This past weekend Pete and I finally had a chance to meet my twin grandsons! They’re already three months old but travelling 1100 miles isn’t the easiest thing to do these days. Needless to say, the visit was entirely too short.
When I found out they were expecting twin boys, I knew immediately what I wanted to make for them: teddy bears that were alike yet not, just like most twins. As a witchy herbalist, I naturally wanted to stuff them full of protective & healthy herbs but I stopped myself. First, I know how boys are. Toys get filthy and herbs aren’t exactly washable. More importantly, I didn’t want to stuff them with something they might be allergic to. Allergies and asthma among children are on the rise and I certainly didn’t want to contribute to a potential problem!
I am always cautioning mothers about introducing herbs to children. While most are safe for youngsters, some are not. Breast-feeding mothers also need to be careful about what they take as any herb will make its way from the mother’s body to the child’s through the milk. (My mantra: research, research, research!)
There are some herbal things that, assuming the child has no serious medical problems, can be done. From one of my textbooks:
Colic can be helped by teas of catnip, chamomile, cloves, dill, fennel, ginger, peppermint or spearmint.
Cradle Cap: rub in wheatgerm oil, jojoba oil, apricot kernel oil, castor oil, or thuja ointment.
Diaper Rash: apply aloe vera gel, calendula ointment (my favorite) or apricot kernel oil. Some of the best advice: sit out in the sunshine and take the diaper off for a bit. Be sure to use sunscreen on both baby & Mom!
Sleeplessnesss or Restlessness: Use teas of catnip, chamomile, hops or passionflower.
Teething: Use teas of catnip or chamomile to calm the fussiness and rub chamomile or clove oil (diluted 2-3 drops in 1 teaspoon sweet almond oil) on the gums. Clove oil may be a bit strong tasting so I usually recommend the chamomile. Dip a cotton swab or cotton ball in the mixed oil for application.
To use teas, especially where infants are concerned, if mother is breast-feeding, she should drink the tea and pass the benefits of the herb on through her milk. Or, make a mild infusion (1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried herb to 1 cup just-boiled water); strain, cool and feed through a bottle or sippy cup. If herbs are bitter, you can sweeten the tea with honey but don’t use honey with children under 12 months of age. (There can be botulism spores in raw honey and children are more susceptible to infection than adults.) Here, stevia can help. Just a pinch of stevia will sweeten as well as a full teaspoon of honey.
So, what did I do about the teddy bears? They are made with 100% washable fabric & stuffing to solve the dirt problem. Tucked inside each tummy is a charged sardonyx – a very good protective stone which just happens to be one of my birthstones. As with anything most grandmothers make, they are made with all the love and protection I could infuse into them.