By Eve Lynn Kessner
Here’s what I found out when I was 26 years old, living in New York City, and scared sideways about being newly pregnant: Pregnancy and parenting don’t come with handbooks. What they do come with is a slew of wildly important decisions to make. I was ecstatic to be pregnant, but terrified of the responsibility. All the sudden, every SINGLE decision I made had a direct effect on another human being’s health. That was just too big for me to swallow.
So, I did what I always do when overwhelmed — I read. I read absolutely everything I could get my hands on. I read, and I read, and I read. And at the end of the 10 months (yes, pregnancy is 40 weeks long, very very long), I felt equipped, knowledgeable, I would even say ready.
I had decided to go the “natural” route. I was going to breastfeed (I was bottle fed), co-sleep (I was a crib baby), and avoid ibuprofen at all costs. I made my own baby food, carried my baby everywhere, and used amber for teething. Hippie stuff, I know, but it was safer in my eyes. Natural seemed, well, like the natural choice.
As my baby got older, and then I had a second little girl, I found I was becoming an expert in home remedies, and more and more friends were coming to me for suggestions for their colicky babies and teething toddlers.
Here are some of the holistic remedies that saved us over and over again:
Bar, my second child, was religiously colicky, Every. Single. Night., at 7 p.m. for about an hour. She would cry and cry, and nothing would soothe her. I tried turning the lights down, running the water in the bathtub (for the sound), and rocking her until my back hurt. She wouldn’t nurse or calm down for anything. Eventually, my Colombian babysitter (always well versed in the absolute best home remedies) suggested adding chamomile to Bar’s baths. So each night, at around 6 p.m., I would prepare a warm bath with chamomile tea bags or flowers soaking in it. I would often add lavender as well, to help make her sleepy on top of being calm. I swear — it worked. It had such a soothing effect on her energy; it was like magic. Even these days, my kids are now ages 5 and 2, and when they are particularly high energy (which is pretty often), I add 15-20 drops each of Roman Chamomile and Lavender essential oils to their bath.
Breast milk heals everything from baby acne to stuffy noses. Sounds crazy, I know, but I’ve used it to heal cuts and scrapes, clear up a stuffy nose (use one of those plastic syringes from the pharmacy to squirt it up), and to soothe insect bites. With its antibodies and anti-inflammatory qualities, it can be used in so many applications.
I’ve mentioned one way to use oils above, but I use so many in our daily lives. Eucalyptus in my kids’ bath when they are feeling stuffy, tea tree mixed into their baby lotion for any skin conditions or itchiness, orange oil to change the mood in my house (orange is a happy scent…try it!). I use peppermint in my water to calm an upset stomach, and tea tree in a spray bottle with water to disinfect hands and surfaces.
Teas and Tinctures
I use teas to manage our lives. Literally! Similar to essential oils they can serve as strong healers. Ginger and/or peppermint for upset stomachs. Green tea as a tonic for immunity and energy management. Chamomile for calming. (I used to put it in a bottle for the girls when they were still in the bottle age, to calm them when need be.)
I also have a home remedy when something is starting to brew, like a sore throat or tiny coughs. This remedy is another from my babysitter, but makes sense according to what I’ve learned along the way. It also seems to work every time! Both raw onion and garlic have serious anti-viral qualities. Cut an onion in half, and place it in a container with a top. Pour a tablespoon of raw honey over the top, cover it, and leave it out overnight. It’ll sweat and create a liquid at the bottom of the container. In the morning spoon a bit into your kids, yourself, anyone who needs to fight off a looming cold. It’s sweet and soothing on the way down (especially for sore throats), and kicks anything nasty to the curb.
I use it for everything — from a butter replacement in the kitchen, to a lotion, to a solution to clear eczema after a bath. Coconut oil is highly anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal. It’s also delicious and smells fantastic. Slather it on! Bread or bellies! It does the trick.
Eve Lynn Kessner is mom to two little girls, Avital and Bar, ages 5 and 2, a sometimes vegan, a holistic nutritionist, and focused on living a organic, chemical-free, natural life. “Making our home and our diets safe, healthy, and chemical free is no longer a goal, but a necessity. It feels good, clean, and ethical,” she says. Eve studied at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and counsels clients on food and lifestyle choices, helping them make cleaner, more responsible decisions. Eve is also a SoulCycle instructor, and an all-around dreamer and believer.