“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” - Hippocrates
When you are looking for herbal remedies for children you want to make sure that they are totally safe. Luckily, there are a number of herbs out there that are easily taken by children and are safe to use. We give you 8 of the best that are invaluable to mums with their new babies and toddlers.
Children will quite happily drink whatever is given to them, as long as it is not bitter. If you find that there is a herbal tea that you want them to take, but they won't do so, then try sweetening it with a little organic honey, or you can add some liquorice root to preparations for colds and flu for example, or even peppermint for digestive upsets.
You will find too, that if you involve the child in picking the berries, leaves or flowers of the herb that you want to give them, they will be far more readily eager to try it, then say getting them to swallow a pill or some other pharmaceutical liquid preparation.
These are useful herbs that one can use for children's remedies and are readily available from your local health shop or can also be purchased online, if you don't have them in your gardens at the moment. Remember, herbs are easy plants to grow, and if you don't have the right soil, or you live in an apartment, they are perfect to grow in containers on balconies or even inside on the windowsill.
Aniseed: A herb that will settle indigestion and colic and is also good for fighting colds. Take half a teaspoon of the seeds, crush them and boil in 2 cups of water until the water goes brown. This happens in about 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat, strain off the seeds and allow the water to cool. For babies less than 6 months old give them 3 drops, every 3 to 4 hours for the treatment of colic and indigestion. For babies up to a year you can double the dose. Although anise is very safe to use in this form, never feed your baby or toddler the seeds themselves as the oil from the seeds in high dosages can be toxic to toddlers and babies.
Calendula: A strong infusion or tea of calendula flowers can be used as a lotion to apply to nappy rash, cracked nipples, or a surgical wound. Dab onto some cotton wool and apply to the affected area. Allow it to air dry.
This herbal tea can also be drunk to help with the cleansing and healing of the uterus and is valuable if there was any medical intervention needed during childbirth such as the use of forceps or a Ceasarian.
Catnip: It isn't just cats that benefit from this herb, children do too. Make a tea to ease colic, inducing sleep and helping with colds. You can find dried catnip online or in health shops. Or, if you grow your own catnip you can pick and dry it accordingly. Take 2 teaspoons of dried catnip place in a cup of boiling water and allow to steep for 10 minutes before using. For babies less than 6 months old, give 1 teaspoon every 3 to 4 hours. For babies up to a year you can double the dose.
Chamomile: This is known as the queen of herbs in the nursery. It is well known for its soothing effects. It can soothe any digestive complaints as well as helping with fretful sleeps or easing toothache. This is a herb that is readily found in your supermarket in tea bag form. Get organic chamomile, if possible. If you are lucky enough to have this herb growing in the garden then you will be able to make some excellent herbal remedies from it. Brew a tablespoon of flowers in a cup or two of boiling water and allow to cool. You can give a colicky baby a couple of teaspoons. This will also help settle a fretful baby, or one suffering from toothache when teething.
Rose hips: Rose hips are freely available during late autumn early winter, and are usually perfect to pick just after the first lot of frost. These are one of nature's best free foods around as the red berries formed from the wild roses that have flowered in the spring and summer, are rich with Vitamin C, and perfect to ward off winter colds and to use as a cough syrup.
The Vitamin C content is 20 - 40 times more potent than that of oranges, and they are also rich in Vitamins B, E, K and calcium. In herbal medicine you are usually using the rose hips that come from the common wild dog roses (rosa canina) that you will see lining fields and found in hedgerows.
Take 2 cups of dried rose hips and and put them through a small grinder so that they are reduced to powder. The place 2 teaspoons of the dried hips and add 2 cups of boiling water to them. Steep for 10 minutes. Now place in a saucepan and reduce the liquid to half so that you now only have 1 cup. Add 4 tablespoons of honey to the hot liquid and place back on the heat and bring to the boil. Once boiled remove from heat and pour into a bottle. Cap and place in fridge and keep up to 6 months. Give your child 1 teaspoon when the cough is bad.
To prevent a cold from forming, give your child rose hip tea regularly. Add honey as a sweetener, rather than sugar.
Geraniums: Cracked nipples are sore and a total nightmare for a new nursing mother. Instead of giving up and going out and buying feeding bottles, got out and get yourself some geraniums. Using geranium leaves on sore nipples is an old home remedy. Apply the furry side of any geranium leaf to the sore nipple for almost instant relief.
It is quite safe to put the baby to the nipple directly afterwards, although you may find that baby doesn't like the smell of the plant, so you may have to wash the breast first. Applying calendula ointment is also good for sore and cracked nipples.
Lemon Balm: When you feel a little fretful and frazzled after being up all night with baby, a cup of lemon balm tea will help make you feel relaxed and ready to go again. It has a pleasant lemon flavor and does not affect your milk in any way. We have all had those days when you just want to scream. This is totally normal. However, you don't want it to get out of hand, so make yourself a nice cuppa, try and put your feet up and relax and de-stress.
Nettles: Nettle tea is very high in the minerals iron, calcium and silica. For the new mum 2-3 cups of nettle tea will help in those early days to prevent extreme exhaustion when you are not getting a good night's sleep for those first 6 weeks or so. Nettle tea will also increase your milk supply. As a by product of taking nettle tea your nails will grow stronger, and your hair longer. If you have engorged breasts you can take sage tea, which will give relief. But don't over do it as your milk may disappear altogether!
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