection I drink a lot of pineapple juice! The enzymes help reduce swelling and that helps remove a great deal of the pressure. Just make sure your juice doesn't have anything added to it!
- Cold-eeze Lozenges -we like the honey & lemon flavor! Start taking at the first sign of a cold, or I'll start as soon as my kids start showing signs. It generally shortens colds by several days! They are packed full of zinc and most importantly, they work!
- Ricola cough drops -again we like the Honey Lemon flavor. I have tried a few different recipes for homemade lozenges, but something goes terribly wrong and I wind up with very exciting kinds of mold that I'm sure do nothing to help coughing. ;)
- Emergen-C drink packs. They have 1,000mg of vitamin C, and come in so many flavors that everyone can find one they like. If a child is especially sick and needs to be coerced into taking anything, these are a great option because the fizziness makes them seem like more of a treat than medicine.
- Vick's vaporizer and Vapo Steam -We just have the basic one we can find at WalMart or Target, and the vapo steam really helps. Easy to set up and use and they make a huge difference in whether or not we need to give Bobby a breathing treatment.
Obviously there are other ailments we deal with regularly (fevers, earaches, stomach bugs etc.) but I'll save those for another post (soon!). I hope this is of some help to you this fall and winter! Please leave anything you find to be helpful in the comments section. :)