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Children's Health and Safety: Inexpensive Homemade Remedies

Frugal Parenting (featured column)
by Rachel Keller

When sickness visits your family, do you find yourself spending too much time and money at the doctor's office and pharmacies? Before hurrying to the doctor for little Johnny or Susie's sniffles, read this article for some helpful money saving advice.

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This is the time of year when sickness seems to hit hardest, especially for children. No one likes to see a child suffer, but often in the attempt to help a child feel better, parents rely too heavily on drugs to cure whatever ailment the child has. While medication has alleviated symptoms for some, many children ingest unnecessary and often harmful over-the-counter drugs and antibiotics.

According to Taking Care of Your Child (1993), "the vast majority of all medical problems resolve themselves without the use of any medication" (p. 223). The book further claims that many of the over-the-counter medications available to consumers are neither safe nor effective. Pantell, Fries, and Vickery recommend two types of medication necessary for all homes: the pain reliever acetaminophen and syrup of ipecac (to induce vomiting in cases of poisoning). Hopefully, you will never have to use syrup of ipecac, but always have some on hand (out of the reach of little hands) for  emergencies.

Follow these important reminders:

Check the dates on both your medication and syrup of ipecac since medications do expire. Throw out any old medication.

Never give syrup of ipecac without first talking to a poison control center.

Have the number of a local poison control center on your telephone or call 911 and ask for the poison control center.

Have syrup of ipecac with you when you travel. (The one time I needed syrup of ipecac, I was out-of-town. I knew I had two bottles at home--300 miles away--but I had to rush to the store and buy a new one. This cost precious
minutes of time.)

Also, have on hand the following items:



Vaporizer or humidifier

Elastic bandages

Sun block

Hydrogen peroxide

When a child has a cold, neither parents nor doctors can do much for the child, except to keep him comfortable. Colds run a course with or without medication, and parents can save money by not taking their child to the doctor for every sniffle or cough.

If a child has a fever or diarrhea, observe closely. Give plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. If fever or diarrhea persists for more than 24 hours, or the fever is very high, call a doctor immediately.

Talk to your doctor before your child gets sick. Know what to do if you have an emergency after hours. Before trying any treatment that you are uncertain about, ask your doctor.

Next time, before spending extra time and money at a doctor's office, try one of these simple inexpensive home remedy treatments:

For relieving constipation, try prune juice or eating prunes if you cannot stomach the juice. It really works.

I received this suggestion from a friend who got it from her pediatrician. If you like using Pedialyte, but don't like the expense, try this recipe:

Mix 1 quart of water, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Add a bit of UNSWEETENED kool-aid, and you have homemade Pedialyte--but without the expense.

Another friend received this recipe from her girls' pediatrician for homemade ear drops. She says it does wonders at dissolving excess wax.

Dissolve 1/2 teaspoonful of baking soda in two ounces of warm water. Put in a dropper bottle. Use a few drops in the ear two times a day for a week. Discard solution after a week.

Finally, I recommend that you purchase at least one medical care handbook, and refer to it often. I can't tell you how many times I've received helpful advice from one of my medical care handbooks. Childhood health and safety should be one of our greatest concerns.

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Copyright © 2005 by Rachel Keller.  All rights reserved.
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