No one likes getting sick — that’s a fact. But becoming a parent has made illness so much more of a burden that I ever would’ve imagined. So now, I am a total vigilante about preventing illnesses from entering our home. Sleepless nights on top of runny noses and a grumpy child put me in a bad mood for the entire 7-10 day duration of an infection. So, homemade, natural remedies to the rescue!

Some of the best methods of prevention and treatment are getting enough sleep, constantly washing your hands, and eating a healthy, varied diet, but I also like to deploy a few other immune boosters for our family. It’s never too early to gather your ingredients and assemble these natural remedies so you won’t be blindsided the first time a toddler in your playgroup starts wiping his runny nose on the toys or you find yourself with a tickle in your throat.

1. Elderberry syrup

I love, love, love elderberry syrup. It tastes delicious, so my toddler doesn’t mind swallowing the recommended 1/2 teaspoon daily dose. Preparing a batch infuses your house with an amazing fall scent, and it’s a great immune booster.

Elderberries can be purchased online or from local stores like Cambridge Naturals. I use this recipe from Mommypotamus, and one batch lasts our family all winter. Elderberry syrup’s super power is its ability to support the immune system, reduce cold and flu symptoms, and provide some nasal/sinus congestion relief.

Don’t have time to make your own? No problem — it’s easy to purchase ready-to-go elderberry drops

2. Anti-germ essential oil blend

I really love diffusing essential oils to help purify our air and keep our immune defenses at the ready. Diffusing is the safest use of essential oils around children (note that you should not use EOs on any child under 6 months). Many brands have created blends to safeguard little ones against illness, or you can mix a quick blend yourself using all kid-safe oils. We diffuse at home before bedtime and in the car. Essential oils and diffusers can be purchased online and at many local stores, including Whole Foods and Cambridge Naturals.

3. Honey, ginger, and lemon tea

If we do get sick, I try to ease our symptoms as naturally as possible and hope for a speedy resolution to the illness. At the end of each summer I mix of a batch of honey, ginger, and lemon concentrate to keep in the fridge.

You’ll need one large lemon, one or two inches of fresh ginger, and one pint of fresh honey. Slice the lemon and ginger thinly and layer in a pint size mason jar. Pour the honey over the layers and make sure it fills in all the nooks and crannies. Store in the fridge and let it gel together. As needed, spoon out a teaspoon of the mix and top with hot water and stir to dissolve into a fragrant, comforting tea.

My toddler loves this tea, and so do I. The ginger and honey both have antibacterial properties while the lemon gives a nice boost of vitamin C.


Now, this last remedy is not for the faint of heart. GOOT stands for “garlic oil ointment treatment.” You will reek of garlic, and I recommend you only use it on kids old enough to know to keep their socks on — otherwise your house will be covered in a nearly permanent smear of garlicky oil. However, it is a very old and respected natural remedy to slather your feet in garlic oil when sick. Garlic has known antibiotic properties, and you can use this on the ears to prevent ear infections, on the chest to clear up coughs, and on the feet for general immune boosts.

Making your own GOOT is simple! Bonus: Anyone who is not sick will not be near you long enough to catch anything as long as you smell like a vampire hunter.

5. Fire cider

Popularity on social media has brought a “fiery” craze to this concoction. To make your own fire cider, you can find the ingredients at your local grocery store — and once the tonic is made this immune booster and natural remedy is good for a few months in your refrigerator!


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