If you're a parent – you know the challenges of baby’s first cold. There might be a runny or stuffy nose making nursing difficult as well as fever, coughing, restlessness, irritability, and loss of appetite. And the typical cold can last for up to 10 days. That’s a long time for an infant.
The biggest conundrum – knowing what to give your baby for symptom relief that is both effective and safe. The options are few. If you are still breastfeeding, that helps because you are still giving the baby needed antibodies to fight any bug.
Happily – there is also homeopathy. I love using it with infants because it’s both effective and safe – but also very gentle.
Here are just a few remedies with their characteristic symptoms for you to consider:
- Aconite: For any cold that comes on suddenly, often at night, often with a fever, restlessness and thirst. Particularly if the child was exposed to cold air or a cold wind and got a chill – this might be the remedy for you! It's generally only effective, though, at the onset of symptoms, in the first 24 hours.
- Calcarea carb.: A child needing this remedy is one who typically sweats while sleeping, particularly on the back of the head and neck. In fact, they may sweat so much they soak the sheet they are lying on. Babies who need this remedy often sweat from the head while breast-feeding – this is a good clue. The sweat may have a sour or ‘off ‘ odor. The nose may be discharging freely or completely stopped – making nose breathing difficult, and this symptom may be worse at night. The mucus discharge is typically whitish-yellow.
- Chamomilla: One should think of this remedy when the child seems excessively restless and ill-tempered (!) and can only be quieted when being carried about the room. If the cold seems to be related to teething and the mood is very demanding and the child is hard to please – this is most likely the right choice! The child may also have a runny nose with a watery discharge. The symptoms are often worse at night. If they are feverish – they may have one hot, red cheek and one pale. There may be loose, greenish stools, and more thirst than usual--- but the key to this remedy is definitely the mood.
- Dulcamara: A child needing this remedy has a tendency to catch a cold every time the weather changes suddenly from dry and warm to wet and cold. The nostrils are oftenentirely filled up, preventing breathing through the nose with frequent sneezing. There can also be a profuse discharge of water from nose and eyes that is worse in open air, worse on waking in the morning and better in a closed room.
- Kali bichromium: One should think of this remedy when one sees a child with a discharge from the nose or throat that is tough and stringy. The discharge is often described as ropy as well. The nose may also be plugged up – with actual mucus plugs forming in the nostrils. The mucus from the nose will often take on a greenish hue. If there is a cough – it is often worse in the morning and is again accompanied by expectoration that is tough and ropy.
- Nux vomica: A child needing this remedy will often have cold hands and feet and seems generally chillier than usual, despite seeming to have more heat in the head/face. They will also be irritable and cranky. You can hear them coughing and sneezing in their bed in the morning on waking. Often the nose is both runny (watery and clear) and blocked at the same time. They seem to be worse outdoors in the cold air.
- Pulsatilla: One would want to consider this remedy for a cold that is worse in the evening. The discharge from the nose will typically be yellow or yellow-green in color – often obstructing the nose with thick and crusty mucus. The child will also be generally more teary and whiney than is normal and wants to be held. They seem overall better outside in the fresh air. You may notice that there is less thirst than normal.
- Sambucus nigra: A child needing this remedy will present with a nose that seems completely dry but also completely obstructed. This symptom is particularly noticeable in children that are nursing – for it makes nursing virtually impossible for the child. What mucus that can be discharged tends to be very thick and tenacious.
Remember (particularly if you are new to homeopathy) - the key to choosing the correct/helpful remedy for your child is always the same. One must match the “characteristic symptoms” (i.e., unusual or peculiar) of the person you are caring for (not the common ones like a headache, sore throat, cough, fever, etc.) to a remedy capable of producing similar characteristic symptoms to have success. If you choose a remedy with characteristics most similar to the characteristic symptoms of your family member, you should have a happy outcome every time. If you don't - you or they will either feel no effect or one that is mildly positive at best, but there is never a bad effect from choosing the “incorrect” remedy.
Once you have chosen a remedy that appears to match your child’s symptoms dose with a 30C to start - placing one pellet under the child’s tongue or one pellet in water, stirring vigorously and then giving a teaspoon dose as needed (for an infant, the remedy can be added to their formula if they are taking a bottle). Always cease dosing when relief begins and only redose if symptoms again worsen. As with any medical condition, consult with your physician if you have any concerns about the severity of the problem as it may first require medical diagnosis and/or intervention and monitoring.
About Dr. Lisa Samet
Dr. Lisa Samet N.D. provides Washington Homeopathic Products with a weekly column on using homeopathy for the family. She's a naturopathic physician who specializes in homeopathic medicine and she's a partner with Dr. Andre Saine N.D. Dr. Samet graduated from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in 1998 and has been practicing in Montreal since then. She was born and raised in New York.
Dr. Samet has chosen to focus on homeopathy because in her experience it is the deepest healing modality available in that it does not just soothe or palliate symptoms but can actually stimulate the body to start to heal itself. Dr. Samet sees patients in her Montreal office as well as long distance using Skype. Learn more here: Dr. Lisa Samet. You can follow her on Facebook as well.