When you call your doctor’s office because your baby has a fever, the first question asked is inevitably: have you given your child any children’s Tylenol? As a mom, this creates panic by insinuating that the fever is bad. But maybe not.
When looked at holistically, a fever is the body’s natural defense system fighting off foreign invaders and strengthening our immune system. A baby’s fever allows them to create their own natural line of defense against diseases.
Suppressing the fever does not allow this natural immunity to grow. Yes, it takes more energy, way more in fact, in supporting your child while they battle out a fever. But monitoring and helping them through a light fever in the long run will reap the benefits. They will become more immune and get sick less often as they grow up, if we can support them in a healthy way.
A baby’s fever allows them to create their own natural line of defense against diseases.
A fever can indicate many different things, usually a symptom associated with a viral or bacterial infection. It is always good to check in with your child’s pediatrician or health care provider to rule out any major infections or something more serious.
Once it has been determined that this is more of a common cold or flu virus and you decide you want to treat it with a more holistic approach, below are a handful of options that I have found very helpful when treating my own daughter. I did many hours of research and read many blogs but ended up mostly following the advice from my own mother, who raised all four of her children holistically.
- Sponge baths – Fill your bathtub with room temperature water and then set your child in the bath and sponge them off for 10-15 minutes. Their temperature will usually fall 1-2 degrees and will make the child more comfortable, while still allowing the body to fight naturally. Make sure the child does not get the chills. If you don’t have a bathtub, hold the child and take a room temp shower with them. When my child is really sick, I usually take a bath with her and it makes the whole experience go a lot smoother! Do this as many times as you need until the fever breaks. This may mean up to six baths a day/night.
- Essential oils – There are a few key oils you can use to help lower a fever: lavender, lemon and peppermint. Any of these oils can be rubbed on the bottom of your child’s feet to relieve the fever. Just give them a little foot massage after each bath or every two hours. With the peppermint oil you can also trace a line of the oil down their spine. Make sure you dilute the oils with a carrier oil, (fractionated coconut oil, regular coconut oil, sesame oil, or olive oil work just fine) as the essential oils are very strong for babies who have very delicate and sensitive skin.
Monitoring and helping them through a light fever in the long run will reap the benefits. They will become more immune and get sick less often as they grow up, if we can support them in a healthy way.
- Cool compress – While your child lays there, a cool compress can really help. I have noticed that the head and neck are great places to keep a cool cloth on. Their feet may also get really hot, so try putting some damp cool socks on them or wrapping their feet in a wet washcloth.
- Hydration – If your child is still nursing, nurse as much as you can! Don’t put your child on a schedule or worry about nursing too much. The more liquid you can give your little one, the better. Their little bodies are fighting hard and using up a ton of water, so keep replenishing their supply. Plus, all your antibodies are pumping through your milk, which will help your little peanut fight the bug, as well.If your child does not nurse anymore, get them to take little sips of water every few minutes. You can also have older children suck on ice chips or make them their own special popsicles. Cut grapes into half pieces and freeze them, these make great treats for the older kiddos, while also providing hydration. Broths are also great for most age groups because they are full of vitamins and minerals. If you notice your child isn’t drinking much of anything and does not have wet diapers or is not peeing much, call your doctor right away.
The more liquid you can give your little one, the better.
- Clothing – Keep the room at a comfortable temperature, not too hot and not too cold. Dress your child in lightweight clothes that can easily be taken off and put back on. My child loves to be mostly naked, but when she is sleeping, I drape a thin muslin blanket over her to keep the chill off. Just make sure that they are as comfortable as they can be, and are not chilled or overheated by what they are or are not wearing.
- Homeopathy – These remedies work wonders, however it is really important that if you are not educated in homeopathy, that you find someone who is, to help you out. Each symptom needs to match the remedy given in order to be the right fit. These days I see these remedies being generalized into helping “a cough,” “a fever,” “cramps.” However, there are many different kinds of symptoms that may arise from any one of these ailments, like a dry cough vs a wet productive cough, which should be treated differently. Finding the remedy that matches the specific symptoms that are present, is key to finding a remedy that will work. It is not one size fits all. If you have a homeopath in your area I highly recommend using them to help. A few common fever remedies are Belladona, Pulsatilla, Hep. Sulf. and Aconite. I have had a lot of success when using Homeopathy remedies. They are safe for any age and have no side effects. They work with the body to help fight whatever is causing the disturbance.
Rest – Let your child rest and sleep as much as they want, this is the best medicine. At night, make sure they are close to you so you can keep an eye on them. Take their temperature regularly and know that you may need to get up and do a sponge bath or two as well.
If you are able to monitor your child and keep them well hydrated, then you are allowing your child to become stronger. Make sure you follow your gut and really be attentive to how your child is doing. If you feel like things are moving beyond what you feel comfortable with, call your doctor immediately. As with many decisions you make as mom, trust your instincts!★
NOTE: This is not medical advice and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any disease. Please see a doctor if you feel you or your child has a medical condition.
Staraya McKinstry-Robinson (MPH, AHP, ERYT-200, RYT-500) grew up in the small town of Homer, Alaska with loving and hippie-like parents. For her, holistic health was the norm. Upon leaving her hometown, she was shocked at the deficit in preventative healthcare knowledge among most Americans. Her passion to spread wellness led her to earn a Masters in Public Health. She also went on to become a yoga instructor and Ayurvedic practitioner, as well as a wife and new mother. She loves geeking out on natural and alternative ways to prevent or treat common health issues.