By Linda Melone | Edited by Brian Levine and Christie Bacchioni
When cold and flu season hits, it’s time to stock up on remedies. Before you trek to the drugstore for over-the-counter cough syrups and stomach medicines, try putting together your own simple, all-natural remedies. They are tasty and effective and can go a long way in keeping your children healthy. Here we list some easy approaches and provide tips on how to give your children the vital fruits and veggies they need to stay strong.
Easy, natural remedies you can make at-home
Marcus and Ashley Kusi, marriage and parenting authors and bloggers, make it a point to use natural approaches before resorting to conventional medicines whenever they can. One thing they swear by: elderberry syrup for natural cold remedies.
Elderberry syrup is packed with vitamin A, has more vitamin C than oranges, and is high in antioxidants and antiviral properties. “It’s pretty amazing how much faster the kids get over colds,” says Marcus. “Often, they don’t even get a full-blown cold if we give them this in time and often enough. And they love the taste.”
Elderberry syrup is easy to make. All it takes is dried elderberries, dried ginger roots, cinnamon, cloves and raw honey. Try this homemade recipe from Real Food RN.
Elderberry syrup is easy to make. All it takes is dried elderberries, dried ginger roots, cinnamon, cloves and raw honey.
(For a quick and easy way for you – the parent – to stay healthy, Nature’s Plus® offers elderberry capsules that provide all the natural benefits of the whole fruit, as well as this adult formula of our Source of Life® immune booster. While all-natural, these products are developed for adults and should not be given to children, unless otherwise specified by your child’s physician.)
The Kusis’ also use a cough tincture or a homemade cough syrup from different herbs like slippery elm, marshmallow root, echinacea and ginger, plus apple cider vinegar and other warming spices. They find that mint tea with ginger works well for upset tummies and coconut water for dehydration. Lavender-and-chamomile tea, served lukewarm, works as a natural anxiety remedy and promotes relaxation.
“Always inform your pediatrician when you use homeopathic remedies, herbs, or other natural therapies,” advises Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, mother of three sons, cofounder of MommyMDGuides.com and co-author of several parenting books.
Tips on how to ensure that your child is getting the nutrition they need
While many natural remedies are easy for kids to accept, they don’t always apply to the nutritious foods they need to keep them healthy year-round. Many of us know, it can be tough for parents to entice their children to eat enough variety to meet all their dietary needs. “It often takes five or six tries before a child grows to enjoy the taste and texture of some vegetables,” says McAllister.
Below are some ideas and recommendations that will help the process:
- Offer your child choices at every meal. These may be a couple of baby carrots, a few broccoli florets or several slices of colorful bell peppers, cucumbers and squash. Asking, “Would you rather have peppers or cucumbers?” is more likely to get the desired response, versus demanding your child to eat their vegetables.
- Serve veggies with a tasty, nutritious dip. Almond butter, yogurt-based dips and pesto are good ones to try.
- When introducing a new vegetable, ask your child to simply taste it with her tongue, and then encourage her to take a small bite. Assure her that you’ll allow her to spit it out into a napkin if she doesn’t like it. Praise her for trying it.
- Experiment with different textures. Your child might not enjoy cooked green beans but she might love them if they are fresh and crisp. If fresh carrots are too crunchy, try offering them steamed.
- Be creative with how you introduce different fruits and veggies. Make a fun fruit pop or let them pick out a recipe; it will help increase the appeal of those foods.
- Most important, allow your children to see you eating and enjoying veggies as snacks and at meals.You’re the most important role models to your kids, and they love to follow your lead.
Amy Goodson, MS, RD, a Dallas dietitian and board certified specialist in sports dietetics, recommends the government site ChooseMyPlate.com gov for healthy snack and meal ideas for families. Also, check out our delicious and easy snack recommendations here.