Keep these at-home remedies and other items in your pantry for when you or your family get sick!
The moment your child enters school or enrols in any type of activity, it appears they soak up more germs than a sponge. You may well have your home first-aid kit well stocked for cuts and bruises, but there are times when you just have to wait out the sniffles or soothe indigestion and constipation with over-the-counter (OTC) meds or natural home remedies. So what should you stock up on in your home medicine cabinet? Here’s our go-to guide on what home remedies and OTCs to use, and when.
Editor’s Note: We recommend you always check with your doctor before taking (or giving) any medications, even if they are over-the-counter medicines. If you have any concerns, always speak to a medical professional.
Helps Sniffles & Coughs: Bently Organic Baby Vapour Balm
Bently Organic Baby Vapour Balm is what we reach for when bubs have the sniffles or a chest cold. This organic alternative to your standard chest rub smells amazing and is a natural way to ease baby through coughs and colds. Our kids love this soothing balm rubbed on their chest, back, and neck – it’s become a relaxing pre-bedtime ritual when they are sick.
Helps Blocked Noses: Colief Breathe Easy Patch
If your kid has a cough or cold and is having trouble breathing, stocking up on the Colief Breathe Easy Patch – which is especially useful when travelling – will give blocked noses some relief. The patch can easily be applied to your child’s bedding or clothing; there’s no direct contact with the child’s skin, which means there’s no irritation. The Colief Breathe Easy Patch, which lasts eight hours, contains Eucalyptus (known for its decongestant properties) and Peppermint and Lemon oils that are proven to have a soothing effect on the airways.
Helps Eczema: Nila Kids Eczema Relief Oil
If you’re heading to Singapore, remember to stock up on Nila Kids Eczema Relief Oil (also ships to HK). It is a 100% natural oil (a blend of Lavender Fine with Frankincense Olibanum, Patchouli and natural tocopherol in a base of organic virgin olive oil) that’s gentle yet fast-acting when it comes to soothing dryness and itchiness caused by eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions. We love this formula as it is non-steroidal, has no side effects, reduces scars and restores moisture naturally, while strengthening the skin barrier leaving skin smooth and calm. Nila Kids Eczema Relief Oil is suitable for all kids including babies below 6 months (just dilute the oil with an equal amount of olive oil) and comes as an oil or roll on. Having this on hand for kids prone to eczema will save on tears!
Helps Bloating: Peppermint Tea
Peppermint tea is one of those staples that we always have in our pantry. Kids seem to love the novelty of having some warm fragrant minty tea to sip on, plus it’s caffeine-free for a pre-bed cuppa while mama is reading her book and it is said to be beneficial for the digestive system. Perfect to help alleviate bloating, stomach gas and flatulence to boot!
Helps Bumps: Cold Pack
If your little one has a fall (but does not vomit immediately after and is not drowsy – which are both signs to seek immediate medical attention), then its best to apply ice or cold packs to reduce the swelling. A “goose egg” lump may appear anyway, but applying ice will help ease the pain and hopefully minimise bruising and the size of the lump. Wrap the ice pack in a cloth to avoid applying cold directly to your child’s skin (or dab on and off for 10 minutes). Avoid applying ice for longer than 15 minutes at a time (not that anyone’s kid will sit still for that long!). If you don’t have a fancy ice pack, you can always just use a bag of frozen peas!
Helps Sore Throats: Lemon, Ginger, Garlic, Turmeric and Honey
When the whines get louder than normal and little ones are fractious, it could be because a sore throat is bothering them. Older kids will be able to tell you when it is a sore throat versus just a toddler saying, “It hurts”. Whipping up a soothing warm concoction of lemon juice (high in Vitamin C) and antibacterial honey (Manuka honey gets extra points) helps. And if your kids are older and more adventurous add in minced garlic (antimicrobial and antibacterial), minced ginger (analgesic, antibacterial and antifungal) and fresh or dried turmeric (numerous health benefits including being antioxidant).
Helps Break Down Phlegm: Fluimucil
Fluimucil Sachets can be bought at pharmacies over the counter and are handy for when your child has a chesty cough with mucus rattling around that needs to be broken down so it is easier to expel. Check with your doctor on the correct dosage first. Fluimucil sachets consist of powder that can be dissolved in water, making it easy for kids to drink.
Helps With Cramps: Hot Water Bottle
Hands up – who grew up using a hot water bottle for tummy pains and cramps? It is thought that putting a warm water bottle on the stomach can help tummy pains (and menstrual cramps for older teens) by blocking pain messages to the brain. Just make sure you screw that cap on nice and tight to avoid water burns.
Helps Blocked Noses, Headaches And More: Axe Oil
Axe oil is a mainstay in many Hong Kong homes and is said to relieve headaches, a blocked nose, stomach aches, insect bites, rheumatic pains and muscular pains. It can be a little strong so best to use it sparingly and not anywhere near the face for kids.
Helps Burns, Rashes & Cuts: Calendula Cream Or Sudocrem
Sudocrem is an antiseptic healing cream that is used as a protective barrier against nappy rash, to soothe existing nappy rash (and prevent it occurring), soothe cuts and grazes and heal eczema and other skin conditions. Calendula cream contains an active level of Calendula officinalis (pot marigold), which is known for its skin healing properties, and is used to hydrate and soothe skin. Both creams are multipurpose and can be used by the entire family.
Helps Bruising: Arnica Cream And Tablets
Homoeopathic arnica is said to help the body heal while relieving bruising, swelling, soreness, stiffness, and other pain-related symptoms. It is safe for kids and does not contain aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Oral arnica tablets dissolve quickly under the tongue (and can taste sweet) while topical arnica can be applied directly to a bump or bruise.
Helps Cold and Flu Onset: Detox Epsom Salt Bath
Taking a warm soothing bath filled with Epsom Salts, some Baking Soda and a few drops of immune-boosting essential oils – lavender smells great! This helps when kids are feeling like they may be coming down with a cough and cold.
Helps Clear Babies’ Blocked Noses: 100% Seawater Nasal Spray
There are some very effective medicative nasal sprays/drops available over the counter that help clear kids noses when they are blocked from a cold, but for very young kids and babies it is best to use a 100% seawater nasal spray. Find them at your local pharmacy or try iHerb.
Helps Coughs And More: Eucalyptus Essential Oil + Diffuser
We have a fair few essential oils up our sleeves at home, from lavender which is an anti-inflammatory to treat rashes, insect bites and burns, as well as for calming, to tea tree oil (antibacterial) to treat cuts, grazes (and get rid of mould on furnishings and walls). Eucalyptus oil is a great one for coughs and to clear lungs – especially if you put a few drops in a diffuser and have it running in your child’s bedroom at night.
Helps Minor Allergic Reactions: Antihistamines
Antihistamines such as Zyrtec (non-drowsy) can be used to treat your child’s runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing due to allergies. Over the counter antihistamines available at any pharmacy can also help reduce itching from chickenpox, insect bites, and other rashes.
Helps Tummy Pains, Sleep, Colic And Teething: Chamomile Tea
A hot cup of chamomile tea helped calm Peter Rabbit’s nerves, so while we would only give our kids a tepid cuppa, sipping on chamomile may just help relax kids given it is a mild sedative. Chamomile is said to be helpful in improving sleep quality, treating a colicky baby, for teething (if you can get your hands on Nelsons Teetha Teething Granules these powders are gold) and to ease stomach pain.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2018 and updated in March 2020.