As long as I can remember, Iâ??ve found the subject of natural childcare fascinating. My four children were born at home. My daughter, the oldest, was delivered by a midwife, with me as a bystander.
As long as I can remember, I’ve found the subject of natural childcare fascinating. My four children were born at home. My daughter, the oldest, was delivered by a midwife, with me as a bystander. My three sons were born at home, with just my wife and I, lots of herbs and homeopathy. None of my children are vaccinated–no artificial immunity for them. They have never been given pharmaceutical drugs and we’ve never had to stay up at night because of an illness. As a matter of fact, my kids have never seen a medical doctor for professional reasons. They’ve grown normally, have excellent grades in school and have had most of the normal childhood diseases–minus the drugs. Their mother and I have worked together to maintain a natural, drug-free approach to our children’s health. What have my years of training, years of private practice–and especially 10 years of being a parent–told me about children’s health? Here are a few pointers. Healthy Vitality Children have excellent vitality by nature. Vitality is the "living force" in all people that helps the body react to foreign intruders like micro-organisms and chemicals. Children’s high vitality means when they get sick it is fast, acute and they get over it quickly (for example, a high fever that doesn’t last long). With more vitality, your body reacts more quickly and with more force to repel intruders. In order to maintain that vitality–the basis for the body’s self-healing power–it’s important to give them foods that do not de-vitalize. Fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains help supply a variety of nutrients. Some of you will want to tell me your kids won’t eat veggies. There have been times when mine don’t either, so I’ve found useful, fun ways to get phytochemicals (beneficial plant chemicals) into them. One of these is to mix your favorite superfood blend with a clean, organic protein source (soy, whey or both) into unsweetened pineapple juice and offer them this naturally sweet and nutrient-packed drink. Some companies have a superfood and protein blend available as a finished product. The other approach is to have them take their greens in popsicle format. I mix a green superfood blend with apple juice and make popsicles with it. It’s healthy, fun and thirst-quenching in the summer. Immunity Without Drugs I am firmly convinced that the increasing health problems we face in North America are due as much to the overuse of drugs (prescription and over-the-counter) as they are to a deficient diet. I’ve never used drugs on our kids. As a general rule we let their own bodies overcome the problem. We eliminate potential aggressors, such as dairy products, when there is a respiratory tract problem (like cold or flu) and wheat and dairy when there is an intestinal problem. All simple sugars, including honey, molasses, rice malt, fruits and fruit juices are eliminated when there is an infection. However, if they need extra support, I use herbal or homeopathic remedies. In my opinion these work more effectively than prescription medication. We’re all aware of the incredible safety and efficacy of echinacea for viral infections. Grapefruit seed extract can act as a wonderful antibacterial and antifungal agent for a short period of time. I’ve also made a habit of using two herbs that are useful for a variety of childhood diseases--licorice root and red clover blossoms. Both can be used for mucus in the respiratory tract or colds and flu. In addition, licorice root can be used for constipation and upset stomach or intestinal tract. Red clover is useful for whooping cough or light detoxification. I use high quality licorice root powder and red clover blossoms, make a strong tea and have the children drink it warm. If you add a bit of honey or brown rice malt you can also freeze this tea into popsicles. It’s great for colds, sore throats and intestinal problems. My children have also used liquid aged garlic extract when they have an infection. It’s odorless and non-irritating. Finally, bee pollen and propolis are well-researched and safe alternatives to antibiotics. The only two products we keep at home for topical infections and/or lesions are tea tree oil (we use industrial quantities for scratches and cuts) and an arnica cream for bruises. Chicken pox is a good example of the effectiveness of natural approaches. My three oldest children were affected by chicken pox at the same time. Generally, children are prescribed acetaminophen, a local anesthetic and an antihistamine (to reduce the itching). The signs of chickenpox include fever, headache, fatigue, a sore throat and a rash that spreads from the trunk to the rest of the body. The rash is generally very itchy. In our case, we weren’t about to use drugs, so we decided to cut out all dairy products and simple sugars, including fruits and fruit juices. The children were given an aged garlic extract supplement in high doses, a glycerine-based echinacea and goldenseal tincture (one teaspoon every four hours) and extra green foods supplements. They were covered with the rash, but they did not itch, had no fever or headaches and spent the time away from school playing! Managing Peer Pressure It’s not always easy to get kids to stay on a healthy regimen as they get older. They begin to both develop their own individuality and experience the need to conform to others. I’ve found that the easiest way to handle things as they get older (and more independent) is to explain to them why they are eating differently from others and avoid making our family’s healthy lifestyle an obligation imposed "from above." My six-year-old son sometimes (more often than I care for) likes to trade his natural snack for candies at school. The solution here is to try to explain why he shouldn’t do this, or, at best, why he should do it infrequently. If he gets a cold, we’ll make him understand that his immune system was weakened by the sugar. Secondly, there’s also the fun of giving kids a certain number of "healthy days." You look at the average number of days the average child is absent from school for illness–these statistics are available–and you let your children take a similar number of days off to play! That’s a real reward and reinforces that fact that their dietary "sacrifices" are worthwhile. Let Kids Be Kids My wife isn’t a naturopath and I don’t believe someone has to be a naturopath to undertake this kind of natural healing approach. I have friends from different walks of life who are applying the natural approach to health. If you are not comfortable enough to apply all the measures I’ve written about, then do what you can. It’s not an all or nothing thing–the more you do, the better, but doing a little bit is better than doing nothing at all. Books are excellent resources, so parents, empower yourselves with knowledge.