Mamas & Babies: Building Immunity and Wellness  

 

 

 

This is the time to back off of outer responsibilities & tune in to our inner need for self-care.  Honor this time of Rest & Recoup, and know that we are doing the important work of modeling this self-care behavior for our children, & building their immunity.

 

Herbal baths are essentially soaking in a big cup of tea, and can work wonders for babe’s growing Immune & sensitive Nervous systems.

Massaging baby’s feet with a baby friendly, immune boosting, anti-microbial Massage Oil, can enhance the work of the immune system.  This is great to do anytime, but especially before bath or bed. 

 

 

All of these are soothing remedies for illness or anytime:  as tea or bath, but also used as glycerite or tincture.  Great to grow in your garden.

 

 

REST as much as possible, even it means calling a friend over to hold or play with baby for an hour or 2, so you can take a nap.  * This is especially important if not sleeping well in the night.   Don’t forget that your friends would love this opportunity to spend time with your precious bundle!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jen Bredesen is an amazing herbalist who teaches at the California School for Herbal Studies and is a regular visitor at our Mothering Arts circle (click here to start a circle in your community). She has offered us this in depth, yet practical guide to support your and your family when building immunity at home.

When facing cold & flu season, remember that our bodies are designed to handle & benefit from these challenges.  When we can back off of regular life & rest for a couple of days, tune into our inner rhythms and our body’s request for self-care, the body responds by building strength & immunity--& so does baby’s.  Our babes are an extension of our immunity.  It’s often as simple as Mama doubling up on her fluids, taking lots of warm soup, REST & a few key herbal remedies.  This is the time to back off of outer responsibilities & tune in to our inner need for self-careHonor this time of Rest & Recoup, and know that we are doing the important work of modeling this self-care behavior for our children, & building their immunity.

At the 1st sign of a cold or flu for mama or babe…  Mama can:

  1. Increase her Fluids: drink extra water & make tea.  Also offer water to babe, & babe-friendly tea perhaps (Chamomile, Catnip, Lemon Balm, Lavender, Rose, Fennel) 
  2. Big pots of Ginger Tea & a warm Brothy Soup (miso veg &/or chicken)
  3. Rest
  4. Echinacea tincture in frequent doses--1 ml hourly or 1tsp 2-3x/day--for the 1st day [then may slowly decrease dosage over subsequent days]

Notes on tincture dosing: 1ml=double pumped dropper.

  • Mother’s milk is the safest & most effective way to administer herbs to small infants.
  • If taking tincture: Mom takes adult therapeutic doses to get the proper dosage for babe via the breastmilk.
  • If drinking therapeutic herbal tea: Mom drinks 1qt/4c of the tea daily.
  • Nursing your babe frequently is generally all that’s needed to support their immunity, as they are directly receiving the herbs & the antibodies to everything Mama’s been exposed to. Cuddle up in bed, skin-to-skin & let them nurse as much as they want.
  • Teas (@ room temp) can be given directly in a dropper.
  • If not nursing, tiny babe-sized doses of tincture/glycerite can be administered in water, breastmilk or formula. See dosing strategies below.

HERBAL ALLIES FOR COLD & FLU:  Immune Boosters 

* Echinacea Antiseptic, Anti-microbial, Anti-viral, Immunostimulant.  Highly valued by Native North Americans, it is safe for babes, and a most potent immune herb.   It fights infection, boosts the immune system and cleanses the lymphatic system.   It is wise to have some tincture &/or glycerite on hand for quick response—which is how it works best!   It does lose some of its potency over time, so fresh each year is best—but you will no doubt use it!  (If you have some older tincture just up the dosage.)

àTo useDosage info/Echinacea-specific dosing strategy:  Start it as soon as possible & dose high &/or frequently especially on the first day, to get the message to you immune system that there is something to work on.  For the 1st day Mom takes 1 ml hourly or 1tsp 2-3x/day.  Dosage may slowly decrease over subsequent days to 1-2ml, 3-5 times/day.  So the range for Momma is: 1-3 dropperfuls, 3-5xs daily, for 3-7 days.

For Babe(optional) 1-5drops of tincture or glycerite per 5# body weight.  [Ex.  15# babe could take 3 drops for mild symptoms, and up to 15 drops for more severe symptoms.]  Give drops diluted (in small amount of water, breast milk or Chamomile or Catnip tea) at nursing time via a dropper, on a fingertip, on the nipple or in a bottle of pumped milk.

My personal experience:  0-6mo rarely gave tincture directly, but relied on taking my own mama doses & nursing frequently.  If I felt an extra boost was needed, I gave the infant 1 drop on my nipple at nursing time when under 3mo (in addition to taking my mama doses myself & nursing frequently) and 1-2 drops when 3-6mo to really fight something concerning.  6-12mo gave 3-5 drops in breastmilk or Chami tea (+ my own mama doses & nursed frequently).  We didn’t have any really concerning symptoms, so kept my dosage low-moderate.  1-2yrs gave 5-10 drops tinc in tea with Elderberry syrup or glyc in water.  When faced a more severe illness gave 10-15 drops at a time to toddler.

* Elderberry & flower   Anti-viral, Immunotonic.  Elderberry is a wonderful immune-strengthening cold-n-flu preventative.  Can be used daily in the winter as an immune tonic for the whole family.  For babe’s dosing see chart above.  [Black Elderberry—variety is important. Do not use the native Red Elderberry.]

Elderflower tonifies & strengthens mucous membranes.  Supports immune function especially in the upper respiratory system, & helps with fevers.  This is great during times of fever as tea & in a bath or as a compress (cloth dipped in tea and lay on forehead or sponge bath).  Also good as a tonic tea for routinely congested babes.

To useDosage infoMom can have tea or take Elderberry glyc/syrup 1ml-1tsp daily, 1-3x/day.  Babe can have a lil tea (1-2 ml/dropperfuls), Toddler 1-2 tsp (see TEA dosage info); or 1-5drops of tincture/glycerite per 5# body weight.

* Rosehips  The fruit of the Rose, these plant allies are high in Vit C, tasty tart, and great immune boosters--before & during an illness.  The hips are anti-bacterial & anti-viral, anti-inflammatory & deeply nutritive.

To use:  It’s food!  I love using fresh, dried or getting it in the powdered form & sprinkling it on oatmeal, yogurt, or at the end of a soup when boiling is done.  Also great as a tea or in other teas.  Fresh rosehips can also be eaten raw—boosting mom’s immunity.  Nibble the outside layer carefully, or best to cut in half & scrape out irritating hairs before eating or drying them.  Bigger hips will have more edible flesh then small hips.  When making tea from them, use a fine strainer or layer of fabric to filter out hairs.  [Avoid using Rosehips or flowers that have been sprayed with toxic chemicals, i.e. roses from the florist, your neighbors, etc]

Dosage infoMamas eat 1 tsp of Rosehip jam daily to boost immunity.  Can take more when fighting something.   Take at each Echinacea dose to improve efficacy.  Babes that are adept at eating foods can have a taste on a finger, or a small amount mixed in with food.  Tea for babes: 1-2 ml/dropperfuls. Toddler 1-2 tsp.

* Make immune-boosting Rosehip jam by putting Rosehip powder in a jar 1/3 full, (or Rosehips cut in half, deseeded & dried, ½ full) then topping off with Apple juice & stirring well with a chopstick.  Leave out on counter overnight, then move to fridge.  Enjoy on oatmeal, toast, yogurt or applesauce, or with savory proteins as more of a tart chutney.  Will keep for 3 weeks in the fridge, always use a clean utensil.

 

HERBAL ALLIES FOR COLD & FLU:  Digestive Nervines

All of these are soothing remedies for illness or anytime:  as tea or bath, but also used as glycerite or tincture.  Great to grow in your garden.

* Catnip leaves & flowers  Anti-spasmodic, Carminative, Relaxant, Febrifuge.  Relaxing digestive nervine.  Releases tension in muscles & digestive tract.  Good flu & fever remedy. Helps with the achiness of flu and the pain of teething.  Easy to grow!  Nice tea with Chamomile or Lemon Balm. Delightful bath.

*Chamomile flowers Relaxant, Anti-microbial, Anodyne.  Calms the nerves & relaxes the body.  Good for restlessness, irritability, insomnia & agitation.  Reduces pain.  Settles tummy.  Reduces nausea & vomiting.  Peter Rabbit’s mama knew to give him a spoonful of Chami tea before bed after his stressful run-in with Mr McGreggor.

*Lemon Balm leaves & flowers  Calming, Uplifting nervine. Anti-viral, Anti-septic. Yummy fragrant digestive nervine.  Helps calm crankiness & settle anxious unrest.  Great fresh!  Good dried, if dried carefully without bruising.   Delicious with Rose or Rosehips.

*Rose Petals  Gentle, soothing nervine.  Feels good!  A fave in the bath—sprinkle the petals from 1 rose!  Delicious glycerite.  Gently anti-microbial, including antifungal.  Expectorant, good for breaking up congestion & dry mucus. Gentle astringent helps with diarrhea.  [Avoid using Rosepetals or flowers that have been sprayed with toxic chemicals, i.e. roses from the florist, your neighbors, etc]

 

 OTHER KEY THINGS Mom can do to support her Family’s Immune Function when facing a cold/flu~

NUTRITIONALLY:   plenty o’ warm Fluids, EFAs!, Protein, Leafy Greens, Colorful Produce, Probiotic foods & drinks (sauerkraut, kim chee, miso; kvass, kefir, kombucha,,,).  Add Shiitakes & Garlic to cooking (my babe wouldn’t tolerate me eating garlic for 1 yr, but many are fine with it).  * Add Astragalus to broths, soups & grains during cold & flu season to build deep immunity, but Not during an active cold or flu.

LIMIT/AVOID:   refined sugars & sugary foods, dairy, alcohol, bad-quality fats, cooked oils/fried foods, mucus-forming & processed foods. >

REST as much as possible, even it means calling a friend over to hold or play with baby for an hour or 2, so you can take a nap.  * This is especially important if not sleeping well in the night.   Don’t forget that your friends would love this opportunity to spend time with your precious bundle!

CANCEL any non-urgent activities   See if a friend to do a store run for key groceries when they go to do their own shopping.  **Any extra rest for you is KEY!  Great creative & resourceful.   You will need your endurance & they need your immunity

BOOST IMMUNITY when going to the doctor’s office (Elderberry booster).  Remember this is where sick children & adults come, so this could be a higher germ exposure time, especially if your Little is compromised.  Coughs are especially concerning; so protect your babe from coughing patients in the Doc’s office.  Bring your own toy/books if feeling vulnerable.

Tea:

--For leaves & flowers--1 rounded tsp herb per cup boiling water or 1-2 heaping Tbsp per quart.  Steep covered 5-10min.  Strain.

--For berries & Echinacea—1 tsp per cup, simmer covered for 10 min.

Dosage info—give infant 1-2 ml of tea, 6mo-1yr gets ½ tsp, & mom drinks the rest, reserving a shot glass worth for additional infant doses.  1-2 yrs gets 1-2 tsp, 2 yrs & up gets ¼ cup or more

Mom drinks 4-6c daily.

Glycerite/ Tincture:

To useDosage info:  Nursing Momma 1-3 dropperfuls, 3-5xs daily.

For Babe (optional, if nursing) 1-5drops of tinc/glyc per 5# body weight.  [Ex.  15# babe could take 3 drops for mild symptoms, and up to 15 drops for more severe symptoms.]  Give drops at nursing time via a dropper, on a fingertip or nipple, or in a bottle of pumped milk or Chamomile/Catnip tea.

For tiny babe-- Can dilute 1:3 with water, then give 1-3 drops to infant.  [Optional:  Can make a diluted dosage bottle if dosing regularly.  {Dilute tincture will have a shorter shelf life, so do this only when dosing frequently, not for storage.] 

Herbal Baths & Compresses: 

These are my fave!  Herbal baths are essentially soaking in a big cup of tea, and can work wonders for babe’s growing Immune & sensitive Nervous systems.  Make a pot of tea, reserve some for drinking, then cool to bath temp & put them in it.  Alternately, to make a compress: wet a cloth in the tea & wipe their brow/skin with it.  If they are feverish/chilled, you may need to dry it quickly after, so they don’t get chilled too quickly.  Some will still be absorbed via the skin with this technique.

* Fave bath herbs for Colds & Flus:  Catnip, Chamomile, Lemon Balm, Roses, & Lavender (calming, skin soothing, anti-inflamatory), Calendula (immune boosting, skin ally), Rosemary (decongesting, germ fighting), Hops (deeply calming, rest inviting), Marjoram (eases agitation & tension)

* Oatmeal can be added to a bath sock to soothe nerves & skin.  Alone or in addition to herbs to soothe, relax, fight germs &or support immunity.

* Make herbal bath socks:  In a big bowl mix oats & dried herbs.   Fill large muslin bag 2/3 full.

*To use:  Make a tea with bath sock as the tea bag.  Allow tea to steep in hot water in a bowl or partially filled tub/sink.  Steep for ~10min, activating the properties in the herbs and oats, while prepping for the bath.  Add water to cool bath to bathing temp and add the Baby.   Squeeze soothing oat sock to release nutrients, then use nourishing sock as a bath sponge.  After Bath, compost herbs, turn bag inside out to rinse & wash.  Bath bag can be refilled & reused. 

Foot Massage:

Massaging baby’s feet with a baby friendly, immune boosting, anti-microbial Massage Oil, can enhance the work of the immune system.  This is great to do anytime, but especially before bath or bed.  WARNING:  Essential Oils/EOs are highly concentrated herbal medicines.  Please do not use EOs with your baby except the specific types & the ways I am suggesting here.  While they are convenient & smell great, the wrong ones in too high a dose could easily become toxic to tender babe.

* Best Essential Oils for babe’s immunity:  Ravintsara/Ravensara, Lavender, Sweet Marjoram, Rosemary, Blue Chamomile, Tea Tree, Rose (may be cost prohibitive)  Variety is important onà Eucalyptus radiata, Thyme linalol, Hyssop decumbens, Green Myrtle    

 **  It’s Important to use Therapeutic Quality EOs; not all EOs are equal in terms of quality.  [some high quality examples are: Simplers (local), dhyana, Floracoepia, Oshadhi, Veraditas] 

Make immune boosting massage oil:  Dilute 1-10 drops of therapeutic quality Essential Oil in 1oz carrier oil.  Generally 1-2 drops each of 1-3 EOs, I prefer pairs.   In class we did 1-3 drops in 1/3oz vial (10ml).

-Congested Babe blend:   Rosemary & Eucalyptus radiata (or green Myrtle)

-Babe with family in school (lots of exposure):  Ravensara & Lavender (or Rosemary or Thyme linalol)

-Restless babe/spasmodic cough:  Sweet Marjoram & Lavender (or Thyme linalol for cough)

-Flushed child/fevery: Lavender & Blue Chamomile

-Cranky Babe blend:  Chamomile & Rose

Additional Resources/Books:

My faves:
* Naturally Healthy Babies & Children  Aviva Jill Romm MD
* Herbal Remedies for Children’s Health  Rosemary Gladstar
* An Encyclopedia of Natural Healing for Children & Infants Dr Mary Bove ND
* Vaccinations:  A Thoughtful Parent’s Guide  Aviva Jill Romm  -- great herbal section in the back working with childhood diseases.  Also good descriptions of the common childhood diseases to familiarize yourself.
 
Others I reference:
Medical Herbalism  David Hoffmann Ch 24 Kids
Family Herbal Rosemary Gladstar
Nature’s Children  Juliette de Bairacli Levy
Herbal Treatment of Children Anne McIntyre
Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child  Janet Zand ND Lac & Robert Roundtree MD
 
*The information provided here is for educational purposes only, and should not be used to diagnose and treat diseases. If you have a serious health problem, we recommend that you consult a competent health practitioner. Finally, we wish to caution you that the information on this web site is for educational purposes only. Always consult with a qualified health practitioner before deciding on any course of treatment, especially for serious or life-threatening illnesses.*

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