Natural Living, Olive

A spoonful of sugar

5 home remedies to soothe a sick toddler -

As our Valentine’s festivities started to wind down yesterday, Olive began to get sick. Runny nose, sneezing fits, tiny body wracked with coughs every five minutes – the whole nine. She bunked in with me last night so I could keep an eye on her temperature, and we both had fitful sleeps interrupted by her coughing. I think she must be pretty achey as well , because she seems to have trouble getting comfortable – you know that achey-bone feeling that seems to accompany winter colds? Poor kid.

The weirdest part of this whole thing is that she is so quiet. Anyone who has spent more than five minutes around Olive usually comments on how verbal she is. (By the way “verbal”, for the non-parents among us, is somewhat of a euphemism, kind of like when you call out of control kids “spirited”. It is basically just a kind way of saying ” Wow, that kid never ever stops talking ever even when her mother is literally pleading from the front seat ‘Stop talking! Please stop talking! Just for five minutes! I need this!’ ”

She talks. A lot. And the whining has begun, too. I was warned about the whining, I thought I was prepared for the whining. But suddenly everything she says is in this high-pitched nasal drawn out whiiiiiine. And she says a lot. So there’s a lot of whining, which also means there is a lot of me saying “I can not understand you when you whine. Speak in a regular voice please” over and over again.

I have added that to the list of cliched parent-phrases I thought would never come out of my mouth. (Others include: “Do you need to poop? Are you pooping? Is that poop?” and “I am going to count to three! 1…..2….3. Shit, she called my bluff. Now what?”)

The point of this long winded tangent is that Olive is very smart and talks a lot, and most of the time – despite the whining – she talks about really clever, funny, and interesting things. But for the entire day today she has been quiet. Quiet!

It’s unnerving. I keep poking her to make sure she’s not actually catatonic, unconscious, or sleeping with her eyes open. All she wants to do is have “Mummy snuggles” which comes out, courtesy of her snuffed nose, like “bubby suggle”. Cute. But snotty.

I have broken out every hippie trick in my arsenal, and thought I would assemble them here for my future reference and yours – we are lucky that Olive is a really healthy kid and doesn’t get sick often, so it always takes me a while to remember all of this. But now I’ll know where to find it for next time (and if you know of any I am leaving out, please add them in the comments!)

5 home remedies to soothe a sick toddler -

1. Eucalyptus essential oil is great for relieving congested noses, coughs, and chest colds. I make my own VapoRub by mixing 15-20 drops of Eucalyptus essential oil into a small jar of my homemade lotion (which I still love and am obsessed with, by the way. I have given little jars of it to my in-laws and sisters and gotten them hooked, too. My skin has never been softer, and it uses three ingredients. Try it!) I rub the eucalyptus lotion onto her chest and back to help with congestion. Massaging a few drops of the essential oil onto the soles of her feet helps ease coughing fits, and when I bathe her I add some to the water and let it get nice and steamy.

Edited to add: A lovely reader named Allison noted in the comments that strong essential oils like peppermint and eucalyptus aren’t recommended for children under the age of ten, so using an alternative like fir oil is best.

 2. Fluids & Nutrition.  Olive’s appetite is gone (another oddity for this child of mine who once ate six eggs for breakfast) so making sure she is eating enough and staying hydrated has been a challenge. Coconut water is an amazing natural source of electrolytes (I drink it a lot because of my kidney condition) and because of its sweetness she is more likely to drink it than she would plain water. I typically don’t give her juices, but all bets are off at this point. Smoothies have  been a hit too – I add lots of spinach, ginger, and citrus fruits to make them as healthy as possible. Using frozen fruit makes a cold smoothie, which seems to feel nice on her throat.

3. Runny Noses. I really wish I could teach her how to use a neti pot, it would help her so much, but I mean, if there is anyone out there who has successfully taught a two-and-a-half year old to use a Neti Pot without coming out looking like they’ve tangled with a mountain lion, I would love to meet you.

There are rivers of snot over here right now, and I have a Nose Frida from when she was a newborn but I have never been able to get within five feet of her with the damn thing (I don’t blame you, Olive. It’s weird.) To cut down on waste and soothe her sore nose I have been trying to use a soft warm washcloth rather than tissues/toilet paper, and a bit of coconut oil is helping soothe any chapped skin on the nose or upper lip.

4. Magic Tea my go-to cold buster. If you haven’t tried this yet, don’t be put off by the ingredients – you can’t taste the garlic and your toddler will probably like it, especially if you drink it too. If I am making a batch for Olive I will typically omit the cayenne, and double the honey.

(For persistent coughs and sore throats, a small teaspoon of plain honey can often help to coat the throat and ease soreness.)

5. Sleep. Did you just laugh out loud? Ha! Oh, sleep! Is that all? I mean, just sleep! But seriously, sleep. Ever since Olive gave up her naps I have had to be pretty careful not to let her sleep during the day or her normal 8pm bedtime gets pushed back to 10 or even 11 o’clock at night. But yesterday she went to bed at 6:30pm, and she has napped on and off all day today. Chances are that between their coughing and discomfort you will be up most of the night anyway, so you might as well take the sleep if and when you can get it (and use it productively. To write posts for your Internet Blog. For example.)

Here’s hoping Miss Olive is back to her energetic self in no time. And although it is absolutely heartbreaking seeing her like this, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t secretly loving the chance to lie in bed snuggling her all day. It’s like she’s a newborn all over again.

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  • Reply Becky February 15, 2015 at 8:03 PM

    Thanks for the tips even though I don’t have children yet I do like to take notes :). I have also heard good things about oregano oil, and heard to use just a small amount for little ones. I think has a post about it on her blog.

  • Reply Sarah Milbratz February 15, 2015 at 9:14 PM

    My son has a terrible cold right now andi just broke down and got a Nose Freida. I basically had to hold him down to use it, but when I was finished he SMILED at me. It was miraculous. I also use his old baby receiving blankets for handkerchiefs. They are way softer and cheaper than Kleenex.

    • Reply Heather Marie Rau February 16, 2015 at 10:07 AM

      My 2 1/2 year old gets sick all the time durring winter months and im constantly steaming up the bathroom for him and having to keep after him with kleenex and his inhalers. So thanks for the advice so I can try something else.

  • Reply Jenn February 15, 2015 at 9:40 PM

    Poor Olive! Bubby suggle, though….heart BOOM. 🙂 Love all of these for my boys when they are sick but We would never survive without our cool mist humidifiers! And though ifs not the most Eco friendly….have you heard of Boogie Wipes? The saline really does help. Maybe there is a hippie way to achieve the same goal? 🙂

  • Reply Allison February 16, 2015 at 5:56 AM

    Madeleine, please read up on eucalyptus and consider revising this blog post. It is dangerous to use on children under the age of 10 as it can slow respiration. Here is a link to safer EOs to use on children for colds and congestion.

    I love essential oils and use them all the time but certain oils are much to strong for young children.

    • Reply Allison February 16, 2015 at 6:00 AM

      Ughh – TOO strong. Touch screen technology and my typing skills don’t jive….

    • Reply sweetmadeleine February 16, 2015 at 3:19 PM

      Thank you, Allison – I had no idea! I will amend the post to include this info, and then go searching for Fir oil instead 🙂
      I love you guys!

  • Reply jamie February 16, 2015 at 6:49 AM

    okay, this seems weird, but… if coughing is keeping you up, try tiger balm (or anything with the same active ingredient) rubbed onto the bottoms of the feet, then put the feet into socks to keep it from rubbing off onto the bedding. we only tried this once, out of desperation, after all the medicines failed to work. and it worked. we didn’t think it would, and i still don’t really believe it’s possible, but it worked, and despite being mystified, i will try it again if the need arises. not sure if eucalyptus might also work in place of the aromatics in tiger balm. maybe. if it does, be sure to let us know! =)

  • Reply Inna February 16, 2015 at 10:21 AM

    I heard it from several sources that a raw onion is a good natural nose decongestant for kids…. U just slice it and put it in a handkerchief and hang it somewhere close to baby’s head, in a safe way so that the baby doesnt remove it, but close enough to breath it in. I haven’t tried it myself yet (my baby’s only 4 months old and didnt have a really blocked nose yet)…though I can imagine it is not the most pleasant aroma for the grownup to be breathing all night 🙂 but…100% natural 🙂

  • Reply hynespet February 16, 2015 at 11:45 AM

    Ginger tea with some lemon and honey is great for combating sore throat, chest colds, stomach problems etc!
    Use several slices of ginger root instead of the prepackaged tea blends

  • Reply Erin February 16, 2015 at 5:51 PM

    Have you ever heard of an onion poultice? My naturopath recommended it for my son when he had a bad cough and it helped. Basically you:
    -slice an onion and put it in a saucepan with just enough water to bring to a simmer
    -simmer until onion turns translucent
    -lightly drain
    -place soggy onion in cheesecloth, allow to cool to a nice warm temperature to have sitting on your child’s chest
    -run a bath and let the bathroom get nice and steamy
    -get into the tub with your child and have him/her lie back on you while you hold the onion poultice right on top of his/her chest
    -stay there about 10-15 minutes

    Another one she recommended for stimulating the immune system and bringing down a temperature is the cold sock treatment. Basically:
    -give your child a nice warm bath and put him/her to bed
    -after he/she has fallen asleep, creep in with a pair of cotton socks that you’ve soaked in ice water and slip these on his/her feet
    -cover the cold wet socks with a pair of dry wool socks (use your own adult-size socks so they’ll be easy to slip on)
    -cover your child’s legs up again and let him/her sleep through the night
    -in the morning the inner socks will be dry

    When I tried this I was thinking there would be zero chance of getting the cold wet socks on him, but after some squirming, he actually let me (without waking up). And the socks were dry in the morning, and his temperature was down.

    Hippy home remedies are the best kind 🙂

    • Reply sweetmadeleine February 16, 2015 at 6:18 PM

      I feel like doing this onion poultice is some NEXT level hippie business. Like, if people thought my coconut oil hair masks were weird, wait until the pop by and Olive is covered in onions!
      In all seriousness though, I will try this!
      Thank you 🙂

  • Reply I’m an ADULT – Sweet Madeleine February 21, 2015 at 4:00 PM

    […] let’s get to the point so I can drug myself to sleep. Earlier in the week I shared some hippie home remedies that I was using to help nurse her through this bastard illness, and now I would like to share a […]

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