Lauri M. Aesoph, ND
An attentive parent listens and learns her infantâ??s personal language of cries and gestures. By doing so, a strong emotional bond is forged and you become better attuned to your childâ??s state of health.
An attentive parent listens and learns her infant’s personal language of cries and gestures. By doing so, a strong emotional bond is forged and you become better attuned to your child’s state of health. You also ensure that baby remains well by attending to her basic day-to-day necessities: proper nourishment, adequate sleep and lots and lots of touching and love.
For infants six months and younger, breast milk is obviously best. Numerous studies attest to the superior nutrition and health-enhancing qualities of mother’s milk. (A Dutch study discovered that children who were nursed were healthier overall.) Once solid food is introduced, breast milk can and should continue as one food/drink for another six to 18 months. Most physicians recommend that new babies steer clear of more allergenic foods like cow’s milk, wheat, corn and eggs. It’s best to start with rice, steamed vegetables and fruits. Give each food one at a time, then wait for several days before introducing a new food.
When baby is well and you understand each other, all is right with the world. But when baby is ill or distressed by the discomfort of teething, diaper rash or colic, the language you share breaks down. Here are some simple steps you can take to soothe your young one. If symptoms are severe, unusual or long lasting, seek guidance.
Take a Bite Out of Teething
When baby’s first teeth break through the gums, there may be no problems at all. For some, gum pain, itching and swelling cause considerable insomnia, irritability and anguish. Apparently unrelated symptoms are blamed on teething, fever, diarrhea, ear pulling, coughing and rashes. According to recent research, many teething symptoms are caused by allergies and other illnesses.
Applying or gently rubbing ice or a cold cloth on the affected area helps reduce swelling and pain. Liquid filled teething rings can be frozen for baby to gnaw on. Homeopathy is also helpful. Silica is suitable for the child whose teeth come in slowly and late. Cold water increases discomfort in this situation. Baby is chilly and wants warm blankets. Calcarea carbonica is also for babies slow to teethe. The difference is that these children perspire on their heads. Chamomilla is for the inconsolable child, who tends to have temper tantrums as teeth pop through. Combination homeopathic products are also available specifically for teething.
Change Those Diapers
One in four babies suffers from diaper rash, the most common skin disorder among young children. Causes include insufficient diaper changing, yeast infection, excessive rubbing of the skin, reaction to laundry soap or ointments or food reactions, particularly cereals. More serious skin disorders or systemic illnesses should also be investigated if the diaper rash does not clear up by regular treatments.
Diaper changing whenever baby is wet or soiled helps prevent and remove a rash. If possible, let the little one go without a diaper. A gentle cleaning with mild soap and warm water, followed by an application of calendula cream helps as well. Alternately, corn starch can be sprinkled on to dry moisture and can reduce a rash caused by rubbing.
Preliminary evidence suggests that some babies prone to diaper rash are low in zinc. This may explain why zinc oxide cream is a popular rash preparation; zinc supplementation (best administered by your health practitioner) has often proven effective.
Calm Baby’s Tummy
Colic refers to persistent and unexplained crying in infants. It begins shortly after birth, usually subsiding in four months. About 13 percent of babies go through these harmless, though upsetting, crying spells. (By medical definition, an infant is colicky when she wails for three or more hours each day, for at least three days per week, for three weeks or more. Needless to say, this is as stressful for the parents as it is for baby.)
There’s no known single reason for infantile colic and no definitive cure. It’s likely this condition has many causes, such as food allergies, the emotional state of baby and parents, medications taken by a nursing mother and maternal smoking.
Women who smoke while nursing are more apt to have colicky babies than mothers who don’t, as nicotine and other cigarette by-products concentrate in breast milk. Forty percent of babies breastfed by mothers who smoke five or more cigarettes a day have colic versus 26 percent among non-smokers. A more recent study found that colic was twice as high among non-nursed infants of smoking mothers.
Reacting to foods, either in breast milk or consumed directly by baby, is another potential cause of colic. In one study, when mothers ate a low allergen diet (free of pasteurized milk, eggs, wheat and nuts), colicky, nursing babes experienced a 39 per cent decrease in distress within eight days. Other research reveals that taking infants off soy formula or cow’s milk-based formula for a week produces significant results. Nursing mothers can also eliminate caffeine and gas-producing foods such as cabbage, beans, garlic and onions.
The classic child’s remedy, Chamomilla, fits the colicky baby who’s inconsolable, fussy and arches her back when crying. Diluted, warm camomile tea can also ease abdominal upset and crying. For children intolerant of cow’s milk, try homeopathic Lycopodium or Magnesia phosphorica. Magnesia also suits children bothered by gas and abdominal bloating.
Resting baby with her stomach over your lap and gently patting her on the back may help. A warm water bottle on the stomach, or carrying and rocking helps some babies. Some infants are just born cranky. Keeping this in mind, parents of colicky children need to seek both emotional and caregiving support if only to be better caregivers themselves.
The ABCs of Homeopathics for Babies:
The following remedies form a valuable mini first aid kit when traveling with a baby. For serious ailments, seek the help of a health care professional, particularly with children younger than two years old.