Looking after your little ones

More and more parents are choosing to follow the natural approach when it comes to raising their children, through good nutrition, supplements and natural remedies. Of course it goes without saying that if your child has a serious infection or fever it is essential to consult a doctor. But, for some minor health complaints, the natural approach can work well. We spoke to the experts to get their tips.

Sleep problems

“Sleep problems are common in the very young and a source of distress for many parents,” says nutritionist and herbalist Caroline Mentzer (www.mydaughterwontsleep.com).

“A simple bedtime routine helps a baby feel secure and can have a magical sleep-inducing effect. Try a soothing lavender-scented bath followed by a gentle massage and acupressure point sequence. Use ‘white noise’ to mimic the sounds your baby heard in the womb, helping them to feel safe and stay asleep for longer. Some babies just need to know you’re close by and wake up less when co-sleeping. If you’re breastfeeding, minimise caffeinated drinks, and replace with a cup of calming chamomile tea instead. Avoid giving foods that contains sugar or E-numbers, and serve relaxing ‘feel good’ foods such as oats, avocados, bananas and brown rice which help induce sleep and keep your baby fuller for longer.”

Skincare

“A baby’s skin is six times thinner than an adult’s so anything that we put on our baby’s skin is more readily absorbed,” says Justina Perry, a pregnancy, new mum and baby wellbeing expert and founder of MamaBabyBliss (www.mamababybliss.com).

“Because their skin is also adapting to the new environment and world around them, it is also more sensitive. This means that we have to be careful about what we put on our baby’s skin, especially when they are newborn. Up to the age of four weeks, it is recommended that you avoid any products on your baby’s skin. After that, it is best to use products with gentle, natural ingredients that present the least risk to aggravating sensitive skin. We also have to bear in mind that babies also put their hands in their mouths, so ingredients need to be safe for ingestion. Therefore avoid any oils or creams that have chemicals. Babies also have a very heightened sense of smell to enable them to bond with their mother, so keeping products simple and natural will also avoid that mummy scent that they so crave.”

Colic

“Colic is a common, distressing problem for both babies and parents, affecting one in five babies,” explains Natalie Lamb, a qualified nutritional therapist with Protexin (www.protexin.com).

“Numerous studies have indicated the gut flora to be imbalanced in infants suffering from colic, with increased concentrations of gas forming bacteria and often fewer levels of beneficial bacteria, such as Lactobacilli. A balanced gut flora is necessary in an infant to assist in the digestion of milk, regular healthy bowel movements and absorption of nutrients. Breast milk is a natural source of continuous beneficial bacteria. Probiotic (live bacteria) supplements are often considered to rebalance the gut flora and have shown positive results in improving symptoms of colic in recent studies.”

Nappy rash

“On average, we change our newborn baby’s nappy 12 times a day, which reduces to about six times a day for a three-month-old,” says Justina. “As babies have no control over their bladder, it is often difficult to know when they have done a wee. And, because urine is so acidic, this can lead to nappy rash. There are also times when babies are more susceptible to nappy rash, for example when they are teething. As they are producing more saliva, this impacts the enzymes and acid in the stomach, which can cause more acidic urine. To prevent nappy rash, prevention is better than cure. Using a cream is a good solution but the important thing is to find one that absorbs into the skin and creates a proper barrier from within, rather than just a topical solution which will be removed once a nappy is put on a wriggly baby’s bottom. A very effective ingredient is zinc oxide, a natural mineral which, once it has been absorbed by the skin, creates a protective and healing barrier. Again, the key here is to use a cream that actually absorbs into the skin rather than just creating a greasy or superficial barrier that can be wiped away. Nappy rash can be very uncomfortable for a baby and if the inflammation becomes severe, can lead to raw skin and open wounds, so treating it swiftly is key.”

Teething

“Teething can make some little ones really uncomfortable,” says Caroline. “If your baby is irritable, flushed, dribbling and cramming their hands in their mouth, you may suspect teething. Applying cold pressure temporarily relieves the discomfort. So put a teething ring in the fridge (not the freezer) or give your baby a clean, cold, damp flannel or a stick of chilled cucumber to chew on. Massaging the gums with your finger coated in a teething gel, which contains several homeopathic remedies to sooth pain, can really help.

“Teething granules with Chamomilla 6c are also an immediate and excellent way to calm a distressed baby who wakes in the night with pain. Vomiting, diarrhoea and fever are not signs of teething and should be investigated by a doctor.”

Eczema

“To soothe the effects of eczema, I would recommend giving your little one a bath with magnesium flakes or oats,” says Julie Silver, the author of Food Awakening: Nutrition for NOW (www.juliesilver.co.uk).

“Put the oats in an old stocking and squeeze out in the water. You could also try rubbing natural organic coconut oil into your child’s skin which is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral.” She adds: “The best way to prevent early childhood ailments is to give your children a natural diet that avoids any artificial additives or processed food, refined sugar, dairy products and refined flour products. Keep their immune system boosted with natural supplements such as children’s probiotics, a vitamin and mineral complex and essential fatty acids.”

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