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Q: I’m a new parent. Any advice on natural child care?
A: First, to strengthen your baby’s immune system for a healthier childhood and adulthood, breast feed, exclusively if at all possible. Research shows that exclusive breast feeding for the first six months protects a baby against infections for at least 12 months. However, adding some formula negates the protective effect, possibly because many formulas contain corn syrup, unhealthy fats and highly processed milk proteins. For formulas, use recipes in my Child Health Guide or at www.westonaprice.org. And, as long as your baby isn’t sensitive or allergic to dairy products, add a half-teaspoon of powdered colostrum from cows that aren’t fed pesticides or other toxic chemicals.
Second, give babies and children vitamin D, about 35 IUs per pound of body weight, and let them get some sun. Natural sunscreen, with zinc oxide, is appropriate if kids are out in the middle of the day at the pool or at camp all day, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to use sunscreen daily because it prevents absorption of vitamin D.
Natural Treatments for Common Problems
Digestive problems, such as reflux or colic; allergies, such as eczema or asthma; and infections, such as colds or ear infections, are common. A baby’s digestive system is easily stressed. Antibiotics, taken by the mother or baby, destroy healthy intestinal bacteria and disrupt the immune system. And, vaccines contribute to allergies (see my book, The Vaccine Guide). Taking vitamin D when pregnant decreases infections and allergies in babies.
Creating a healthy digestive system will reduce all the common problems. A mother can take probiotics during pregnancy and you can add liquid or powdered probiotics, about 20 to 30 billion colony forming units (CFUs) per day, to formula or breast milk. Look for broad-spectrum probiotics with lactobacillus and bifido bacteria.
Supplement with DHA
Babies need DHA for development of the brain and nervous system. If a baby is exclusively breast fed, the mother can take 600 to 1,000 mg of DHA daily from fish oil or algae, or a total of 200 to 300 mg of krill oil. Otherwise, you can give a baby 200 mg daily of DHA from fish oil or algae, or 1 teaspoon of flax oil daily once they are eating solid food and stop breast feeding.
As solid food is introduced (see www.cure-guide.com), it should be fresh, whole food as it comes from nature, not processed, and organic whenever possible. Avoid corn syrup and artificial colors and flavoring.
Use natural baby soaps, shampoos, and lotions; anything put onto the skin is absorbed into the blood stream. Avoid skin-care products with petrochemicals and synthetic fragrance. And, use only non-toxic household products with plant-based ingredients.
TIP: Research shows that gut flora in infants born by cesarean delivery may be disturbed, potentially leading to problems such as skin rash, eczema, and reduced immunity. Probiotics specially formulated for infants can help populate the gut with healthy intestinal flora.
Meet Our Expert
Randall Neustaedter, OMD, LAc, CCH, is the author of Child Health Guide and The Holistic Baby Guide, and has been specializing in child health care for more than 25 years. He is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Certified in Classical Homeopathy and the father of five children, ranging in ages from 9 to 37.