There were multiple titles I wanted to name this post on child wellness. Because it’s so darn all encompassing!
Here were just a few:
1. Kids Health: How To Have The Healthiest Kids Around.
2. Tips To Avoid The Stomach Bug, Colds, Ear Infections, & More.
3. My Kids Hardly Get Sick, and it’s because of their Gut Health.
4. Gut Health, the Least Talked About, Most Effective way to Stay Healthy
I could go on and on! Can you see a theme here? Gut health is a major part of this whole thing. 😉 Please, read on!
Too many kids are constantly sick.
This may be controversial, but I stand behind that statement. I see friends and family who post to Facebook month after month frustrated that their kids are battling yet another stomach bug. Many also post late night check-in’s to the ER for dehydration related to the latest bug, or an ear infection accompanied by a high fever, and on and on. Sound familiar to your Facebook feed? Or maybe to your life? I honestly believe it doesn’t have to be that way.
Buckle up, grab some coffee, and maybe a notepad. Let’s dig in!
This post is long, I won’t sugar coat it. Maybe you should pin it for later when you have a chance to really delve in. But I promise, stick around to the end and you’ll be more knowledgeable and ready to stock your home with a healthy arsonal that will combat just about anything this season of sickness will throw at ya!
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
I am not a doctor or health care professional. These are my opinions based on personal experiences and research. I went from watching my son come down with multiple ear infections, to the point tubes were discussed, to now being two years antibiotics free! Any signs of ear infections I nip in the bud pronto. (This was HUGE for us!) We also use to combated the stomach bug each winter, which most say is typical but I beg to differ.
I went from dealing with the above problems, to having a son that now hasn’t come down with the stomach bug for the past two winters! (fingers crossed for this one as well!) Evelyn is also a picture of health, having only a few small colds during her two years on this earth. Considering how often we were taking Tyrion to the doctor when he was little, I’d call that a big win.
I’m not saying “follow this and your kids will never get sick.” I’m not naive. Some kids have ear issues that need tubes. Kids will get tummy bugs. Sometimes antibiotics are indeed needed. And some kids are just healthier than others. I get it! Kids will be down for the count every now and again, without a doubt. But I believe it should happen far less that most are conditioned to assume is “normal”.
We are taught to run in fear to the doctor
My hope is that I can empower mothers to feel confident in treating small illnesses at home. That they won’t have to worry, because they have the knowledge and ability to care for their sick child, without having to rely on an outside source, such as a doctor, unless truly needed. We have been programmed for the last few decades to run in fear to the doctor any time our children show any signs of sickness.
To our credit as moms, we’ve been taking care of our babies needs for centuries with little help from more than our own mothers. Doctors were only called as a last resort. My prayer is we get back to the basics and feel competent as parents to treat a variety of illnesses at home and not helpless in the middle of the night rushing a child in fear to the local emergency center praying our he or she will be okay. I’ve been there. It’s far from fun.
Know what makes me mad?
Like burning red, fire breathing mad? How doctors never talk about gut health in children. Or adults for that matter. Sick? Here’s a Z-pack. Sadly, the gut is a vital component for overall health that’s hardly ever addressed by the standard medical community. Nore do they venture to tell you that overuse of antibiotics causes harm, sometimes irreversibly, to your gut. While antibiotics are surely necessary in some cases, we are ruining our bodies by using them all the time. (Most of us by now have heard of antibiotic resistance.) Need more proof? See this article for three ways your gut (and body) suffers from antibiotic use.
The gut and your brain
Know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when something horrible happens? It’s because your gut is essentially a second brain.
This snippet of an article by Johns Hopkins Medicine explains it well:
If you’ve ever “gone with your gut” to make a decision or felt “butterflies in your stomach” when nervous, you’re likely getting signals from an unexpected source: your second brain. Hidden in the walls of the digestive system, this “brain in your gut” is revolutionizing medicine’s understanding of the links between digestion, mood, health and even the way you think.
Scientists call this little brain the enteric nervous system (ENS). And it’s not so little. The ENS is two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells lining your gastrointestinal tract from esophagus to rectum.
Isn’t that wild?!?
Have your children taken antibiotics?
99% of the time the answer is yes. And it’s okay! While these meds have a place when they’re needed, everyone’s bodies, especially children, should get a reboot after completing that Z-pack. Antibiotics don’t play favorites. They kill everything in their path, the good and bad, and that leaves the recipient vulnerable to other attacks on their immune system once the antibiotics are complete. Bad gut health has also been linked to anxiety and depression. Have I convinced you to take an interest in cleaning up you and your kids (and maybe your) gut yet? I hope the answer is yes!
Read on for the supplements I give my kids to make sure their guts are thriving.
Prevention (and healing) is key
What I want to cover most here is prevention and healing the gut. We will talk about what to do once kids are sick, but mostly it’s the things you do daily that are going to prevent sickness, or even a few things to do at the very beginning of any symptoms. Once kids are sick they’re sick. It’s all about treatment and containment at that point.
Maybe some of you are concerned about cost. How expensive is it to have sick kids though? Days off from work, trips to the doctor, trips to the pharmacy, an emergency visit to the ER? When Tyrion had an accident on our backyard and hit his head, and after insurance it still cost us $1,200. I about died!!!!! My point? Prevention is always cheaper.
Let’s break this post down into a few different categories: Daily routine, Colds & Ear Infections, & Stomach bugs & Tummy issues.
Let’s face the facts, kids are stinkers when it comes to eating. You simply can’t expect them to get everything they need from their daily food intake. Hot dogs and mac n cheese anyone? It’s not possible. How many kids do you see wolfing down salads? And if they are, are they also covered in Ranch? I rest my case.
Enter in Super Kids.
Besides the major selling point that my kids love it, this liquid vitamin contain no synthetic dyes and is sugar free. Made from real ingredients, SuperKids is filled with antioxidants like Vitamins C and E, bioflavonoids, lycopene, and other carotenes to wage war against free radicals assaulting your child’s body through processed foods and polluted air. SuperKids comes in two flavors: orange and multi-berry. I have yet to try the orange, because my kids have been loving the multi-berry for two plus years. Why change up something that’s working right?
I credit this vitamin and the aloe in it with keeping the tummy bugs away from my kids. As they say on the BeeYoutiful site (where they sell Super Kids),
“These goodies will absorb and be better used by your child’s body because SuperKids™ contains aloe vera, the superfood known for smoothing out digestion. It works magic in the colon for happier and more regular trips to the bathroom. Aloe also makes the intestines “slippery” so nasty stomach bugs can’t take hold as easily.”
All I know is since I’ve had my kids on these vitamins they’ve never got the stomach flu. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
Next up daily: Udo’s Flora Infant Probiotics
Ah probiotics! One of my great loves. No joke! Everyone should be on a high quality probiotic! Especially after any antibiotic use. Starting as babies, probiotics help develops young guts to withstand the bugs this big ol world throws at em. Especially if a child is fed formula, probiotics are vital since they get less of them than nursing babies.
Tyrion had been on antibiotics so much from 6 months to two years old (probably once every 3 to 6 months at least?) that when I decided to really delve into natural remedies I knew his gut was in desperate need of being repopulated with good flora. We were in such a pattern of getting sick over and over because his body had nothing left to fight with. It was cleaned out. Completely. I added in Flora Probiotics sprinkled on top of organic Brown Cow yogurt every night before bed and was diligent (still am) about making sure he took them every evening. I gave him a few doses a day at first, and then after a month went to daily use. That, along with the other vitamins he’s now on was instrumental in healing his messed up tummy.
Many people with health issues, such as thyroid imbalances, chronic fatigue, joint pain, psoriasis, and many other conditions don’t realize that these illnesses originate in the gut. So get on probiotics! Udo’s also makes an adult version here. It’s completely tasteless. For the kids I love adding it to their yogurt or mixed in applesauce. They are none the wiser. Make sure if not using Udo’s that you purchase another high quality brand. Probiotics are alive but die over time or when exposed to heat. (I keep my stored in the fridge.) Many brands for sale have been shown to have half the bottle dead and thus useless. Do your research!
Winter Time Add In: Elderberry Syrup
The use of Elderberry dates as far back as ancient Greece! Hippocrates, or the “Father of medicine” as he is commonly called said elderberry was one of his favorite herbs because of it’s ability to treat so many different ailments. I add elderberry in the winter because some of it’s benefits include improving colds, the flu, sinus issues, nerve pain, inflammation, and chronic fatigue. No wonder its called a powerhouse herb!!! One more neat fact is its antioxidant power. Elderberry is higher in flavonoids than blueberries, cranberries, goji berries and blackberries!
One of the reasons I don’t use it year around is that it’s been said that using it constantly causes your body to develop an immunity to the effects. So a break of a few months in the summer makes sure this syrup gives you the results you’re after in the fall and winter!
I use the Gaia brand because it’s one of the best. I’ve done my research on brands and it comes out on top by my standards. With only five ingredients it’s potent and effective. You can make your own though, which would be equally good if not better! There are several recipes on pinterest for elderberry syrup. And you can purchase elderberries off Amazon.
I also whip up my Immune Boosting Gummy Bears (which include vitamin C) more often in the fall and winter. It’s another yummy way to make sure they’re getting enough of all that good stuff!
Colds & Ear Infections
Elderberry is great for cold prevention but what do you do once your kids get the sniffles? First off I up the elderberry syrup to twice a day. Really socking it to the virus. I love to give daily hot baths with a bit of lavender and eucalyptus essential oils (make sure they are grade A oils) added in the water to relax the kids and help break up all that congestions. Also a humidified should be running constantly. Dry air makes it harder for the body to release all the mucus as it tends to dry along the lining of the nose and sinuses. And when it can’t drain, ear infections and sinus infections don’t seem to be very far off.
I’ve purchased this humidifier twice now and love it!
I’m also a big believe in good ol Vicks! I slather it on their chests and the bottom of their feet each night before bed. Make sure to cover their feet with socks so it doesn’t get all over the sheets!
If your child is susceptible to ear infections like my son, I add this in immediately so there’s no chance an infection can develop. Remember, we are about prevention more than anything!
Yesterday was a prime example of why prevention is key. Our family has had colds this past week, but Tyrion’s symptoms went away so quickly I figured it was small enough I skipped the garlic oil. His ear infections always start the same way. He’s improved from a cold and acts back to normal, and then a day later bam, he’s feverish and his ear is killing him. That’s what happened yesterday. We went from happy to in pain and feverish within four hours.
I could have kicked myself for not just using the oil as a preventative. The reason why I didn’t? Because I didn’t want to fight Tyrion about it and hear him whine. Such a bad decision! I immediately gave him a dose of Little Remedies Fever & Pain reliever. It’s my favorite brand since they use no harmful dyes.
I added oil in both his ears, (though the infection was only in the right) and also applied a special salve inside his ear that I received from a friend who works for a naturopath. There are also several salves you can make yourself on Pinterest.
He tossed and turned, crying and sleeping on and off for about two hours. At hour three he said “Mom, my ear’s feeling better” and by 8pm he was running around like normal.
(Still sporting his favorite Halloween shirt 😉 )
I can’t express with words how much I’m grateful being equipped now to deal with his infections instead of having to watch him suffer through a doctor appointment, and a day and a half of waiting for antibiotics to kick in.
The stomach bug and tummy issues
The stomach bug, also called norovirus, is a nasty little thing.
Confession, I’ve had Emetophobia: the fear of throwing up, for years. Only after having kids and really digging in and researching was I able to conquer it. My philosophy is, if you’re fearful of something, learn all about it, know its ins and outs, understand how it works, and the fear dissipates, replaced by knowledge.
I’ve done a lot of research, and I’m so glad I can share it all with you! First off, some people’s guts are simply more susceptible to the norovirus that others. Some say it’s based on bloodtype, but I’m not going to get into that here.
I’ve only have the stomach bug once since about the time I turned 10, and it was three years ago when our whole family came down with it after a trip to Palm Springs. It was horrid! Days of being sick. Ugh. When I look back I can see the writing on the wall though. I didn’t want to pack our vitamins on the trip and so we traveled without them. Traveling almost always leads to a compromised immune system. So, traveling and not taking vitamins is a recipe for disaster.
Another contributing factor: I was applying hand sanitizer like crazy not even realizing that 99% of hand sanitizers sold don’t combat the norovirus!
99% of hand sanitizers sold don’t combat the norovirus! Isn’t that crazy?
— Eryn W (@ErynW2012) November 8, 2017
It’s bonkers! I mean really! One of the only sanitizers that does is Zylast. I’ve only been able to find it on Amazon and even then it’s not Prime so I have to pay shipping. But it’s worth it! I believe this is one of the key reasons we haven’t gotten sick. Unlike the common cold virus which dies on a surface after 24 hours, norovirus can live on a hard surface for over three months!!!!!! Did I just freak you out?
I don’t go anywhere without this stuff! I’ll sometimes even put it on my kids hands before going someplace germy because it’s said to kill for seven hours once applied to hands. We’re also diligent about washing hands after we get home from anywhere. Good hygiene is always rewarded!
If my kids ever complain of a stomach ache I whip up a batch of Gwen’s black applesauce. Her post was one of the first that really got me into researching the flu bug.
Black applesauce is simply activated charcoal and applesauce. Activated charcoal adsorbs the bacteria responsible for stomach bugs, helping to both prevent and treat it. It’s also great for a myriad of other tummy issues, including food poisoning.
I’ll give that to the kids, as well as put a little Digize Grad A essential oil on with belly with a carrier oil like Almond Oil. I’ll then have them lay down and rest for a few hours so I can monitor them well and see how they’re doing. I’ve done this several times and can’t say for certain it was the flu bug or just a stomach ache, but either way their issues were resolved in a few hours. I will repeat something Gwen said in her post, if a child vomits after ingesting the charcoal it’s extremely staining, so keep a bowl nearby! For young children use half a capsule of charcoal. For Tyrion, (age 4) I use a full one.
Sometimes you just can’t help it and the flu hits hard. When this happens it’s all about containment and cleaning. The virus is spread through vomit and fecal matter. It actually can stay in the stool for up to 10 days after the child is well as his or her body continues to shed the virus from the intestinal lining. That’s why it’s vital to make sure your child washes their hands well after each trip to the bathroom. Bathrooms should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized after the illness has done its damage.
If you’re still concerned about what I said earlier, (and you should be!) how the virus can live up to three months on surfaces, than you’re going to want to pay attention here. Bleach is about the only way to truly kill the virus. And the bottle shouldn’t be more than a month old for the best effect. It should also not be diluted with soap as the slickness of soap can make it so the bleach isn’t able to adhere to and clean whatever it is effectively.
But what about clothes, and blankets, and couches, you know, things that can’t be bleached?
Anything that can should be washed in extremely hot water and placed in the dryer on it’s hottest setting. If you can’t wash something, such as the furniture, than this peroxide spray and wipes also kills the virus!
Man oh man, I feel like that was a ton of info!!! But it was so fun for me, and important, to share it all! I hope you learned something new that can help your child the next time he or she comes down sick, as well as implement some of the preventative measures we talked about! If you have any more questions, please feel free to email me or ask them in the comments! If you have a question I’m sure others are thinking the same thing!