Sick Baby? Five Things Any Parent Can Do

Sad Squish makes for sad Daddy

Sad Squish makes for sad Daddy

Our wee Squish-boy is sick. Not quite six months old and a respiratory virus of some sort came to call. Over the years we’ve assembled quite the arsenal of products to deal with viral based issues.  Unfortunately, *Most* of them are for bigger people than very young babies. Through some trial and error though we figured out a few things that have helped to make the wee boy comfortable despite the severity of illness.

1) Hydration: Stuffy nosed babies have a difficult time nursing and may not be very interested in swallowing much of anything. With inadequate hydration plus the extra drooling, extra mucous production and the general strain the body is under as the immune system fights the invader hydration needs escalate. Warm sea salt and magnesium baths with just a drop or two of beneficial essential oils can make a world of difference. Not only is the warmth soothing, the steamy air beneficial for inflamed airways while the essential oils work their beneficial magic. Three favorites of mine for sick infants is Lavender Essential OilChamomile Essential Oil and Frankincense Essential oil. All three are anti inflammatory, soothing and calming to the airways. The pores of the skin are able to absorb moisture and it helps to rehydrate, especially via the feet!

The warm steamy air is also fantastic for loosening up stuffy noses enough that they can be gently suctioned or wiped. For babes old enough to understand blowing their nose or ones that require frequent wiping, I suggest keeping their delicate skin slathered in a layer of Miracle to help prevent chaffing. Miracle can also serve as soothing and healing carrier oil/base for essential oils as needed on other parts of the body.

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2) Massage: We have become big fans of massage for our babies and children on a regular basis. But it is especially helpful when they are sick. A light dab of Winter Breeze on their little footsies and gently rubbed in, focusing on helpful pressure point areas is a great thing to do.

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3) Probiotics. Infants have immature immune systems with limited capabilities. Most of the immune system is housed in the gut. Probiotics are one of the most gentle and safe supplements one can give an infant. It works well in addition to breastmilk or formula. I personally use Tummy Tune Up capsules. For 0-3 months 1/4 a capsule worth of the mild and slightly milky tasting powder on the tongue before nursing. 3 to 9 months 1/2 a capsule at a time and 9+ months one full capsule at a time. Another favorite for us to use is Bovine Colostrum. Beeyoutiful’s is sourced from grass-fed cow’s and is freeze dried to maintain optimal nutritional benefits.

SweetSquish

SweetSquish

4) Sleeping Positions: Our babies have not been good sleepers under the best of circumstances. Actually, pretty sure they are in the running for some of the worst baby sleepers out there. But, what good sleeping we do manage to make happen on a normal basis goes straight out the window as soon as snuffles and congestion arrive on the scene. We have found that our babies do much better when sleeping on an incline. When breathing issues are really acute it’s best to have baby skin on skin with mama, sleeping on her chest (especially if she’s lactating!) A recliner, or propped up safely in a bed is safest. Arranged in such a way that if Mama’s arms go limp in sleep baby is still safe from rolling off and getting into a smothering situation or hitting the floor. We have also put a fully swaddled baby on their back on a pillow set at an incline to help with breathing. The swaddling prevents them from rolling over or flipping themselves into a position where they could smother or have restricted air access from the pillow (firm pillows are best for this purpose). We also sleep right next to our sick babies. SIDS is a worry that is never too far from my mind but always rises to the forefront whenever there is sickness that affected their airways. With my Mama spidey senses in full gear I am pretty tuned into their every breath or lack of one sleeping near them.

Room sharing may mean parent(s) get less sleep but it can make for more attuned care to the little ones. Especially if it means getting to them before they are able to work up into a cry when they wake up. Crying = more mucous production and distress so preemptively doing as much care as it is possible to do without them having to cry is ideal. Also, and possibly most importantly there is some research to suggest that babies are triggered and “reminded” to breath by the bio feedback. Hearing the deep, even rhythms of breath from especially the people their little bodies are best attuned to is one of the best regulating things you can give them access to when breathing is at all a struggle.

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5) Rest: With the 24/7 attentive care that babies need when they are sick, rest is of top priority. Even for Mama’s that have other little ones running around that need care. There is too much at stake with a sick babe for mama to run herself into the ground and get super sick herself (preaching to the choir here as I hack and cough from having succumbed to what the wee man had over a week ago). Rest as much as it is possible to. We all have these lofty parenting goals of what our kids are allowed to do and not do on a normal basis. This is one of those times where it’s Ok to call a truce with the electronics and declare a documentary marathon if it means Mama can snag a nap when baby naps. Rest is that oh so vital and yet oh so undervalued and under prioritized component of healing we so easily overlook. Take shifts with a spouse. Swallow that pride and ask for some help. It’s very worth it.

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Our little Squish is, thankfully on the mend from his first illness. I started this blog post when he first got sick and am just now able to finish it up over a week later. Did I mention how overwhelming life gets when dealing with a sick baby??? Yeah. He has been the youngest I’ve had get this sick and it was scary. Was so thankful for each and every tool we’ve learned over the years and been able to practice with on less severe illnesses in his siblings. Our focus going forward for the rest of this winter is prevention!

Next post will be about our new and improved method of doing garlic poultices around here! Stay tuned.

First Aid for Colds

We are all familiar with the necessity and just good ol’ common sense of keeping around a First Aid kit in our homes and cars. It isn’t that we plan for accidents or injuries to happen just makes sense to be prepared for that “just incase” possibility. These days our injury oriented first aid kit is stocked with items like Miracle, OwEase, Bee’s Aid and various essential oils. The homeopathic form of Arnica and activated charcoal have also become permanent fixtures.

I’ve been thinking lately that I should keep an illness first aid kit stocked. Not that I am planning on illness but if preparedness with a scraped knee or bee sting is common sense why wouldn’t the same rule apply for colds, sniffles or allergies? If we get sick there are certain items I need and often times don’t have on hand. Some of them are easy to replace and others not so much. Especially for the items that require a lot of effort to find or might be difficult to find at all it is especially important to deliberately keep those items on hand.

So, what would a First Aid Kit for Colds look like in our house? I made a list. Cuz I love lists. Lists are my friend. They help me out a lot in life. You should make friends with lists too if you haven’t already. 😉

  • Raw local Honey. Indefinite shelf life. Can be difficult to locate so always keep a supply on hand.
  • Real from healthy bones and joints from scratch Chicken or bone Broth to the tune of 1/2 a gallon minimum standing by in the freezer. I wrote about how to make bone broth and about some of it’s incredible healing properties here.
  • Jars of rich bone broth

    Jars of rich bone broth

  • Herbal Teas from Traditional Medicinals My personal favorites are the Throat Coat for Kids, Throat Coat for Adults, Breath Easy and Gypsy Cold Care. These Teas are shelf stable for a good long while and are wonderfully soothing and beneficial. Especially for those prone to asthmatic complications of various illnesses.

    Breath Easy

    Breath Easy

  • Fresh Garlic, preferably organic. Whole Heads of garlic last me anywhere from 1 to 3 months depending on the average temp in my kitchen. I re-stock as soon as I’m down to 1 head. Poultices use up garlic pretty fast and for an average cold for 4 people doing poultices several times a day you can easily use up 5 to 6 heads worth. So, when I re-stock that is the amount I shoot for. We also eat a lot of fresh garlic. If I see it starting to sprout or shrivel I make a point of using fresh garlic for the next couple of meals and replenish the supply my next shopping trip. Need to learn how to do a garlic poultice? I made this video a while back and it covers the how-to in all it’s simplicity. 🙂 Just click Garlic Poultice Tutorial
  • Winter Breeze. This is one of the best products ever. It’s a necessity in our house. You know about Vick’s Vapor Rub? This is like that only waaaay better. Better FOR you because it doesn’t have icky petroleum based ingredients and WORKS better due to the high powered ingredients it’s made from. It is super effective and actually helps to kick whatever the problem is much faster because the oils in it are antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti viral not to mention lung and sinus soothing and nasal passage opening. Massaged over chest and back if there is a tight cough, on the soles of feet for pretty much everything and around the nose for sinus pressure and stuffy noses. Child safe and (after testing for sensitivity) safe for use on infants feet.
  • BerryWell. This is a one stop shopping spot for convenient yet incredibly effective cold and allergy superhero. It’s expensive and sometimes goes out of stock but it has a VERY long shelf life so there is no reason to wait till the last minute to get it and risk having to wait a week or more to get it in your hands. It works best the earlier into a situation you take it so having it on the shelf ready to go is by far the best policy. I try to keep 2 to 4 bottles on my back shelf for that *just incase* scenario.
  • Probiotics. I’m fairly flexible on which one, but infusions of broad spectrum good bacterial are crucial for helping the gut get a handle on whatever war is being waged in the body. The vast majority of our immune system is regulated in our yards of GI track so dumping some reinforcements down there when dealing with an illness, even if it isn’t a stomach oriented problem is a good policy.
  • Essential Oils. These multi faceted tools are useful for everything really and First Aid for sicknesses is no exception. Not only can they be used in a myriad of remedies to directly fight the illness and symptoms in the body they can also be used in cleaners around the house to keep the sickness from spreading.

Those comprise my Sickness First Aid Essentials. All of these items are multi faceted. You’ll probably find yourself reaching for various ones for totally different reasons than an illness. The trick in my experience is to keep them on hand because illnesses don’t come with a 1 week advance notice so you can have time to scramble and assemble some last minute troops to fight it with. Wish I had a dollar for every time a desperate Mom called me when I was taking customer service calls with Beeyoutiful begging for a next day shipping option and willing to pay a ridiculous amount to have it shipped fast because her family had been struck down by an illness of some sort and she was out of Berrywell or some other crucial immune boosting supplement.

Doodlebug curled up in her chair on a cold winter day

Doodlebug curled up in her chair on a cold winter day

Be prepared! Get prepared! Go take stock and make sure you have enough resources on hand to fight something from day one.  And while you are checking your families sickness inventory let me know what you consider to be crucial. What is the one thing you never ever want to be without no matter what?

Hey Kitchen! I’m HoooOOOOoooome!

I am back at home in TN and back in the saddle doing food prep for my little fambly. Please note the use of the word little. Cuz we are a small family. TheMan, Doodlebug and myself and none of us are typically big eaters. Even with the occasional staff person and my food-vacuum-cleaner of a brother partaking of our meals with us we still don’t go through massive piles of food.

I know this. I tell myself this. I remind myself of this multiple times when preparing food. And then when I survey the mounded heaps of steaming dishes when I’m all done I realize that yup. I did it again. I cooked enough food for a small army. It’s like my brain doesn’t compute how to cook any other way. So, unless the a fore mentioned vacuum cleaner happens along to suck up some of the leftovers my food prep for one big meal = lot’s of leftovers that will last us several more days and probably be turned into different meals.

As an example. Last night I baked a whole chicken. Encouraged it’s thawing along at a more rapid pace by placing it in a large metal bowl with hot sea salt water until it was thawed. Removed the pouch of internal organs and patted the chicken dry. In a large baking pan I drizzled a cooking oil mixture made out of Coconut, Safflower and Olive Oil (all three extra virgin/organic) and drizzled a bit over the chicken. Whole cloves of raw garlic along with firm pats of butter in alternating pattern were inserted under the skin and the innert cavity filled with a handful of whole, raw garlic. The outside and inside was heavily sprinkled with various seasonings. Along the bottom of the pan I spread the Chickens ‘gizzards’ or internal organs. And added another hand-ful of raw garlic. (I went through three whole heads of fresh garlic for this meal.) On top of the gizzards and garlic cloves went un-cooked Wild Rice with seasonings sprinkled over the top. On top of the wild rice the seasoned chicken was placed and a few cups of water poured on top of the rice. This baked covered for almost two hours. Uncovered for ten minutes to get a nice crispy skin and then was ready to serve.

Before serving if you choose to try this dish I would recommend fishing out the gizzards from the rice so that nobody gets an un pleasant surprise as they scoop things onto their plate (cough::SorryLizzy!!!::cough) The reason for their inclusion is to add extra flavor/nutrients to the whole dish. They will later be tossed into a stock pot for broth along with the bones from the leftovers.

Since our CSA Veggies have accumulated into heaps of beautiful bounty that had begun to wither and was bordering on going bad I had to do something fast that would use up almost all of them. This time of year we get a lot of greens. A LOT of greens. And my family isn’t all that crazy about greens. So I have to get creative. Stir Fry using a friends borrowed Wok has been the solution to this problem. With enough seasonings piled on the strong tasting greens are subdued into something edible by the pickier among us. So I chopped up four odd looking squash (the other thing about CSA veggies is occasionally you have no idea what something is so some experimenting is required), three heads of Chinese Cabbage, A bag of Cabbage Greens and two clumps of mixed greens. The primary problem when I do a stir fry is that I don’t measure. And I do not yet possess a good enough grasp of Asian seasonings to use them well in my typical slap dash dump a little of this and that manner of cooking. So last night crisis hit when I realized I had added way too much Lemongrass essential oil. Potatoes were added to the stir Fry in large chunks to help absorb the excess flavor. Whole Cloves of Garlic were thrown in amongst everything else to try to balance out flavors. This and that was hurled in along with a can or so of Coconut Milk turning it into less of a stir fry and more of a chunky soup. But, in the end a balanced and delicious dish was the end result and I might have even been able to act like I had planned it that way all along except that in my panic all available people had been roped in as tasters and witnessed the seasoning panic. (ahem) Note to self: Panic quietly and discreetly next time so you can appear as though you actually meant to serve Coconut Thai Stir Fry Soup for supper.

Also in the food lineup last night was Sweet potatoes and wild yams. I literally have a huge drawer full of these yummy tubers in my fridge. Both CSA’s we are part of (Summer and Winter they have a few weeks of overlap) have been quite generous with them so I’ve been getting double rations.  TheMan hates these little orange delicacies so it’s up to me and the Doodlebug and any random guests I can coax into helping me eat them. Last night I thin sliced a 13×9″ pyrex baking dish full of sweet taters and yams and thickly sprinkled layers of Heavenly Sugar, Cinnamon, Cardamon, Allspice over them. Interspersed pats of butter over the whole thing, dashed a few drops of Ginger and Orange Essential Oil and popped the whole thing in the oven. It came out delicious! Next time I think I’ll add some Coconut Milk or regular Cream to it for some added flavor/creaminess.

After supper was over I went into leftover-meal prep for tomorrow mode. Extracted all the meat off of the chicken bones and along with the skin put it in a mixture of spices water and vinegar on the stove to turn into stock over the next couple of days. The leftover chicken was torn into chunks and dropped into the crock pot along with the leftover rice. The soupish stir fry was dumped on top and extra coconut milk added to the whole thing. I set it on low and went to bed. This morning I had leftover sweet potatoes for breakfast. Today we had a delicious soup for lunch that was a perfect marriage of seasonings.

 

(Happy sigh) I love good food. I love my kitchen and it’s oh so good to be home. =)

Hair and Face

It is Wedding Week in my life. A dear friend and honorary sister is getting married this week and I am delighted to be a Bridesmaid. My friend is blessed with hair I used to pray to God to get as a little girl. Super curly. Perfect, tight ringlets curly.

Being the not-so-proud owner of limp, flat, body-less hair myself I haven’t had much compassion for the occasional whining about frizz or the inability to run a brush through her hair my friend would indulge in every so often. Still, her gorgeous hair fascinated me and I began hounding her a few months ago to let me experiment with a Hot (Warm actually) Oil Soak for it. After quite a bit of reading I became convinced this would be the cure for her frizz problem and result in those tight, kinky curls loosening a bit into softer, gentler versions of their former selves.

Understandably a bit skeptical it took her a few months to give into my wheedlings that bordered on out right bribery on occasion. Tonight was the night! Some might say I was taking unfair advantage of a stressed out Bride-to-Be who has too much on her plate. (ahem) I neither deny nor confirm any such rumor. Upon getting her long awaited for yes I delightedly scampered off to blend the concoction that has been burbling around my head for months. While I was at it I decided to try a facial that my wonderful Cousin Anna told me about.

Into the Hair Bowl went:

1/3 Cup Coconut Oil

1/4 Cup Sunflower Oil

Splish/splash of Extra Virgin, Organic Olive Oil (Nope, I didn’t measure on the others, just guessed. Not really sure how to translate a splish splash into measurement so you are going to be stuck with what I know. Splish Splash is it.)

1/4 Cup Jojoba Oil

15-20 Drops of Lavender Essential Oil

6-8 Drops Geranium Essential Oil

Was supposed to have some Rosemary Essential Oil, about 8 drops worth but I couldn’t find mine in the oils cabinet (Probably still packed with the camping stuff from this last weekend) and did not want to take the time to dig it out.

The oils gently warmed together in the bowl in the toaster oven while I mixed up the facial.

1/4 Cup Raw, un-refined Honey (the kind that has been exposed to cold and is as a result is thick and grainy)

1 Tablespoon Local Bee Pollen. This Bee Pollen is in large round chunks/blobs that looked like “Boogers” according to one slightly queasy and grossed out looking on-looker. Don’t let the looks intimidate you. This stuff is magic. Seriously.

15 Drops Jojoba Oil

Stir together vigorously. The Jojoba Oil should be well emulsified into the honey and the biggest crystals broken up.

Scuttling over to my friend clutching both bowls before she changed her mind I quickly set to work.  Towel around her shoulders I began gently massaging the oil into her hair. Most resources I read recommended first dampening the hair before adding Oil.  I chose to put this oil mixture straight onto her hair dry. If her hair were any less coarse/damaged than it was I would have dampened it with water first but in her case I wanted the maximum amount of oil possible absorbing in for the moisturizing-healing effects.  Once her entire scalp and last bit of hair was thoroughly saturated (take the opportunity to give a nice scalp massage while you are at this. Feels amazing, or so I’m told) I wrapped her head in Plastic Wrap to control any drippies and moved onto the facial.

The texture of the honey mixture was stiff but became easier to work with. I gently massaged it into her face and neck for ten to fifteen minutes while her hair soaked. The large kernels of Bee Pollen acted like gentle exfoliators while the honey conditioned, toned and moisturized with all the live enzymes restoring and rejuvenating. Fearing the subject of my experiement was going to fall asleep on me I sent her off to the bathroom for a shower in an oily sticky state that was somewhat startling to look at and anxiously awaited her return.

She came out with the most gorgeous dewy glow to her skin I have ever seen. “You have GOT to feel my face” she said. I did. UnbeLIEVably soft. The hair was also a pleasant surprise. The tight kinky curls, usually tighter than ever after being wet lay in soft, relaxed ringlets. She said she had shampooed her hair twice to get the bulk of the oil out. We watched until some strands dried to see if it would boing back up but it didn’t! The true test will come in the morning, to see if it makes it through the night in it’s current state of relaxed, healthy, glowing vibrant and oh so soft state.

Seeing these impressive results I had to try the left-over facial myself. I am sitting here writing this with a goofy grin of delight on my face. This post is taking about five times longer than it should because I keep stopping to rub my cheek and feel how awesomely soft it is.

It’s late and there is a big day of Birthday Celebrations and last minute Wedding Shopping Things to be done tomorrow starting early AM (I pick up my Bridesmaids dress from being altered, hurrah!) but I wanted to share these things before life shoved it down the chain of priorities. Let me know if you try either of these recipes! =D I owe my Cousin Anna a big “Thank you” Hug the next time I see her. If you should happen to get soft glowing skin from this experiment I’ll accept a hug of thanks for it too. =D

Painless Tick Removal 101: The Great Experiment

We live in TN. Ticks seem to regard TN as their own personal utopia and seem to be everywhere both in quantity and variety. I did some reading/research a while back on how to safely remove ticks without the traditional yank and pull method which risks leaving the parasites head behind OR causing a chunk of skin to be removed along with the tick. Neither of those are fantastic situations and are often painful. Somewhere or other I stumbled over the recommendation of saturating the tick with essential oil, the oil soaks into the skin and around the ticks mouth and causes them to turn loose automatically because their tasty blood feast isn’t so yummy anymore.

All excited about this “pain free” alternative (which btw was also alluded to as being an effective prevention of Lymes and other diseases carried by ticks) I eagerly waited for the next victim -I mean, person to get a tick for me to experiment on. I waited…And waited…And waited some more. TheMan had spread diatemateous earth around our yard a couple of years ago because it was reputed to do away with ticks and other problem bug like critters. We had seed ticks by the thousands. Apparently it worked because the past couple of years ticks have been kinda scarce around our yard. Still. There were plenty of ticks elsewhere and in the woods so it had to be only a matter of days…maybe a couple of weeks…right? Try a couple of MONTHS later I finally got my hands on a real life person with a tick that wasn’t too terrified of my concoctions to allow me to experiment on her.

It was a nice medium sized tick that had a firm grip upon her scalp. What I had read recommended soaking a cotton ball in essential oil and taping it over the tick for a little while, checking periodically to see if it had let go.  Since this was in the middle of her head tape didn’t seem like a viable alternative so I decided to just drip drop the essential oil neat directly over the tick. Once assured that the oil would in no way hurt her hair, my trusting companion consented to the modified protocol.

I watched closely to see any reactions from the tick as the Tea Tree Essential  oil (my weapon of choice since it is very safe to be applied neat, or, without dilution) slowly saturated him and the surrounding hair and skin. A miserable squirming commenced, and after a couple minutes I could see him frantically trying to back away. He opened his jaws and seemed to be trying to “spit out” or unhook his little pincers from her skin. When he had just barely a bit of it left in his jaws I quickly tugged him away (concerned that at the rate of his current squirming and scrabbling if he got totally unhooked he would disappear into other parts of her hair). A tiny flake of skin came away with his jaws. BUT there was no bleeding, no red mark, no NOTHING. You couldn’t even tell where he had been. Thankfully for once I remembered to take before and after pictures of the process. Well, they are really more like during and after…I forgot to take a picture before I dropped the oil on.

Tick sqirming miserably after the oil is dripped upon it.

Tick sqirming miserably after the oil is dripped upon it.

Same area after the tick was removed. Can't even tell it was ever there!

Same area after the tick was removed. Can't even tell it was ever there!

I plan on trying this on any future ticks we come across and hopefully will have as good a results as we did this time. I’m thinking about trying Lavender Essential oil next time since quite frankly I like the smell of Lavender better than Tea Tree essential oil.

Anybody else have tried and true painless tick removal methods? I’d love to hear about them! =D If anybody is brave enough to try this protocol on themselves or someone that will allow you to experiment please take the time to let me know how it works.