Normal service has been suspended in this household for the past ten days because baby girl has her first cold. And it is proving to be a real doozy! At nine months old, she isn’t old enough to tell me which bits hurt, or even blow her nose yet. And her choice of conventional medication extends only as far as calpol, infant vapour rub and nasal saline spray. It has been pretty miserable for her. Although we seem to have dodged the cold – so far! – it hasn’t been much fun for the grown ups either, watching her struggle.
I am not averse to pharmaceutical medications when they are appropriate, but I also think that natural remedies and good nutrition can play a valuable role in health and wellbeing. Nature is incredibly powerful so why ignore what it has to offer? And it is amazing the number of everyday medicines that warn against being taken by nursing mothers and infants. So partly through choice, partly through necessity, we are definitely making natural and alternative options a key line of defence these days!
Shop bought hot lemon sachets are one of the medicines that are off limits, as is honey for babies under one year old, so I have been making a South East Asian alternative cold relief drink. Iced calamansi lime and ginger tea. Calamansi lime trees are indigenous to Borneo, and I’d never seen anything like them in the UK. The fruits are tiny but pack a mighty punch on the fragrance and flavour front, and release their oils with the slightest touch to their skins. Inside they are a beautiful orange colour, but are just as sour as their green-fleshed cousins. The juice is reputed to be a powerful expectorant and cough cure. So combined with the widely regarded alternative medicinal properties of ginger, which is known to be excellent at tackling colds and fever, this is a keeper as a family friendly cold-remedy. And unlike hot lemon sachets it is delicious…although I’ll admit that it does taste better with a little added honey for sweetness!
We have been making great use of my supply of essential oils to create baby-safe vaporiser blends and massage oils. A warming, soothing combination of mandarin, sandalwood and lemon in the vaporiser is helping her congestion and sore throat, while also making the whole house smell amazing. I am also giving our little girl a pre-sleep massage with a diluted mild blend of lavender and peppermint essential oils. She enjoys the relaxing contact and hopefully it is helping move the cold along, given lavender’s analgesic, antiseptic and expectorant strengths and peppermint’s general cold and flu fighting super-powers.
I’m also spending a lot more time in the kitchen with the blender on the go! Up to this point our little one was becoming pretty independent on the feeding front, and these days she usually prefers finger foods that she can pick up herself and chew rather than spoon-fed mush. But being so full of congestion and cold is stopping her being able to chew, swallow and still do the all important job of breathing! So I am back to blitzing and pureeing for the moment.
Obviously her little body needs to keep strong and healthy to fight the cold off, but her appetite has dropped right off, so I am trying to think of foods that will give her variety, will be soothing and easy to eat, but that will quickly load her up with calories and nutrients. Lots of immune-boosting, good energy foods, bursting with vitamin C and anti-viral properties. Cue porridge, sweet potato, kiwi, blueberries, cinnamon apple compote, cheesy chicken and mash… My husband quite often jokingly complains that more thought and effort go into meals for her than for us. At the moment he might have a point! Although at least we do now have a full freezer, stacked with pots and pots of a whole variety of baby purees, so that should keep things simple for a while!
Being typical first-time parents we took our daughter to the doctor yesterday, just to be sure it wasn’t turning into anything more serious. In the hot, humid tropics it can be very easy for simple things to turn bad in infants quite quickly, so it is worth checking. But there is no chest infection and the doctor didn’t seem worried, which is always a good sign. So we will just keep doing what we are doing and wait for her cold to run its course…and keep our fingers crossed that we don’t catch it in the meanwhile!