Childhood Illness

Common Infant & Childhood Illness - Prevention & Treatment

By nature, infants and young children are far more prone to congestion, infections and digestive problems. Not only are their immune systems immature, but many of their organs and tissues are also immature, tiny and therefore prone to clogging and infection. Below is a list of natural prevention and treatment measures for infants and young children:

Breastmilk – the #1 prevention & treatment!
Breast milk passes on a myriad of antibodies the mother has accumulated over her lifetime (what vaccine can claim that!). In this way breastmilk naturally protects infants from many common illnesses. This symbiotic immunity is put to use everyday – when a mother kisses her child she ingests the germs present on babies skin, creates antibodies to it, then passes the antibodies on to bub through her breastmilk. Perfect! All the more reason to breastfeed and smother our babies in kisses.

Infants who aren't breastfed are:
4 times more likely to die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
8 times more likely to suffer from Necrotizing Enterocolitis (severe intestinal inflammatory disorder).
2.5 times more likely to suffer from Diarrhea.
2-4 times more likely to suffer from Respiratory Illness.
2 times more likely to suffer from Cancer.
4 times more likely to suffer from Respiratory Distress and Infections.
3 times more likely to suffer from Meningitis.
14 times more likely to be hospitalized in their first year.

Nutritents that boost yours & baby's immunity

Vitamin D – Vitamin D is one of the best known immune boosters, for example in studies high dose vitamin D is shown to be more effective at treating and preventing influenza than the influenza vaccine.
Because there is less sunshine during winter, our bodies produce less vitamin D, which in turn lowers immunity (hence we get sick more often during winter).

Vitamin C – Good sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons, tropical fruits like papayas, kiwis, and mangoes, and other fruits and vegetables such as cantaloupe, kale, strawberries, blueberries, yellow bell peppers and tomatoes. I personally have started giving our 3 boys (all under 6) 1000mg vitamin C each day in pill form, and the results are amazing, they are NEVER sick!

Zinc – Good sources of zinc are poultry, beans, cheese, yogurt and whole grain bread.

Vitamin A – Good sources of vitamin A include brightly coloured fruits and veggies such as carrots, apricots, papaya, mango, peaches, sweet potato, squash and pumpkin.

Garlic – Can be easily incorporated into baby's dishes.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFA's) – Avocados are a great source of essential fatty acids (EFAs).

Blueberries – Are a powerful immune booster and studies have shown that they are the best source of antioxidants of all fruits.

Turmeric – This spice has a rich, yellow colour. Don't worry, turmeric is not a 'hot' spice and is rather tasteless, so it's easily added to baby's food without baby noticing.

Foods to eliminate

Eliminate sugar – Sugar severely inhibits the immune system and increases mucus production. Natural, healthier alternatives to sugar include Agave and Stevia.

Eliminate other mucus producing foods – Foods most frequently associated with excess mucus production include: wheat, dairy products, sugar, eggs, refined carbohydrates, salt, pepper, sodas, strong spices and junk foods.

The mechanism by which these foods produce excess mucus is that they irritate and inflame the digestive organs. As a consequence excess mucus is produced, often followed by headaches, postnasal drip, sinus inflammation, digestive disorders, recurrent colds and ear infections.

Other basic measures

Wash hands frequently but avoid 'antibacterial' soap – When antibacterial soap dilutes with water it creates the perfect environment for bacteria to build resistance, eventually rendering the antibacterial agent useless to a super resistant strain of bacteria. No thanks!

Avoid second-hand smoke – Lowers immunity, aggravates colds, and damages lungs.

Avoid allergy triggers – Triggers include certain foods, pollen, dust, mold, animal dander, smoke, fumes, or other environmental toxins. Anything that irritates or inflames the mucus membranes (nose, mouth, esophagus, lungs, stomach, intestines, penis, vagina and anus) will stimulate excess mucus secretion.

Home air filters rid the air of allergy triggers, and are a great investment especially in your little ones room. Studies show many air filters have an almost 100% efficiency rating at capturing airborne irritants. 

Avoid contact with sick people, obviously – And wash hands after exposure.

Keep moving – Exercise is great for increasing the production of antibodies.

Natural antibiotics

Bacteria contains the genetic material to mutate and overcome synthetic antibiotics. However this is not the case with natural antibiotics! Hence many have been used for hundreds of years to fight infection:

High dose vitamin C – Intravenous vitamin C (ascorbic acid) has been used to treat viruses, serious bacterial infections, and even toxins such as snakebites since the 1930's. Intravenous vitamin C is also effectively used to treat swine flu, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio and AIDS.
At home high dose vitamin C powder can be added to your child's juice bottle, or administered in a concentrated liquid via syringe.

Garlic – Studies show garlic is as effective, and sometimes more effective, than traditional antibiotics.
Note: Cooking diminishes most of garlic's beneficial qualities, it must be ingested raw. Garlic juice may be a more palatable option.

Grapefruit seed extract – Citricidal is the natural antibiotic made from grapefruit seed extract. It is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial compound. It is effective against bacterial, fungal, viral and parasitic infections. Studies show it is much more effective than Colloidal Silver, Iodine, Tea Tree Oil and Clorox bleach against Candida albicans (thrush), Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella typhi, Streptococcus faecium and E. coli. 

Olive leaf extract – A well known anti-microbial agent, treats bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic infections. It is often used to treat the flu, colds, sinusitis, herpes, psoriasis and allergies.

Oregano oil – Studies show oregano oil is as effective as traditional antibiotics.

Blessed thistle – Has a very long history as an effective treatment for infection (among many other things), specifically it was used to treat fever, small pox and the plague.

Wild Indigo – A powerful natural antibiotic and anti-inflammatory herb. It's often taken to treat a sore throat, swollen glands, tonsillitis, bronchitis and mouth sores.

Colloidal silver – Bacteria have an enzyme system that is disrupted by the presence of silver ions, causing the organism to die. Colloidal silver was commonly used pre 1940's to treat bacterial infections, and today is used in water filters for its anti-bacterial effect. Colloidal silver destroys both good and bad bacteria, so probiotics need to be taken when the infection has cleared.

Manuka honey – A powerful antibacterial agent used to treat bacterial and fungal infections. It is often used to treat sore throats, stomach ulcers, acne, cuts, sores, burns and other wounds. In particular, it is the only substance available that can treat MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus), an antibiotic-resistant bacterium responsible for causing Staph infections. Like other natural antibiotics, manuka cannot be overcome by mutating bacteria, like synthetic antibiotics unfortunately do.

Note: Only some manuka honey is antibacterial. Look for the UMF rating on the packaging, which indicates the antibacterial strength of the manuka, and indicates that it has been tested and proven to have sufficient antibacterial levels. This site provides some great information, and shows you examples of approved medical grade manuka honey:

Treatment for Cough & Congestion

Vapour rubStudies show vapour rub is still a very effective method of reducing coughing and improving sleep. Vapour rubs are typically made from camphor, menthol and eucalyptus oil in a petroleum base.

Don't use store-bought cough remedies – Studies show most cough syrups are ineffective! Simple, logical methods aimed at boosting immunity and clearing mucus are shown to be most effective.

Create a steam room – Let the shower run hot and fill the bathroom with steam. Sit in the bathroom with baby for as long as you need. This will help loosen baby's congestion. After you're done, you may need to wipe baby's nose, or use a bulb syringe to gently suction mucus from baby's nose.

Saline (salt and water) nose drops – The saline will thin and loosen thick or dry nasal secretions and make them easier to blow or suction out. Saline drops can also be used for ear infections.

Suction baby's nose – Keep baby's nasal passages clear with a rubber-bulb syringe. Squeeze the bulb to expel the air. Then insert the tip of the bulb into baby's nostril, release pressure and allow it to suck the mucus out of baby's nose. Remove the syringe, expel contents, and repeat as often as needed. Clean the bulb syringe with soap and water. The bulb syringe can also be used to suction baby's ears if needed.

Keep baby's head elevated – This makes it easier to cough and promotes nasal / ear drainage. Carry baby upright in a wrap, sling, or carry pack whenever possible. When sleeping in bed, place a pillow under the head of baby's mattress to help elevate the head.

Use a humidifier in baby's room at night to keep the air moist – This will help prevent baby's secretions from drying out and clogging. Note: Care must be taken to check bedding for mold.

Give baby plenty of fluids – This will help thin secretions and prevent dehydration.

Lemon and manuka honey drink – This is recommended for children over one year: 1 part lemon juice to 2 parts honey mixed in a small amount of warm water. Manuka honey is a natural immune booster with anti-bacterial properties. When buying manuka honey, look for the UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) – the higher the value, the more potent the honey.

Note: A word of caution, honey is not meant to be given to children under one as it can create a condition called botulism.

Warm bath and gentle body massage – This can help soothe and relax an achy little body, while increasing circulation.

Vapour rub inhalation – Obviously this is recommended for older children, as a bowl of hot water is a burning hazard. This will help loosen mucus. Add a teaspoon of vapour rub to a bowl of steaming water. Have the child lean over the steam with a towel covering the head, breathing in the inhalation.

Specifically for ear infections…

Hygroscopic anhydrous glycerin – This product helps reduce pressure in the middle ear and promotes fluid drainage. It is available at pharmacies.

Apply heat – Place a warm water bottle or compress over the ear to relieve pain, improve circulation and help release blockages.

Ear candling – This is a method used to draw wax out of the ears, to relieve the feeling of fullness in the ear. Care must be taken not to burn the area around the ear or cause additional pain.

Do not feed baby lying down – Bottle fed babies are often left lying down in a crib or on their backs. Feeding an infant on its back can lead to regurgitation into the middle ear. If the head is resting too low, the milk can back up into the ears and provide a breeding ground for bacteria, causing infection.
It's advised to feed baby yourself, with baby sitting in an upright position. After feeding thoroughly burp baby, and keep baby in an upright position for at least half an hour after feeding.

Magnesium – Magnesium plays a significant role in the proper functioning of the inner ear. Good sources of magnesium are green vegetables such as spinach, black beans, peas, nuts, seeds, and whole, unrefined grains are also good sources of magnesium.

Natural ear drops – Recommended drops include garlic oil, onion water, mullein oil, tea tree oil, lavender oil and chamomile oil.

Note: If you are concerned that the ear drum has ruptured, it's recommended you do not drop the ear drop liquid directly into the ear canal. Instead warm a piece of cloth with warm water, drop the ear drops onto the center of the cloth, then insert the cloth just inside the ear canal. To keep the cloth in place, wrap a scarf or bandage around baby's head.

Digestive disturbances

Check and treat for thrush – Thrush bacteria in baby's gut releases gas as it feeds on the sugar baby ingests. Besides gas, it causes diarrhea, constipation, rectal itching, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), gastric acid reflux disease (GERD) and food sensitivities.

Thrush is very common in baby's and their mother's, and both mum and babe should be checked and treated at the same time to get rid of the bacteria for good, and avoid continually passing the bacteria back and forth. See below for info on treating thrush.


Grapefruit Seed Extract – Recommended as the first line of defense against thrush. It is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial compound. It is effective against bacterial, fungal, viral and parasitic infections. Studies show it is much more effective than Colloidal Silver, Iodine, Tea Tree Oil and Clorox bleach against Candida albicans (thrush), Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella typhi, Streptococcus faecium and E. coli. If used diligently, it typically will clear up thrush in a couple of days.

Cider Vinegar – Fantastic for any type of thrush and improvement is seen in a couple of days. It can be applied to the nipples undiluted, but it's recommended to dilute it for use on baby's delicate skin.

Gentian Violet – For nipple and oral thrush, use a q-tip to paint entire nipple twice a day until baby's mouth and mum's nipples are improved. Baby will ingest the gentian violet when he sucks on the coated nipples. Repaint nipples after feedings. You can also swab the interior of baby's mouth with a gentian violet soaked q-tip aswell. Note: Gentian violet stains clothing, use rubbing alcohol to remove stains.

Eliminate Sugar – Thrush bacteria thrives on the sugar baby ingests.

Probiotics – These are beneficial, live bacteria that populate the gut so there's no room for the bad bacteria, like the one that causes thrush. One of the easiest ways to feed baby probiotics is to sprinkle a probiotic supplement through plain yoghurt. Natural sources of probiotics are yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, tempeh, miso, sauerkraut, kim chi (similar to sauerkraut) and brewer's yeast.
Another option is to brew your own breastmilk yoghurt using a live culture. Here's a recipe!:

Further treatment for gas

Feed baby breastmilk – Formula-fed babies tend to spit up more, be constipated more, have more gas, be more colicky and have more intestinal illnesses.

Maintain a good latch – Make sure baby has a nice tight seal around your nipple. Listen for clicky sounds as baby feeds, this often indicates bub's latch is allowing air in each time he swallows, which is another common way gas builds up in bubby's tum.

Avoid bottlefeeding – Babies almost always swallow more air when drinking from a bottle rather than mum's nipple. When using bottles, use slow-flow teats, feed baby in an upright position (no lying down), make sure baby has a good seal on the teat, and tilt bottle up so baby never accidentally swallows air.

Burp, burp and burp some more – Burp baby before, during and after feeding.

Keep baby upright after feed – The easiest way to do this is to 'wear' baby in a back / front pack, sling, or wrap.

Don't let baby cry – When baby's cry they swallow air, so crying is often the cause of gas, rather than the result of gas. No 'cry-it-out' please!

Massage – Use gentle, circular motions on baby's stomach and back. This helps to relieve gas, increases blood circulation and relaxes muscles. Cycling baby's legs is also helpful.

Warmth – Whether it's a warm bottle, warm bath, warm wheat bag or hot water bottle over baby's tum, warmth will relax and ease the intestines, letting the baby pass gas more easily.

Herbal tea infusions – Great herbs include fennel, catnip, ginger, chamomile, and peppermint. Note: Remember that herbal teas are not substitutes for regular meals.

Avoid infant medicine containing simethicone – Studies show simethicone is no more effective than taking nothing at all!


Feed baby breastmilk – Breastmilk is a natural laxative.

Foods that make you go – Food suitable for babies are prunes, plums, peaches, pears, peas, apricots, spinach, ground oatmeal, millet and brown rice.

Fresh fruit juice – Use the above fruits. Note: Do not substitute these juices for normal feeds.

Foods to eliminate – Meat, dairy, rice cereal, white bread, pasta, corn, potatoes, carrots, bananas and applesauce.

Flax oil – Add a teaspoon of flax oil to baby's meal. Flax oil is a natural laxative and a source of omega-3 fats.

Magnesia – Add magnesia to the baby's meals.

Massage – Use gentle, circular motions on baby's stomach and back. This helps to relieve gas, increases blood circulation and relaxes muscles. Cycling baby's legs is also helpful.

Warmth – Whether it's a warm bottle, warm bath, warm wheat bag or hot water bottle over baby's tum, warmth will relax and ease the intestines, letting the baby pass stools more easily.

Smaller and more regular feedings

The cruder option – Squirting a little olive oil or rubbing a little vasoline inside baby's anus helps get things moving too.


Wait it out Fever's are part of the body's natural defense mechanism to fight infection by creating an inhospitable environment for viruses and bacteria (body temperature above 100 degrees F), and by accelerating the production of disease-fighting white blood corpuscles. Provided fevers stay within an acceptable temperature range, fevers should be left to unfold at their own pace.

Monitor closely – Try to keep the fever below 103 degrees F. If the fever can't be kept lower than 103 degrees F, it's advised to seek medical help. If the fever lasts more than 3 days it's also advised to seek medical help.

Keep baby hydrated – Fevers by nature induce sweating hence dehydration is always a risk. If baby is newborn, a sunken fontanelle indicates possible dehydration. Also check for dry lips, lack of urine in nappy, and strong smelling urine. Babies need to have around 8 wet nappies per 24 hours. Breastmilk is ofcourse always the best hydration, usually small, regular feedings work best. Even if you have to use a dropper, every spoonful counts.

Don't force food – Naturally appetite is suppressed when you have a fever, it's better to focus on getting small, regular amounts of liquid into bub.

Herbal teas – Elderflower is known as one of the best remedies to reduce fever. Besides treating fever it's also an effective treatment for allergies, infection and congestion. It's often available as an extract, syrup or loose tea. Other herbs include angostura bitters, gentian, catnip, yarrow flowers, belladonna, pulsatilla, and peppermint.

Paracetamol (also called Aacetaminophen) – Should be used to be treat fever only as a last resort, if herbs cannot be obtained. In a recent study it was found that 90% of the children who were given paracetamol before the age of 15 months were three times more likely to have allergies, and two times more likely to have asthma at six years of age, as compared to those who didn't have paracetamol.

Avoid sugar – Sugar severely inhibits the immune system. Stick to breastmilk or natural fruit juices.

I know there's many other infant and childhood illnesses of concern, but for now I hope this information on the common illnesses will be of some benefit.

Ask Dr. Sears: Immune System Boosters
Best Foods to Boost Baby's Immune System
10 Ways to Boost Immune Health
Benefits of Vitamin C
Garlic as an Antibiotic
Mother Nature's Natural Germ Fighters
Natural Antibiotics
Pneumonia & Bronchitis - Natural Alternatives to Antibiotics
Natural Antibiotics that Fight Infection
Manuka Honey - Nature's Antibiotic Wound Healer
Is Manuka Honey a Good Alternative to Antibiotics?
Most Potent Natural Antibiotics
Preventing Colds, Flus, and Infections
Common cold in babies
Common Cold in Babies
Preventing Illness in Newborns
All Natural Ways To Treat Your Baby's Cold
Olfactory mucosa
Air Filter Test
Vapor rub still an effective cold remedy for children
Ear Infection
Ear Infection Pain Relief
How to Aspirate an Ear Infection
Ear Infections
Magnesium Rich Foods
Home Remedies for Ear Infections
Pediatric Fever: Treatment & Medication
The Importance of Fever
Thrush, Identification and Treatment
Q&A: Preventing Thrush
Yeast and Thrush
What Foods Contain Probiotic
Could yeast be disturbing your digestion?
Breastmilk Yoghurt for Babies
My baby is gassy. Is this caused by something in my diet?
Dairy and other Food Sensitivities in Breastfed Babies
Infant Gas Remedies
Baby Constipation At-Home Cures
Newborn Constipation Remedies
Foods That Cause Constipation
Dr. Sears: Guide to the Top 7 Infant Illnesses

The effects of early and late paracetamol exposure on asthma and atopy

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