8 Natural Tips to Keep Your Child Healthy
This is going to be a long post, but I promise many valuable tips you might not have known before.
Let’s begin with accepting that kids today aren’t healthy. Poor eyesight, lisping, bedwetting, indigestion, fragile body and weak immunity are commonplace. Till as late as the 90s, air, water, food and environment were much cleaner in our cities. Not to miss, the means and conveniences weren’t that many. Physically exerting outdoor games and sports existed instead of mobile games and digital entertainment. Homemade food and occasional dining-out was the norm, and not countless fast food joints happy to serve.
While we clearly enjoy the fruits of modernisation and development these collateral damages can’t be ignored. In these 8 natural tips to keep your child healthy, I’ve tried to cover most of the curative and preventive advices for your young one. All the solutions below are devised using Ayurveda, natural products and of course, empathy and common sense.
8) Deficiency of Vitamin D
This problem begins way before the birth, so should be mentioned first. While working or urban mothers are pregnant, sitting in sunlight is a luxury they can seldom afford or worse, desire. The sunlight till 10 a.m. is the only natural source of Vitamin D for the unborn child which catalyses child’s growth and immunity inside the womb. The lack of this sunlight is the reason why many kids are born with deficiency of vitamin D. Sadly, kids as young as six months are given supplements to compensate for the lost exposure to sunlight.
The solution is surprisingly simple. Sit in the early morning sun (till 10 am) for at least one hour a day in winter which almost always comes in each pregnancy. The early morning summer sun (till 7) is pleasant too.
7) Whooping Cough or Pertussis (Kaali Khaasi)
Whooping Cough is a bacterial disease. Worse, it’s communicable. Worst, it still affects about 50 million people worldwide. While vaccination is the most obvious answer, the weaker sections often ignore or can’t afford it.
Coughing fits, vomiting, sometimes fainting and a whoop sound while inhaling between two coughs are some symptoms of whooping cough. The remedy for Whooping Cough is surprisingly simple.
Procure some Potash Alum (fitkari) from your grocer or Barber. Take two grains (about 0.25 gram) and roast them. Mix with equal proportion of sugar and give twice a day to your kid, double the quantity for adults. If kids can’t swallow this mixture dry, help them with one or two mouthfuls of lukewarm water.
6) Lisping (Tutlana)
Let’s give lisping one for being a rather enduring problem. Most parents wait for their kids to get over it as they grow up. But if not attended to, it can go awry with age and harm the self-confidence and social skills of the child. Here are some solutions that work like magic.
For Level 1 Lisping – Make the child chew a fresh green amla (Indian gooseberry) for two weeks, and lisping will stop. It makes the voice thinner (in a desirable way) and clearer. It also reduces the heat of the mouth, which is a major reason for lisping. Also, prevent your child from taking spicy food (hey, that’s always a NO!).
For Level 2 Lisping - If the above didn’t help, it’s time to make a paste (chutney). Mix 7 almonds and 7 black pepper with few drops of boiled water to make a paste. Sweeten it by adding fine powdered misri (crystallised sugar lumps) to it. The child should lick this paste empty stomach every morning. A noticeable difference in child’s diction will be visible in a week.
Lisping Beyond Level 2 – In extreme cases of lisping, where the child is unable to respond as expected to the above two treatments, make him/her keep two black peppers in mouth and suck their juice twice a day, for 20-30 minutes each time.
5) Stuttering (Haklana)
While not as common as lisping, stuttering is often more difficult to get rid of. Here’s a potent solution.
Crush 5 grams of Saunf (Asafoetida) into powder, add this into 300 grams of water and boil on a burner. After the water level reduces to one-third (or about 100 grams), add 50 grams of misri and 250 grams of cow milk. Make this mixture every night and let your young one drink this every night before going to bed. This shows results in a week.
If cow milk is putting you off, make your little one suck clove once a day, eat Chyavanprash every night and train him/her to speak slowly.
Even if you don’t have kids, you have been one. Bedwetting therefore needs no introduction. It starts right from birth but must be ended at the earliest. Besides teaching self-control to your child (for example, pinching on own hand before passing the urine, to make sure that it isn’t a dream), try these simple methods for guaranteed results with no side effects.
For kids up to than 3 years - Mix the kernel (giri) of one walnut with 5 grams of raisins. The child should chew this quantity every morning. You will start seeing dry drier diapers after 10 days.
For kids between 3 – 6 years – Mix one teaspoon of honey with half cup (150 ml) of normal water and feed it to your baby before going to bed. Do this for three to fifteen days, observing the result.
For kids above six years – Mix two teaspoons honey with half cup (150 ml) of normal water and feed it to your child before going to bed. Do this for three to fifteen days, observing the result.
The mixture of honey and water increases the resistance of bladder against peeing. When consumed at night, it attacks the bedwetting disorder in young ones. The pinch-yourself rule will still be good to teach, given that most kids pee thinking they’re wide awake in their toilet, when actually it is just a convenient dream.
3) Indigestion of Milk
After moving from mother’s milk to other types of milk, the digestive system of the child takes time to adjust to the change. To prevent this, add one gram or one or two seeds of long piper (Pippali) to every 200 grams of milk. After boiling the milk, filter out these seeds. Long piper has the property to destroy all (and only) the shortcomings of milk, rendering it digestible.
2) Diet of the Child
This is going to be tough, a tad rude, so brace yourself. Before talking about the child, let’s talk about the guardians. Parents sometimes often don’t give healthy or nutritious food to their child for various reasons. The most common reason is the complaint “he doesn’t like to eat roti/fruits/milk but readily accepts maggi/chips/pizza/ice-cream”.
Neeti, owner of a Gurgaon based baby-care Mera Bachpan and mother of a 3-year old girl explain it this way:
“You don’t ever crave for an exotic vegetable grown in Amazon or for shark meat. Why? Because you’ve never tasted it. The same goes with child. (S)He wasn’t born knowing about magi/chips or other unhealthy food out there. You introduced these to the kid. So you know whose fault it is.”
Solution: Introduce your kids to healthy food. Porridge (homemade), Khichdi, sweet cheela (made of wheat), a homemade parantha, fruit custard, vegetable upma (with beans), cucumber (for gum massage), pulses, wheat… the list of healthy and delicious items is really long. Do not miss on giving them one tablespoon of a trusted Chyawanprash twice a day. Kids quickly develop a taste for it. And avoid eating junk food in front of kids. They pick up really fast.
Please analyse your mind-set first. You’re guilty for not being able to spend time with your child, and you don’t want to make them cry. But you are making them cry in the longer term by giving in to their demands of unhealthy, junk food. Crying doesn’t make a child unhealthy, but eating an ice-cream or spicy food does.
If your child is not eating, involve him/her in games or studies and not in TV. I know of a relative’s kid who once swallowed a AAA cell while watching TV and eating food simultaneously. Not to miss, serve the kid in a separate plate, and not with mom/dad/grandpa/grandma.
1) Mental and Social growth
At #1, this problem is the probably most severe of all because it comes in stealth mode and is diagnosed after a bad report card at school. Urban nuclear families often leave kids with maids, or sometimes with grandparents. Just like an adult, a child also needs a social circle to interact and engage with. It is your responsibility to ensure he (I will now use he for the ease of writing, not using she because I personally think females are always smarter than their male counterparts!) has enough avenues to talk, play and interact. Whatever hours you spend with your child, make it quality time. Replace TV time with games, reading and talking. Give chores, dough of homemade clay, suited puzzles, treasure hunts and exciting missions to the child and see how quickly TV is forgotten. Make him speak a new word each day even if it takes 30 repeats. Make him repeat the learning tomorrow and day after. Tell him how stuff works. Instead of bouncing off or mocking his questions, it’s better to say you will find out. Never ever curb the curiosity of a child. For one, that’s the material all progenies are made of.
Play outdoor games, or go on walks with your child; unhurried interactions outside of the home really help you and the child learn a lot about each other at an emotional and metaphysical level. Massage is equally important for physical and mental growth of your child. Remember the rule: When its summer, massage then bathe; when winter, bathe then massage. You can use mustard oil, olive oil or any balanced oil available in the market with goodness of all kinds of oils.
Once your child learns to speak, ask about his routine every-day. This way he will feel secure and cared for and confide in you. Instead of movies or restaurants, take him to planetariums, gardens, amusement parks and open spaces. Whenever possible, make your child interact with other kids. Being with same-aged children reduces the egocentricity of the child and makes him realise he isn’t special. This is the reason a child in a good day-care facility is often more behaved, disciplined and articulate than the one at a nuclear home.
Lastly, read out to your kid as soon as you can. Early reading shapes personality, even character. Panchtantra, Aesop’s Fables and Roald Dahl’s collection (my personal favourite) are good to get started. Some non-prejudiced knowledge of your religion/faith can be good too.
Mental measures, unlike physical ones, take longer to reflect. But once they shape up the child, there’s no going back.
You are welcome to run these natural treatments through your doctor or paediatrician before trying them. These however do not have any negative or side effects.