How to Help a Child Get Well

How to help kids heal faster and so they end up stronger afterward.

To help a child get well, understand that kids and their bodies are vulnerable, soft, quirky. We treat them gently. Keep in mind these beginning guidelines, and see specific suggestions below concerning fever, sore throat, earache, nasal congestion, pain, and more.

Gently mitigate symptoms. You don’t need to eliminate them. The symptoms are a part of a good thing – the body’s process of getting well. Some symptoms, like fever, are necessary steps in strengthening and maturing the child’s immune system.

Allow these bodily processes to complete their work. Help and support these processes, for they are the way that the body cleans out the disease.

Remember: Our aim in treating a disease should always be to respect and enhance the body’s own process of healing. The body is wiser than any drug. As a parent, your gift is to help guide the body back to its natural balance so it can heal itself. Everything should orbit around this.

Even conventional medicine is beginning to accept this. The tools and healing ideas on this page help you do both and to help the child emerge into health with a stronger immune system and a sense of balance about themselves.

Use these ideas for any illness, from colds and stomach flu to sore throats, ear aches, fevers, and even when you are not sure what your child has.

Kids are inherently a little wild, a little quirky. To help kids heal we need to provide them a stable and safe place and connection to our love. We also mention several off-the-shelf formulas that are helpful. You can find in them health food and Whole Foods stores.

Care guidelines for the sick child

Dress child warmly so cheeks are red, hands and feet are warm but not perspiring. The child’s core particularly needs to be warm. Avoid undressing from neck to knees.

The wise Dr. Diet:

  • Never pressure a child to eat if not hungry.
  • If hungry, give vegetable broth or soup, herbal teas, diluted juices, cooked fruits
  • Give sips of liquid to maintain hydration. Per day, one ounce per two pounds is the normal minimum. When the child is sick, get them as close to this as possible, or even more.
  • Keep meals light for a day or two even once appetite returns as illness may not yet be over.

The restorative rhythm of Dr. Quiet:

  • TV/electronic games are over stimulating for a sick child, especially younger ones. A big no no. If it is a big transition away from electronics, try to get creative. Let them understand that the illuminated screens slow down the healing. They can even make the sick child feel worse.
  • Be with your child in an unhurried, reassuring way.
  • Keep child under covers in bed or couch, away from hustle and bustle, sleeping as much as possible.
  • Read or talk quietly to the child.
  • Illness can be a wonderful opportunity for renewed communication and bonding with parent(s).

The buoyant Dr. Merryman:

  • Fear is a natural response to powerful forces we don’t understand, but fever phobia abounds among parents, and can interfere with wise decisions. The presence of your fear can prevent your child from going through a needed healing crisis. Remember that in illness, the body is doing what it needs to do.
  • Mastering fear, sitting calmly and quietly with ill children, carefully observing them, can lead to a healthy respect for the changes that emerge through the ebb and flow of healing cases.

How to dose herbs for children

  • Strength of dose:
    Age in years divided by 20 is the portion of the adult dose that is given to children.
  • Frequency of dose:
    Give every 2 hours during the acute phase of illness, then three times daily for another 5-7 days once feeling better.

General, acute immune support

Recommended warm fluids & herbal teas for kids

  • Yogi Tea brand “Cold Season”
  • Traditional Medicinal brand “Organic Cold Care P.M.”

Immune strengthening vitamins and minerals

  • Vitamin C 200 – 500 mg three times daily
  • Zinc 10 – 15 mg daily
  • Bioflavinoids 100 – 500 mg daily
  • Beta carotene 10,000 – 25,000 IU daily

Immune enhancing and antimicrobial herbs

  • Herbs for Kids brand: “Echinacea/Astragalus”
  • OR Gaia brand “Echinacea for Children”
  • OR Gaia “Echinacea Supreme” and Gaia “Astragalus Roof” AND Gaia “Lemon Balm” AND Gaia “Licorice Root”
  • OR Natura Health Products “Flew Away”
    1 pill 5 times daily for children ages 4 – 12,
    2 pills 5 times daily for older children and adults.


Support for specific illnesses and helpful healing herbs

For Fever

  • Essential oils of bergamot, peppermint, or eucalyptus. Put 4-6 drops in a tepid foot or sponge bath or massage oil and rubbed on back of neck, shoulders and feet.
  • “Herbs for Kids” brand Temp Assure. Use as directed on bottle.
  • Homeopathic remedies:
    • Belladonna 30 C.
      Dissolve 2 pellets of 30C in spring water.
      Take 1 tsp and repeat in 2 hours if needed.
    • Aconite if no response to Belladonna in 12-24 hours.
  • A washcloth soaked in tepid water or lemon juice and rubbed vigorously over arms, legs and head until skin turns red will help dissipate heat.

For Cough and Nasal Congestion

  • Chest Rubs: Mix 20 drops of essential oil of eucalyptus or peppermint or thyme in two ounces of olive oil. Store in brown jar to protect from light. Rub on chest before sleep and cover with cotton t-shirt.
  • Herbal steams: 1 teaspoon each of dried chamomile, yarrow and lavender flower
  • Gaia brand herbal mixes:
    • “Cough Syrup for Wet Cough” and “Cough Syrup for Dry Cough”
      For children greater than one year of age.
      Use as directed on bottle.
    • “Black Elderberry” syrup as directed on bottle.
    • Herbalist and Alchemist brand “Lung Re-leaf Antispasmodic Compound”

For Sore Throat

  • Gaia or Herbalist and Alchemist “Willow Bark” extract for pain relief.
  • Herbalist and Alchemist “Burdock Red Root Compound” for lymph drainage.
  • Slippery Elm Lozenges.
  • Natura Health Products “Throat and Gland Spray” or Herbalist and Alchemist ‘Herbal Re-leaf Throat Spray” or Herbs for Kids “Super Kids Throat Spray”.
  • Traditional Medicinals “Organic Throat Coat” or Yogi Tea “Throat Comfort” tea.
  • Popsicles made from tea.

For Ear Infection/Pain

  • Heat on ear and neck 10-15 minutes several times daily.
  • Warm olive oil with a few drops each of lavender and rosemary oil around ear, nose and throat.
  • Herbs for Kids “Willow/Garlic Ear Oil” as directed on bottle.
  • Cranial Osteopathy sessions with a traditional osteopath. Most Doctors of Osteopathy (DOs) are not trained in the traditional, holistic way. In the Princeton area, the only one I know if is Dr. Shawn Tepper, who is an excellent doctor and great with kids.