I bet you’ve all been attacked by one bug or another so far this winter. Coughs, colds, sneezes and sniffles leap out at unsuspecting humans as the chill sets in and long walks in the cold drop down our defences. So here are some ace ideas to keep the colds at bay, or soothe them away, without spending a fortune on expensive medicines or risking strange chemicals in their little systems.
Damp towels are a fantastic alternative to expensive humidifiers. No, they are not as steamy, sure, but unless you’re fighting croup or whooping cough, they are a great way of keeping the air moist in your child’s bedroom. Drape them over the radiator and remember to change them when they dry out.
Honey is another great soother for a sore throat and a cough. Just make sure that you don’t give it to children under a year old. A spoonful of honey by itself will coat the throat and ease some of the symptoms. Alternatively you can mix it with lemon juice (three to four lemons nicely squeezed), some hot water and then sip it slowly. Lemons have a fabulously high Vitamin C ratio which make them great for helping your body to repel the germs.
If you and your kids are suffering from a blocked and stuffy nose one of the best ways to hasten the cold along is to (wait for it) blow your nose regularly. It sounds terribly obvious and, if you’re a parent of a child under five, somewhat impossible to achieve. My child just can’t get it right which is very frustrating! There are some great tips here at Netmums on how to teach them to do it.
Hot drinks are also a proven way of easy nasal congestion and preventing dehydration (well, obviously). The warmth of the drink will ease your inflamed membranes in your nose and throat, and it is a fantastic excuse to drink copious quantities of hot chocolate. Avoid drinking coffee and other caffeinated drinks, though, as those will actually make it worse, instead grab some herbal teas (like Chamomile) and enjoy their health benefits at the same time.
If the damp towels are not really helping with a heavy cough and nose, a steamy bathroom will do the trick. Run a very hot bath, seal the windows and doors – try rolling up a towel or two to block any exits – and sit in the bathroom with your child and show them how to breathe deeply and slowly. You can then use the water to have a nice hot bath once it’s cooled down sufficiently!
Another fab tip that was given to me by a doctor friend of mine is to take a damp cloth and bung it in the microwave for a bit. You don’t need those fancy microwavable packs, just take the cloth, ensure it isn’t too hot, and then place it on your nose to ease the pressure and congestion. If the heat doesn’t work, try using frozen peas instead. Cold can be just as effective as heat in this case.
Chicken soup. Oh yes, this is no old wives tale. Chicken soup has scientifically proven properties that ease the symptoms of a nasty cold. Whip up a batch of home soup and freeze it up for using when the colds strike, or get in some tins if the idea of cooking makes you cry. Tinned chicken soup does the job just as well, amazing but true. Chicken soup has anti-inflammatory powers and helps to speed up the movement of mucus, easing congestion for a short period of time.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, or if baby has colic, chamomile is the way to go. It is a mild relaxant and sedative that can help you to sleep, plus it is great for upset stomachs – easing the symptoms gently. For yourself, make a strong cup of tea and drink it while it’s hot, for little ones, check with your health visitor as to the best way to prepare and dilute it for their little systems.
Garlic is one big (and very smelly) cure in one. It has antibacterial and antiviral properties that will help to reduce the symptoms of colds and flu and give your body much needed tools to fight off infection. Whip up a very garlicky dinner and get it down everybody’s throats. Or, if you’re the tough sort, chomp a clove or two every day. Possibly warn people if you’re going to do that though…
Then whip your ginger out, slice it, and pour some hot water on it. The amount of ginger you use is up to your personal taste (and the age of your child) but it is great for easing head and chest congestion. In fact, you can find a bunch of great recipes using garlic, ginger, lemon and salt on the web – all of which combine powerful natural remedies to create one big cold killer.
So if you’re stuck in the snow and nowhere near a chemist, and your family is coughing and sneezing and feeling vile, then you probably have all the ingredients you need to help everyone feel better right there, right now!