April 18, 2011

Babies and Age Old Remedies

As many of our readers know, I'm a mother again to a newborn baby boy as of April 9th. And just like with my daughter, who was born in 2009, since I'm a historical author, each time a new experience happens with my children, I always think about what those living in the 1800's would have done. We all know the issues that plague us today aren't new to those who have gone before us.

Even some of the remedies have remained the same.

Teething is one part of an infant's life that all parents and babies must endure. I'm not there yet with my new son, but it won't be long. Take a look at some of these tried and true solutions and see if they might sound a little familiar:

# Rub your baby's gums. Use a clean finger, moistened gauze pad or damp washcloth to massage your baby's gums. The pressure can ease your baby's discomfort.

# Offer a teething toy made of firm rubber. If a bottle seems to do the trick, fill it with water. Prolonged contact with sugar from formula, milk or juice may cause tooth decay.

# Keep it cool. A cold washcloth can be soothing. Don't give your baby anything that's frozen, however. Contact with extreme cold may hurt, doing your baby more harm than good. If your baby's eating solid foods, offer cold items such as applesauce or oatmeal mixed with cold water.

# Dry the drool. Excessive drooling is part of the teething process. To prevent skin irritation, keep a clean cloth handy to dry your baby's chin. You may want to lay a clean cloth under your baby's head while he or she sleeps to keep the sheet dry.

# Try herbs. A mixture of ginger, fennel and chamomile helps settle an upset stomach, but it also provides relief to swollen and sore gums.

Seems like some remedies have passed the test of time and are still in use today. Like the old adage says, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." :)

Oh, and as for the doctor...if one is near enough to come calling or to visit, teething can usually be handled at home. Call the doctor only if your baby develops a fever, seems particularly uncomfortable, or has other signs or symptoms of illness. Remember, teething doesn't cause fever, colds or diarrhea.

Now, how about things like treating colic, or a baby with a milk allergy? Take a look at these remedies:

Set the baby in motion - Rocking the baby, taking them for a carriage ride, or having them in the wagon/buggy could help soothe the infant and provide relief.

Let the baby sleep - Doctors often tell you to pick up an infant every time he/she cries, but there are times when crying is a result of being tired. If you've tried everything else, lie the baby down and walk away. They will often settle in a few minutes.

Stay calm - As difficult as it is to keep in mind, it IS just a stage, and it will soon pass.

Take your baby off cow's milk - Some studies have indicated the protein in cow's milk is a culprit. Try soy-based formula or staying off dairy products yourself while breastfeeding.

Add fiber to your baby's diet - Start small and increase the dosage if you notice a change. Although not the answer for every baby, adding a little fiber is safe and worth a try.

Take a bath - You need to take care of yourself too. Relax your nerves, and make sure the baby is in a safe place. The sound of running water can mask the baby's crying.

Keep a calendar - Charting can reassure you that your baby takes breaks now and then.

Soothe, don't stimulate - Sometimes, crying is a result of over-stimulation. Try soothing. Some time-honored tools: a hot-water bottle, filled with warm, not hot, water and placed on a towel on the child's back or stomach; a pacifier; or repetitious sounds.

Be realistic - Try not to be discouraged. Your baby is not abnormal just because he or she cries a lot.

Maintain as much direct contact as possible - Try carrying or cuddling before colic sets in. You cannot spoil or hold an infant too much. Use a papoose or sling and keep your baby with you as much as possible in the early weeks. It could help prevent the onset of colic.

Feed more often - Add a few extra sessions each day if continual feeding doesn't fit with your schedule. And don't worry that you're feeding the baby too often. The baby will let you know when he or she has had enough.

Put your baby on a schedule - Start your little one on a regular schedule of sleeping and waking, and try to get him or her to fall asleep without your assistance. Establishing a simple bedtime (or naptime) routine or ritual may serve as a cue and help your baby transition from wakefulness to sleep without a crying fit in between. The baby may fuss a bit at first but will eventually get the hang of falling asleep in the crib rather than while feeding or being held.

Touch base with your doctor - Having a colicky child can be discouraging, so take advantage of all support systems available to you. Your doctor can be an invaluable source of ideas, experience, and reassurance.

Wait it out - Until a cure is found, you might just have to hang in there. Colic usually stops by 3 months. You can do it!

So, there you have it. Advice from our great-great-grandparents that's still full of wisdom even today.

Now, how about you? What "age-old" remedies have YOU used on babies or children that might have been passed down from generation to generation through your family or friends you've known?

I'll start with another one for babies, since that's where I am in life right now.

Once a baby's teeth come in and they begin to bite while nursing, pinch their nose lightly when they bite. As they are still primarily nose-breathers, if you cut off their air flow, they break contact to catch their breath. A few times of this and they'll realize that biting isn't the way to go.

Ok, your turn...

Tiffany Amber Stockton is an author, online marketing specialist and freelance web site designer who lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have one daughter, one son, and an Australian Shepherd mix. She has sold eleven books and one novella so far to Barbour Publishing, with more on the horizon. She's also been a member of ACFW since 2002.

Read more about her at her web site: http://www.amberstockton.com/.

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