My nonagenarian grandmother almost always has a home remedy for any ailment. I remember when my son was barely a year old and had caught a bad cold; she had her herbs ready to make him a concoction.
While all this is well-meaning, it might not be something you should try, especially with children. Being a parent is hard, not to mention the constant stream of information and advice that flows from all sides. We, as parents, are often left wondering what we should and shouldn’t do when it comes to our little ones.
In this article, Dr Raghuram Mallaiah, Head, Neonatology, Fortis Le Femme, Gurugram, helps us understand what myths are and what are not.
1. Medication is the best course of action
In a state of panic, parents often turn to medicines, and even antibiotics, assuming that it is the best course of action for an ailment.
Dr Mallaiah says, “To begin with, it is important that parents do not self-medicate their children and especially not with antibiotics. If the child is suffering from fever, fatigue, or a sickness of any sort, then the best thing would be to take them to a doctor.”
He explains that antibiotics must not be given without prescription because it could lead to antimicrobial resistance. “Also, how a child will react to a set of antibiotics depends entirely on their biological makeup. Whatever the problem, go to the doctor and get it checked,” adds Dr Mallaiah.
Home remedies can be explored, however, if there is a need for any allopathic input, it should be done in consultation with a doctor, and after a proper diagnosis, he says.
2. Children do not have mental health issues
Yet another thing that many parents believe is that children are immune from mental health issues. Busting this myth, Dr Mallaiah says, “The foundation for your child’s mental health is formed during their initial years. It is imperative that you put in place coping mechanisms to help your child deal with issues that might crop up while they grow up.”
He goes on to say that mental health illnesses can take root during childhood. “While genetics play a role, the environment in which the child is brought up can also act as a trigger for any underlying condition,” he says.
3. If immunity is strong, children will not fall sick
While building a good and strong immunity is important, falling ill is not necessarily a bad thing or indicative of your child’s immunity resistance.
“Usually, when children start school, they are exposed to several germs and infections. This is not necessarily a bad thing since the body remembers how to fight bacteria once it is exposed to them, and this strengthens their immunity,” says Dr Mallaiah.
4. Every child must have at least one glass of milk
It is almost ingrained in us that children must be given at least one glass of milk each day. Are you among the many who believe in this? If yes, read on to see what Dr Malaiah says!
“Many of us think that milk is the go-to solution for any nutritional deficiency. However, that is not the case. Most milk brands available nowadays are filled with sugar and artificial flavouring. Therefore, you might want to rethink whether giving your child that glass of milk is really beneficial.”
Many things can be substituted for milk, such as cheese and eggs. He goes on to say, “Ghee is an important ingredient, and you must add it to meals, however, in moderation.”
5. All children need to be given nutrition supplements
When asked about this, Dr Mallaiah categorically says, “Do not pump your child with nutrition supplements. Just make sure they are eating a balanced diet and that they are getting enough time outdoors in the sun and natural air.”
Speaking about newborns, he says that the best nutrition that a mother can give them is breast milk, which has colostrum. This is the only source of energy for newborns up to six months.
If you do feel the need to supplement your child’s regular diet, do consult your doctor before making any additions. Do not blindly buy any products from the stores.
6. Chicken-pox does not need to be treated
Many parents believe that chickenpox does not require medical intervention and can be treated with home remedies. Dr Mallaiah says, “If you suspect that your child has chickenpox, seek immediate assistance from a doctor. It is an extremely contagious condition, and can leave the child feeling extremely uncomfortable.”
While it does build the child’s immunity and their body is able to recognise the bacteria should they enter their body again, get your child medically treated if they are suffering from chickenpox.
Dr Mallaiah also, in conclusion, says that one should not resort to home remedies to treat conditions like these.
While we have taken utmost care in putting this article together, for all medical concerns, it is best to consult with your doctor.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)