I originally wrote this article in August 2011. Since one of my resources for the original article was Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Remedies for CHILDREN’S HEALTH, a book that a second edition has since been published, I felt that an update of my article was due as well. Her second edition has a change in title from the first edition, becoming Herbs for Children’s Health and also includes a subtitle How to Make and Use Gentle Herbal Remedies for Soothing Common Ailments , which suggested to me the main reason for the changes, additions, and removals in the first edition. After reviewing and comparing the two editions, I have to agree that the second edition’s focus on herbs and on “gentle” makes this book a well written, updated AND EXPANDED version of the first edition.
Although her book covers all children, not just infants, in this article I would like to focus on the infant. An infant is not “just a very little adult”. An infant’s little body can not be expected to be able to just take much less of an herb compared to what an adult would take. The time it takes for an herb constituent (or a drug, for that matter) to travel through an infant’s gastrointestinal system is much more delayed than it is through an adult or older child. And an infant has lower levels of enzymes which impacts the metabolism. So herbs need to be selected with care and dosages carefully monitored. If you are a mother who is nursing, be aware that any herbs you take are being passed to the infant! This is why I applaud Rosemary Gladstar’s focus on herbs in her second edition.
There are tried and true (and safe) remedies for many of the conditions that infants experience. Some of the examples I provide are from Rosemary Gladstar’s book. She gives MANY more remedies, descriptions of herbs used and much more. So if you have children, I highly recommend you get this book.
Many parents experience the heartbreak of consoling an infant who has colic. I was one of those parents and wish I had known then what I know now. When my eldest daughter was about a month old, she began screaming in pain exactly at 6 PM every night and continued until 10 PM. This went on for several months. The only remedy I knew at that time (that usually, but not always, worked) was to put her in the car and drive her around the neighborhood.
Rosemary Gladstar provides an herbal remedy that is safe for infants with this condition. Like I said, wish I had known this then…. Colic Tea using seeds of anise, dill and fennel with chamomile flower and catnip leaf.
- 3 parts anise seed
- 3 parts chamomile flowers
- 1 part fennel seed
- 1 part dill seed
- 1/4 part catnip leaf
- a pinch of stevia to sweeten
- Mix ingredients and store in airtight container until ready to use.
- Pour 1 cup of boiling water on 1 tablespoon of the mixture and steep covered for 45 minutes.
- Strain and let cool.
Give the infant 1 teaspoon every few minutes until colic pain ceases.
This same daughter had a horrible case of cradle cap. The pediatrician told me to massage her head with baby oil! Of course I found out years later that baby oil is a mineral oil (from petroleum! Horrors!). In Rosemary Gladstar’s book there is an excellent recipe for cradle cap using nettle leaf, chamomile flowers, mullein leaf, olive oil and lavender essential oil.
I keep calendula salve in my medicine chest as a remedy for numerous ailments, including cradle cap. Just gently massage into the baby’s scalp two or three times a day and leave on overnight. Gentle massaging the next day will easily remove the crust.
And that calendula salve is also the perfect remedy every parent needs for diaper rash.
Looking for a perfect handcrafted baby shower gift? How about a gentle, non-allergenic, safe baby powder? Every mother-to-be has been thrilled to receive this gift from me. A few years ago I discovered that my youngest daughter was rationing her baby powder gift after my little granddaughter was born because she loved how it treated the baby’s skin and wanted it to last. So I had to give her the recipe so that she could make more. Ever since then, for a baby shower gift, I mix up the ingredients, put some into a shaker (those stainless steel shakers enhance the homemade feel) and put the rest of the mixture in a pint size glass canning jar. Putting a ribbon around the jar and taping the recipe to it turns it into a delightful gift.
Here’s the recipe. Feel free to pass it along.
- 1 cup arrowroot powder
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- Combine arrowroot powder and baking soda and whisk thoroughly.
- Put in shaker container.