The most happy, special and rewarding experience of life is taking care of the new born. A new born needs to be taken care of constantly right from the moment it is separated from the mother’s umbilical cord.
Besides love and affection, the new born needs to be grown healthy. That the parents are of sound health do not guarantee a hazard free health of a baby.
Taking a baby who is just under one year to a doctor cannot be avoided, in case of unexplained symptoms or other medical conditions. However, there are certain home remedies using herbs that are found to address minor problems of babies that surface one in a while.
Before using herbs for babies it should be borne in mind that babies up to 6 months have a different digestive tract from that of older children or adults. Infants up to two years of age do not have their livers well developed. Both the digestive tract and liver are the most vital organs to be taken care of. This is to ensure that the feeding given to the child is compatible and properly digested for child growth.
Infant disorders are distinctly different from that of grown up children or adults. Therefore the method of treatment also has to be different and carefully adopted for babies, particularly up to one year.
Some of the disorders of babies can be cured by using herbs as in the case of adults. But not all the herbs and natural supplements used for adults can be used for babies. Very few disorders and complications that are minor in nature can be cured by using herbs and without consulting a doctor.
Most frequent and common issues in infants are common cold, flu, gastrointestinal disorders, and ear infections.
Herbs useful for treatment
To provide immediate relief to the baby some herbs that can be stored in each household and grown in and around the house. These herbs are:
Vasambu (Acorus Calamine), Omam (Bishop’s weed), Athimathuram known as liquorice (Glycyrrhiza Glabra), Pepper, Long pepper, Clove, Coriander seeds, Garlic, Kadukkai (Haritaki-Terminalia Chebula), Jeera (cumin seeds), Dry ginger, Dry amla, Nut meg, Chitharathai (Alpinia Officinarum), cinnamon, Thulasi or Holy Basil (Ocimum Tenuiflorum), catnip (Kaattu thulasi), Fennel, chamomile, calendula, honey, Jaggery and Palm sugar candy. The list is not exhaustive.
Disorders and herbal cures
Athimathuram helps in curing cough. Boil about an inch of athimathuram piece in 200 ml water and add palm sugar candy. Strain well. Give the distilled extract to the baby thrice a day for two days to cure cough. Approximate dosage is 25 ml each time.
Giving Kadukkai peel powder with honey also cures cough of babies who are about one year. Dry cough is cured by a syrup made of dry ginger, coriander seeds, pepper and jaggery in boiling water. Water extracted after boiling chitharathai in it is given to cure cough immediately.
The best remedy for digestive problems in infants is giving omam or bishop’s weed water. It increases appetite and enhances digestion. In addition to digestive disorders, omam water cures phlegm, cough, colic pain and congestion in the baby.
One of the reasons for untimely and frequent crying by infants up to one or two years is discomfort in the abdomen due to introduction of food other than breast milk. This could also be due to consumption of certain foods by the feeding mother herself.
Stomach disorders like indigestion are cured by giving charred vasambu powder mixed with honey. (You can see the tutorial here) For newborns the paste is simply rubbed on the tongue to have immediate relief.
Infection and inflammation in the chest
Both are cured by just giving one or two teaspoons of jeera water at periodic intervals. A syrup prepared by infusion of long pepper, chitharathai, betel leaf, pepper and jaggery in limited quantities in boiling water can be given to provide immediate relief from infections and inflammation in babies. Cold, fever and cough in babies about one year can be cured by giving a paste of cooked dry amla with jaggery and ghee to guard against cold, cough and fever. In addition, it is useful in increasing the appetite and make babies take the feed well.
Newborns get uncomfortable gas in their stomach even if they are on mother’s milk or bottled milk. Here a combination of catnip and fennel seeds is given to the child to remove gas. Catnip relaxes the baby and fennel seeds makes it tasty.
A mixture of extracts from garlic, chamomile and calendula is applied to protect the skin from diaper rash. The mixture is also used to wash the area before putting on the diaper and then applied to prevent rash.