This winter has hit our house hard with illness and we aren't even half way through it yet. I know the average child brings home about 7-10 colds per year but we are already sitting at about 5 in the last two months. Mckenna attends a home daycare and also has swimming lessons and attends Kindermusik classes, so she is exposed to a lot of other kids and their germs. She is also a thumb sucker and still likes to put toys in her mouth, which I think adds to the near constant colds and sickness. Once we are over one cold we get about a week or two before the next one hits.
Even though we feel like we are losing the battle over in our house, I still wanted to share all the things we do to try to keep her healthy. Below are the top seven tips for keeping your kids healthy this winter.
1) Vitamin D
This is a vitamin we are often lacking here in Canada, specifically her in Ontario our winters are gloomy with very little sunshine. I think most of us are lacking this vitamin and although you can try to achieve adequate levels with fish (salmon is particularly a good one) and even fortified foods like milk, the chances of you hitting a good level of vitamin D are slim. We have been supplementing Mckenna since the day she was born. It was recommended in the hospital to us, since I was exclusively breastfeeding she wouldn't be getting enough vitamin D through my milk. Formula fed babies have the advantage here, with vitamin D right in their milk.
There have been many clinical studies published on the benefits of vitamin D for improving immunity. If you do a quick google search you can find more details on this. One interesting study that I found within the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Journal was discussing the crucial role that Vitamin D plays in immunity with the common cold, including increased prevention and also decreasing the duration of colds and the flu. I encourage you to do your own research, but for us this has been key for not only Mckenna but both Chauncey and I.
We link this brand, and we drop it right in her mouth and she takes it with no issues. You could also add it to your child's water bottle or food if need be.
2) Elderberry Syrup
Now this was one item that was recommended to me by one of my best friends and also a new friend I met on Instagram. If you have the time you can actually make your own and I found a recipe here for you. If you don't have that kind of time, I suggest this organic brand. Luckily for us Mckenna likes the taste and once again easily takes this. It's recommended to take when currently fighting a cold, not necessarily daily or as a preventative like Vitamin D.
Once again a quick google search will show you the clinical data backing this powerful herbal syrup. There have only been a few small clinical trails done and to be honest I think more research needs to be completed to have me fully supporting this as a cold and flu fighter. That said, it has no real side effects so if it does help cut her cold in half I'm going to try it.
3) Essential Oils
I know essential oils are all the rage right now and there are so many companies out there. Its important to do your own research into the brands before you buy them. For us we have narrowed it to down to two, the first is Germ Destroyer by Plant Therapy, both the oil to diffuse and the roller for the bottom of her feet. The second is Thieves by Young Living diluted for the bottom of her feet. I didn't find a ton of scientific research on these oils, but again my opinion is it doesn't hurt her and potentially can help, why not try it?
Gut health is so important in general, and I think it's especially important during the cold/flu season. Once again there have been many clinical studies done supporting the use of probiotics, however there is still more evidence needed when it comes to children and probiotics. The general idea with probiotics is that they help your body replenish good bacteria that assists in a healthy digestive system as well as improving immunity. The brand we have been using is Genestra HMF and if you look at the reviews you will see it's a popular one.
Mckenna was just diagnosed with a double ear infection today and shes on her first dose of antibiotics in her life. Antibiotics can strip the gut of good bacteria so it's even more important to give a probiotic. I've actually doubled up her dose for the next 10 days while she is on this medication.
Our winters are long, cold and very very dry. We try to use Mckenna's humidifier every night but we do forget some nights. When she is sick, we use it every single night. Cool mist humidifiers have been shown to ease symptoms of colds and help with respiratory issues. I registered for this one when I was pregnant and luckily someone did purchase it for me.
I will put a word of caution here. We started using a humidifier in our own room a few years ago, and me being me I didn't really read the instructions fully. I just kept adding water and running it...never cleaning it. Well a few weeks after using it, Chauncey developed flu like symptoms and was really sick. Once again google to the rescue and sure enough I was basically poisoning my husband! You have to dump the water every single day and clean the entire unit with vinegar weekly. If not you can develop what Chauncey got, humidifier fever. It's real and it's scary! He suffered from asthma as a child, he also smoked for nearly twenty years so his lungs are not as strong as mine. He'll hate that I wrote that! But truthfully people who develop humidifier fever usually are asthma and allergy suffers and he no longer has asthma or smokes, but he has horrible allergies. Be careful and definitely clean your humidifiers!
A few weeks ago we had a home visit from a doctor. I know can you believe this service exists? If you are local to me (Paris, Ontario) this company is amazing and it's free. They have nurse practitioners that do house calls, a full exam is completed and then they Skype in the doctor to discuss the case. Mckenna at the time had a horrible cough and I was worried that she needed something more than the herbal remedies I had been giving her. It was determined to be viral so not much we could really do. The one thing that the nurse practitioner did mention was using honey to help with her cough. Chauncey had been giving her a mixture of honey and cinnamon every time she had a cold or cough. The nurse practitioner mentioned that there are scientific studies that show honey can help with cold and coughing symptoms. It was nice to know that Chauncey's home remedy was really one of the best options to be giving her. Just note that children under the age of one can not have honey.
7) Epsom Salt Baths
We have been adding Epsom salts to Mckenna's baths for a few months now. We first started to add the salts to her bath as we had read that it could help with constipation, which it has. Epsom salts are also proven to help with muscle soreness, which can be a side effect of the common cold. It's really important to make sure you use high quality Epsom salts and also that your child is well hydrated before and after their bath.
Well there you have it! My top natural remedies to help fight colds this season. I am rooting for you and your family to stay healthy. May the odds be ever in your favor.