I see it in the natural mama community all the time.
A lot of the mamas are brand-new to this whole natural-living gig. They’re used to the mainstream advice to go to the doctor, get vaccines, and take lots of medicine. This is all they know as far as “keeping kids healthy,” but they’re looking for a different — and better — way.
Many of these mamas are nervous. They feel like if they aren’t doing all that mainstream stuff, they need to do something else! Something to keep their precious babies from getting sick.
I get it. I really do.
But, mamas? We need to talk. There are things you can and should do, but they’re not as complicated or expensive as you may feel like they are. It’s the mainstream that convinces us we need a lot of things and that it’s hard to keep kids healthy. For the most part, though, it’s not.
Let me explain….
How to Keep Your Child Naturally Healthy
Keeping kids healthy didn’t used to be a big deal. They played outside a lot, often barefoot. They got plenty of fresh air and sun (for vitamin D). They ate farm-fresh foods because that’s what there was. Outside of crowded, unsanitary cities (where disease spread easily because of human and animal waste and a total lack of understanding of hygiene), people were pretty healthy. They didn’t have the rates of chronic illness that we have today.
Moms look at kids today and they’re fearful. How can they keep their kids healthy with all of that around?
The truth is, just avoiding all the mainstream junk is a big step in the right direction. Not eating junk food, not using OTC meds or repeated courses of antibiotics, not vaccinating…. Avoiding the things that are causing the damage is a big deal! (If you’re curious why I said that about vaccines, then do some more reading HERE.)
Of course, there are also simple, obvious things that everyone can agree on, like getting plenty of play time/exercise, washing hands regularly, and not being around sick people. Those go a long way to helping you stay healthy too!
Do you need to do more?
It all depends on if your family seems prone to illness or not, if you live in a crowded area (more exposure, illness circulates more easily), if you’ve had a less-than-optimal early experience (like you’re transitioning from a more mainstream lifestyle), etc. If you’re already experiencing issues, you may need to be more proactive than someone who’s relatively healthy and wanting to stay that way.
But, either, way…mama, don’t freak out. There is no perfect when it comes to health — natural or otherwise. Your child will get sick occasionally. It’s not a bad thing, when it comes to 24-hour bugs and minor sniffles. Everyone gets those from time to time. What you’re trying to avoid is frequent illnesses, or more severe illnesses. If your child gets a cold, or gets a tummy bug, you didn’t mess up. It’s part of life sometimes. It’s okay.
How to Protect Your Kids
If you’re still expecting, congratulations! Check out these tips for promoting optimal gut health in your newborn.
If you’re already beyond that phase, check out how to improve your toddler’s gut health.
Gut health is a hugely important area, because so much of our health is rooted in our guts. If we don’t have healthy gut flora, we’re more likely to develop allergies, IBS, and a whole lot of other issues. Research into gut health is very new, and no one fully knows what an “optimal” pattern of gut flora looks like yet. What researchers do know is that getting certain strains via food or supplements seems to affect flora — and overall health — in a positive way.
What About Supplements?
A lot of mamas are worried about supplements. Do you need them? If so, which ones? What brand? It gets really confusing, really quick.
First of all, take a deep breath. Supplements are not required for your child to be healthy. Sometimes they are helpful, particularly if you know there is a deficiency, but not everyone needs the same things.
I don’t personally trust most of the mainstream, or even major ‘natural’ brands of supplements. I think they are a cannon-ball approach to the issue and are not really protecting health the way they should.
Instead, I recommend (and use):
- Regular sunlight (vitamin D) — best 10 – 15 min. right at midday
- Magnesium lotion, about 1/2 tsp. on legs before bed (I use this one)
- Dessicated liver pills, 1 – 2 per day, for iron, zinc, copper, and B vitamins (I use these, these, or make my own)
- Herbal tea or herbal multivitamin, for basically everything else (Nettle, dandelion leaf, or this)
We really don’t do much else. I occasionally add in some elderberry or mullein if we see sniffles. Astragalus root is our friend in the winter if we’re out and about a lot. We use echinacea from time to time, too.
It doesn’t need to be complicated. Really.
What About Essential Oils and Kids?
I’m not a big fan of essential oils. I have a lot of them, actually, but I use them for specific purposes only. I don’t use them often with kids.
I do diffuse lavender or lemon sometimes — lemon often in the winter to kill germs in the air (and it’s kid-safe). Both of these are in our natural hand sanitizer too, which I use on all my toddlers and up.
I also use this rub when little ones can’t breathe well during colds, on toddlers and older.
I don’t use essential oils for general immune boosting. I don’t use them stronger than a 2% dilution with kids. I rarely use them topically. They are potent, and they are only some of the plant’s components — the fat-soluble ones. There are all kinds of important components in plants that aren’t found in the essential oil. That’s why I prefer to use whole herbs.
Some people do use essential oils with kids. Check out safe use guidelines so if you do want to use them, you’re doing it safely.
Bottom line? It’s really not that hard to keep your kids healthy. Love them, play with them, feed them well, and consider only truly safe, natural supplements (maybe).