Colic, earaches, diaper rash . . . as all parents know, infancy is a time filled with finding solutions for the ailments that cause our babies pain or discomfort.

Between the glossy ads in parenting magazines and the aisles of choices at the supermarket and pharmacy, it can be overwhelming to try to choose the right thing to comfort the hurts of our little ones. And more often than not, it’s the middle of the night when we discover we need a solution – quickly!  Not the most convenient time for a trip to the store.

Here are 8 natural remedies for the discomforts of infancy – things that you already have in your home:

1. Chamomile Tea

For centuries, parents have used chamomile tea to soothe fussy babies.  For both adults and babies, chamomile has a soothing effect.

In order to keep an eye out for an allergic reaction (extremely rare with chamomile), begin with tiny amounts administered with a dropper or added to a bottle of breastmilk or formula.  Choose a trusted tea company such as Traditional Medicinals, or brew the tea from loose chamomile leaves from a safe source.

Dip a washcloth in chamomile tea and freeze it to create a soothing teether for older babies experiencing teething woes.

2. Grapefruit Seed Extract

Anyone who has ever battled thrush in an infant knows how discouraging it can be – you think you have succeeded in clearing it up, only to have it return again a few days later.

Nystatin and Genetian Violet are commonly advised to treat thrush, but I found GSE to be the most effective solution when my daughters were babies.  To treat thrush with GSE:

  • Make a solution of ten drops GSE per one ounce of distilled water.  (Never apply full-strength GSE to yourself or your child!)
  • Paint baby’s mouth with a cotton swab every two hours and before each feeding.
  • If breastfeeding, use the solution to treat yourself as well.  Allow to air dry.
  • If needed, paint diaper area as well; air dry.
  • If you don’t see results after two days, increase GSE to fifteen to twenty drops per one ounce

3. Raw Honey

Photo by alsjhc

Of course, honey should never be ingested by infants under the age of one because of concerns about botulism.  However, because of honey’s antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, raw honey makes an excellent agent to promote healing for minor wounds and cuts.

Use raw honey underneath an adhesive bandage to speed the healing of a small cut (from a slip with the nail trimmer, for example), or apply to an irritated area in the diaper area to clear a nasty case of diaper rash.  There is also anecdotal evidence that raw honey may be useful in the treatment of eczema.

4.  Apple Cider Vinegar

You probably have a bottle of apple cider vinegar in the pantry for use in the kitchen, or maybe it’s part of your hair care routine.

Because of the natural germ- and bacteria-fighting properties of apple cider vinegar, it also makes a great treatment for diaper rash. Prepare a 1:1 solution of water and apple cider vinegar and wipe it over baby’s diaper area. Allow to air dry.

5. Breastmilk

Beyond providing nourishment for your little one, breastmilk is also useful in a variety of ways to promote health and healing.

Breastmilk can be used to:

  • Clear a stuffy nose.  Use in the same way you would use saline spray or drops – squirt some into stopped-up nostril, wait a minute or two, and then suction out with bulb syringe.
  • Provide relief from an earache.  A few drops of breastmilk dropped into an inflamed or infected ear can provide relief and may even jump-start the healing process.
  • Clear conjunctivitis.  A few drops of breastmilk administered to the inside corner of the eye is a quick and convenient first response to conjunctivitis.

6. Essential Oils

Photo by Crystalwood Naturals

Essential oils can solve a variety of problems around the house.  Perhaps you have a few on hand already for housekeeping, personal hygiene, or aromatherapy.  Did you know you can use some of those essential oils to provide relief for the very common problem of stuffy noses and congestion?

I recently found a “recipe” for a cold care massage oil that uses essential oils as an alternative to baby vapor rub:

4 drops Tea Tree oil
2 drops lavender oil
2 drops eucalyptus oil
to 2 oz of carrier oil (such as olive oil)

Massage it into the soles of baby’s feet, back, chest, and neck to help relieve the congestion.  If you are nursing, try adding a little to the top part of the breast (right about where their noses would end up while nursing) to help them to be able to breath easily while nursing.

7. Probiotics

Most everyone is familiar with probiotics – dietary supplements or foods that help restore the “good” bacteria in your system to healthy levels.  There is now evidence that seems to indicate that introducing probiotics – particularly from the lactobacillus strain – may be helpful in treating babies suffering from colic.

When either of my girls has been on antibiotics, I’ve found that treating their tummies with probiotics (either in yogurt or in powdered form) greatly reduces the gastrointestinal upset that antibiotics often trigger.  Additionally, increasing the probiotics in their diets helped when we needed to find a cure for a yeast infection or yeast rash.

8.  Amber

Okay, so unprocessed Baltic amber is probably not something you have just laying around the house, but many parents in the United States are discovering a centuries-old truth: amber is a powerful natural analgesic.

When heated by the warmth of the skin, the anti-inflammatory and pain reducing properties can stimulate relief from within.  Amber teething necklaces are becoming a more common solution to the pain of teething, but be sure to take care when purchasing a teething necklace.  Necklaces that are well-made should have individually knotted beads and a break-away clasp.

Please do remember that this information is not intended to be used as medical advice, and I am not a medical professional. I’m simply a parent who is always looking for a natural (and easy!) way to alleviate the inevitable pain of growing up.

We all want our little ones to make it through the tough stuff so we can get back to enjoying those happy, healthy baby smiles!

Other helpful resources:

Keeper of the Home: Herbs for the Fussy Baby and Herbs for the New Mama
Allergy Self-Help: Herbs for Earaches

This is only a partial list of helpful natural remedies.  What solutions have you found work best for the common pains of infancy?