Look at any baby and whose heart does not melt. Babies bring out our most gentle behavior. We want to cuddle them, hold them, kiss them, and caress them. We fuss over them, want to protect them, and squirm each time our little loved ones produce so much as a sneeze. They are fragile, gentle little beings, born with an immature immune system. In this article I just want to give some gentle homeopathic remedies for commonly encountered conditions in babies and toddlers. Try homeopathy with common sense, talk to your physician about it, form a unit with your trusted doctor, and to your pleasure, both of you will learn from your experience. And the child’s Vital Force will be grateful to you for employing such a gentle stimulus to its natural healing action. I want to accentuate here that homeopathic remedies are very safe to use even in a one-day-old baby. Let’s jump on this wagon of joy and see how we can help these little beings who have just arrived from the warm cozy environment of the mother, suddenly pushed with great force through the birth canal to a cold and frightening world.
I might as well start with this rough ride through the birth canal. Can you imagine what such a little being must feel after swimming for nine months in perfect water temperature with plentiful nourishment, then to be suddenly pushed out through a narrow tunnel, getting squeezed, molded and bumped against hard bony structures? The experience must be traumatic, physically and emotionally. This roller coaster ride is frightening and can take the baby’s breath away, especially when it took a long time to come down and out.
Aconite is a great revival remedy after a fright, when the baby shows its typical symptoms: high fevers, restless sleep, great anxiety, sometimes nightmares, not to mention recurrent infections. After a long, hard labor not only the mother will be out of breath; the baby as well might be limp all over, with pale or bluish limbs, breathing too fast or not at all, creating a low Apgar score (a measurement of the baby’s vitality at birth, based on skin color, breathing, pulse, etc.). If you feel that the baby needs some extra oxygen, a dose of Carbo vegetalis will help it use oxygen more effectively. What a great step forward it would be if every obstetrician had this little remedy at hand. Maybe the physical trauma to the baby was also too much to bear: the baby may have bruises or a funny-looking “hat” on the its head from the suction cup of a vacuum extraction.
Arnica should be given almost automatically to any baby: it ensures the rapid absorption of blood that has leaked out under the skin. (It will also help the delivering mother with bruising in the birth canal and perineum; Bellis perennis is even better for this.) “O.K.,” says the baby, “I finally made it. It’s time to get me some food!” And the mother is quick to oblige. Breastfeeding has made a comeback, rightfully so, since no formula can replace Mother’s secret milk. (It is also cheap—there is no middle man, and as an added advantage, the cat can’t get to it!). The natural antibodies (especially in the colostrum, the first milk) are a blessing to the baby’s health.
To the horror of mothers, some babies vomit their milk (whether breast or cow’s milk) as soon as it is swallowed. Sometimes there is a mechanical reason for projectile vomiting, such as pylorus stenosis (a narrowing of the exit or pylorus of the stomach), which necessitates a simple lifesaving operation. But often this is not the case. This incessant vomiting of the milk, sometimes accompanied by a greenish diarrhea, is followed by total exhaustion and sleepiness of the baby, to the alarm of the mother and physician. A great remedy can work miracles here: Aethusa cynapium or fool’s parsley stops this vomiting, allowing the baby to absorb its nutrients and to gain weight and health.
“Great!” says the baby. “I am enjoying my life now, I can keep in my food, but for some reason I want to keep everything in, even my stool: I am constipated!” While you should consult your homeopathic physician for severe cases of constipation, for an occasional bout of constipation (often food-related)
Nux vomica is a great rescuer. Don’t give laxatives, which will require more and more to keep on working. Why? Because Nature’s Law tells us: “Every action is followed by an equal and opposite reaction.” A laxative’s initial reaction (causing looser stools) will inevitably be followed by a secondary opposite reaction: more constipation. And then to obtain the same result (a bowel movement) we need to keep increasing the dose or repeating it more often. Not so with Nux-v which works with the body’s own healing energy.
Certain babies have a tendency to constipation. You can recognize babies of this Calcarea carbonica constitutional type: a little fat and flabby with those great rosy cheeks, always wanting to eat (they hang at your breast because this is the great pacifier for them and they like snacking continuously), they sweat easily especially on forehead and in the hair, and they often have nightmares. (For a full description of this and other homeopathic types and remedies, see my book The People’s Repertory.) They often hold in their stool for days, apparently without any discomfort, but when they go, they fill the diaper with their massive hard stools. A homeopathic physician is needed in this case to administer the constitutional remedy Calc-carb. in a professional potency. Then this chronic constipation will go away.
“Allright, I have no more bruises, I am liking my breast milk now, and I have the diaper trick under control. But now you attack me with those injections at my tender age of three months. How do you call them: ah, yes, vaccinations. They are for my good, you say, to ward off all those awful diseases, polio, croup, diphtheria, measles and mumps. I know you mean well, but I know too many of my friends who react to these shots with fever, crying spells, and restless nights. I don’t want to mention the more serious rare consequences: deafness, blindness, and seizures.” Well, baby, we have something for you.
Somehow, most babies nowadays seem to be attacked by one illness: ear infections! It is the most frequently diagnosed condition in babies and young children, responsible for the outpouring of tons of antibiotics (and creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria). But are these antibiotics necessary? According to medical research, 85% of those ear infections are viral, not bacterial. In these cases not only do antibiotics fail to do any good, they actually delay the cure because they bring down fever. Fever is nothing but a fight between our white blood cells (our immune system) and viruses. For each degree of fever, millions of white blood cells are directed to the place of infection. By decreasing the fever (either through Tylenol or antibiotics) we stop that rescue mechanism and delay the cure according to own allopathic studies.
Often pediatricians say, “Your child has a mild ear infection.” I am very suspicious of this diagnosis. It often means that the ear drum does not look quite right, the parents are anxious, the doctor feels pressured to prescribe something, and so a diagnosis of “mild ear infection” is used to justify treating the child with antibiotics. A doctor examining a child’s ear with an otoscope looks like one of life’s last great mysteries. But what does he see? It’s so simple. A normal ear drum is pearly white. An infection in the middle ear (behind the ear drum) turns the ear drum red. But there are many shades between white and red. And the ear drum also turns red from other causes—fever, or the baby crying. And what child doesn’t cry when that otoscope is poked in his ears? Often the doctor cannot tell just by looking at the ear drum for a brief moment whether an ear infection is actually present. In a recent article, doctors said themselves said, “We are only sure of the diagnosis in 15% of the cases, the rest is hoping and praying!” Sounds like a very low batting average—and yet in almost 100% of the cases an antibiotic is prescribed. Physicians and parents would do well to learn some of the great homeopathic remedies for ear infections. I will cite some of the most common ones.
Pulsatilla is our number one remedy, especially for right-sided ear infections. The temperature is less than 103F and the child is thirstless (which is very unusual for someone who has fever). The child shows very clingy behavior, wants to be consoled, kissed and carried around, but is less contrary and capricious than the child who needs Chamomilla.
Chamomilla is popular remedy for teething and is also a top remedy for ear infections (mainly in the right ear). The child is besides himself with pain, wants to be rocked or carried, and shows a typical capricious behavior (“give me that” and then when you give it they throw it away). Nothing that the parent does can satisfy the child. The child is likely to have a red face and a fever below 103F.
Aconite is commonly used in the winter when a child has been exposed to a dry cold northeast wind (or a baby is taken out on a blustery day). The child feels fine when going to bed but wakes up screaming with pain around midnight, with a very high fever (up to 105F), very restless, thirsty hot all over the body. The pains are violent and burning and there is extreme sensitivity to the touch.
Aconite stands for the F’s: “Fast onset, Fulminant (strong picture), Fever, and Fright.” Aconite can be used for any condition with these symptoms, not just ear infections (for example, fevers, colds and sore throats).
We may not forget Belladonna for right-sided ear infections with a sudden onset of great pain either at 3 p.m. or 3 a.m. There is a high fever (105F), the face is flushed beet red and hot while the extremities are cold (unlike an Aconite condition, in which the whole body is hot). The baby is restless and agitated. Another remedy, for left-sided ear infections, is Ferrum Phos, with a high temperature, not agitated behavior. It is an excellent remedy in beginning stage and will prevent the formation of pus.
These are just some of the most common remedies for ear infections. Sometimes one dose is all the child needed. But if the child is still suffering, the dose can be repeated as often as every 15 minutes.
There are so many more instances where children can be helped by a single homeopathic remedy. Don’t forget Chamomilla for your teething child, Argentum nitricum and again Chamomilla for the colicky baby, Arnica for any fall or bruising, Calendula for any cut or open wound, Cantharis for a burn, even second degree, Borax for thrush, and Graphites for the inflammation of the eyelid with those little yellow crusts that stick the eyelashes together in the morning. I would advise parents and professionals alike to learn as much as possible about this gentle, effective and scientific medicine. You will see the magic of Homeopathy, and a rested, smiling child will be your reward!
For more information on remedies, potency and dosing, see “People’s Repertory”