You’re a reasonable mama. You don’t rush to the emergency room with every sniffle or scrape your kiddo has…or are you?
Of course, anytime you have concerns about the wellbeing of your kiddo, consult your trusted physician, chat about some home treatment options for common kiddo occurrences.
Wee ones [0-18 months]
Diaper rash is especially common between 8 to 10 months of age.
Your wee one’s skin is so perfect…until you take off that diaper to reveal a bright red, chapped bottom! No one wants their wee one to resemble one of those red-bottomed monkeys on the National Geographic channel.
Most every wee one gets a diaper rash, so don’t beat yourself up or assume something is wrong when they happen. But some rashes can be more severe than others and some wee ones are more prone to getting them. You can do your best to decrease the likelihood of rashes by first changing diapers frequently, especially getting to the poopy ones as soon as possible! Then you need to make some changes if necessary:
All diapers are not created equally. They fit differently, absorb differently and have different fragrances and what not. Your sensitive little bum might need a little trial and error to find the right one. Also, consider using cloth diapers. And when it’s diaper laundry day, add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle. This helps remove alkaline irritants.
The "stuff" has to be gone and dry. Make sure all remnants of diaper surprise are removed and that little bum is dry as the Sierra desert. Also, consider giving that bum some breathing room and get a little fresh air before slapping on that diaper right away.
When it comes to wipes, make sure they are unscented or just use water. Do your best to take the irritation out of everything that comes in contact with that sweet, little bum.
If rashes seem to be a common occurrence consider using one of the creams or pastes on the market to give your wee one a barrier of defense. And just like diapers, it might take some trial and error to find the one right.
Tots [18 months-3 years]
In the mid-1950s, Harvard researchers determined nearly 90% of 24-month-olds in the U.S. were successfully potty trained, but since disposable diapers were launched in 1961, the average age has increased to between 36 and 38 months.
Potty time is a big deal for your tot. “Do you have to go potty?” “Come on, let’s go potty.” “Yay, you went potty!” Lots of daily focus is spent on when he goes and what he did. So, not being able to go can throw a real wrench in potty plans.
Times are hard
It is very common for tots to experience constipation or times of infrequent or unusually hard "number twos". And every tot’s “normal” bowel movement pattern is different. Some tots go daily, others weekly. If you notice changes in normal patterns, stools that are hard and small or large and knobby, he is straining on the toilet or is holding in poop because it’s going if he goes, his tummy is bloated and/or sore or he starts having accidents with runny stools, it’s time to take some action:
If your tot isn’t drinking enough fluids, the colon steals water from waste material and gives it to the rest of the body. Pushing the fluids can help get things moving.
Being active helps with digestion and gets the bowels moving. So get your tot out to play and run around.
Consider natural laxatives like the four P’s: prunes, peaches, plums, and pears. Eat, or drink them diluted or straight up to see if everything works its way out.
It’s important to do your best to relieve constipation when it hits as it can become a self-perpetuating problem: tot gets constipated…it hurts to go…tot doesn’t want to go…tot holds on…stool gets harder, larger and more painful to pass. This is a bad cycle to get into. As you treat constipation also take into consideration your tot’s diet and what is currently happening in his life. Make sure he is getting enough fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. And lastly, be aware that emotions can have an effect on intestinal function. If there is anything creating stress for your tot, it can cause constipation as well.
Preschoolers [3-5 years]
During cold and flu season alone, 59% of surfaces in your home can be contaminated with the flu virus (and it can survive for more than 48 hours).
She can catch flying phlegm in a single bound…snot is no match for her…airborne germs can’t get through her defenses…puke? Give me a break! She’s super mom! Cold and flu season is no match for her!
The best offense for cold and flu season is a good defense. Instill healthy habits in your kiddos early (regular exercise, good nutrition, adequate sleep and proper hand washing). But as hard a good mama will try it’s inevitable your preschooler is going to catch something. Regardless of the symptoms, no mama likes seeing their kiddo sick. And if at all possible, we prefer to not give them medicine, but not at the expense of them being uncomfortable. Here are some treatment options for what ails your kids:
Sour throat: Use a little lemon with your honey. Lemon juice dries up congestion and honey offers a soothing coating. Mix together a tablespoon of each and microwave about twenty seconds or until it is warm [not hot]. Have your preschooler drink slowly, about a teaspoon at a time. Remember that honey is not for kiddos under 12-months-old.
Persistent cough: Turn to a cool-mist humidifier when your preschooler has a nagging cough. Moist air helps ease coughing and congestion. Don’t forget to clean your humidifier frequently as it can be a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. The last thing you want to do is spew gunk into the air…keep it clean!
Get comfortable: When your preschooler isn’t feeling well, get them comfortable. Push the fluids (water, juice, warm soups) to prevent dehydration, get plenty of rest and consider pain relievers as needed. Keep in mind that the use of over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) are not recommended for kiddos under age two and it is extremely important to read the label of any and all cold medicine you give your preschooler to ensure overdosing doesn’t occur.
Big kids [6-9 years]
More kiddos ages 5 to 14 are seen in emergency departments for injuries related to biking than any other sport.
There’s no stopping a big kid at play. Running and jumping is usually followed by random collisions resulting in some much-needed mama first-aid.
Bumps, bruises and scrapes are a rite of passage for our big kids and their love of activity. When a hug and kiss aren’t enough to put them on the mend, try some of these fixes for common battle scars:
Nosebleed? Start by keeping your big kid’s head upright and pinch his nostrils together for several minutes. Then sprinkle a pinch of ground cayenne pepper (yes cayenne pepper) on a wet cotton swab and dab the inside of it on the area that is bleeding. This spice helps clot blood and has been used as such by cultures around the world. And surprisingly it doesn’t sting as you might expect.
Use cucumbers: Sure, you’ve seen the spa scene where the client is relaxing with two perfectly placed cucumber slices on their eyes. Well, there’s a reason…cucumbers are great for reducing mild swelling. Keep a few slices in the fridge and apply as needed. Then when they start to warm up, swap ‘em out with a new batch from the fridge.
Big black eye? The best treatment for a black eye is ice and a lot of it the first 24-48 hours. You’ve probably heard or seen the old raw steak to the eye treatment. It isn’t the raw meat that does the trick; it’s the coldness of the steak. A cold pop is just as effective. The thing to remember when applying ice or another cold object is to not put pressure on the eyeball.
Say goodbye to bruises: What a beautiful color show a bruise can provide. If you want to help that bruise heal a little faster, consider busting out the cayenne pepper again. Mixture one part cayenne pepper and five parts melted Vaseline, mix and cool and then apply once a day.
Tweeners [10-12 years]
In most cases, warts will disappear on their own in 6 months, but in severe cases, they may never disappear and can multiply.
It’s in every house, can fix most anything and is MacGyver’s best friend. What is it? Duct Tape, baby! And now you have another use!
Let’s face it, no one wants a wart. And as your tweener puts more and more attention on the reflection in the mirror, it’s safe to say a wart isn’t on the list of “must-haves.” Warts are a type of infection caused by one of the 100 viruses found in the human papillomavirus (HPV) family. They can occur anywhere on the body but are commonly seen on the hands and feet. Warts can be spread from one person to next by touching the wart or using shared items such as a towel. The good news is many people have a natural resistance to HPV. The bad news? Others are more susceptible and get warts easily.
What to do with a wart
For warts on your face or other (below the belt) areas, go to the doctor. For those found on your hands, fingers, knees or feet, treating at home can be successful. There are a number of over-the-counter wart treatments you can try or you can turn to the junk drawer and give duct tape a shot:
- Place a small piece of duct tape over the wart and leave it on for six days, if the tape gets icky or comes off, just reapply
Remove the tape and soak the wart is in water for a few minutes
Then, use an emery board or pumice stone to remove dead skin
Apply a new piece of duct tape and repeat the process until the wart is gone
The duct tape method can take up to two months, but it’s great because it is painless. Why does it work? The experts aren’t exactly sure, but one theory is that the duct tape, and what it’s made of, irritates the wart and stimulates the immune system to fight off the virus causing the wart.
Teens [13-18 years]
Caffeine increases the chances of suffering from severe PMS symptoms.
She’s sweet, kind and so much fun to be around. But there is something lurking, something dangerous and terrifying…your teen with PMS! When that hormone train comes roaring into the station and derails right in the living room for no rational reason, no one is safe and everyone is heading for cover!
There is a tricky hormone dance happening within your teen that we mamas know all too well. Most of the time estrogen and progesterone are in perfect step, but once a month one can start stepping on the toes of the other and balance is no more. Estrogen takes the lead and your teen is left feeling anxious and irritable. More progesterone and she’s feeling depressed and fatigued. No fun for anyone when things are out of balance. Here are some tips to help your teen combat the hazards of being a woman:
1200mg will do: Taking about 1200 milligrams of calcium can lessen symptoms of PMS such as bloating and cramping. Also consider limiting caffeine, sugar, artificial sweeteners, processed foods and hydrogenated fats from your diet.
Increase fiber: Eating additional fiber [and drinking plenty of water] can help the body get rid of excess estrogen and eliminate toxins. Not to mention fiber is also great at making you feel full, which can help ward off PMS cravings for not such healthy foods.
Vitex anyone: Also known as Agnus Cactus or Chastetree or Chasteberry or Monk's Pepper, Vitex is a plant that’s use has been dated back to Hippocrates in the 4th century B.C., and clinical studies have found it to lesson pesky PMS symptoms. In a nutshell, Vitex works through the hypothalamus-pituitary axis to restore the balance between estrogen and progesterone. Clinical studies have shown a reduction in headaches, breast tenderness, bloating, fatigue, cravings for sweets, as well as feelings of anxiety, irritability, depression and mood swings.
Gym time: Exercise is a great reducer of PMS symptoms. Just another reason to get your teen moving.
Editor’s note: This story was written by Sheri Kleinsasser Stockmoe and originally published in the August/September 2019 magazine. Forum Communications Company is re-publishing these stories as On the Minds of Moms staff members develop a new online community.