In the comments to the post below, Kat mentions a comment I made at Christina's blog, asks me to share resources I've found helpful in doctoring my kids, so I though I'd repost my comment from Christina's here, and answer the question in a new post, since y'all can see that I'm woefully lacking in blog topics lately. ;-)
But first, an obligatory disclaimer: I'm not a medical doctor, nor do I play on on the internet - I'm just sharing what has worked in my family - you know the drill, so please use your own brains when taking care of your kids. Thanks ever so much. :-D
You’ve reminded me that I need to make my fall batch of garlic oil, which I use for ear troubles - the warm oil is soothing to an achy ear, and of course the garlic is antibiotic.
Crush four cloves of garlic and let them lie exposed to air for at least 10 minutes (this allows their healing properties to develop). Place into a glass jar and cover with 1/4 cup of olive oil; cover and let sit at room temp for one or two days. Strain out the garlic, then cover and place the oil in a cool, dark cupboard. It will keep for six months. To use, warm a few drops just until body temperature (test it on the inside of your wrist first), and place two drops in each ear, even if [only] one ear is feeling bad. Stuff some cotton ball in to keep the oil in for a few minutes. Repeat twice a day for no longer than four days.
Actually, I don’t think I’ve used this remedy much the last couple of years - not since I learned to use hydrogen peroxide in the ears for any kind of ear or sinus/throat trouble - but I like to have it on hand, just in case.
One of my children was bothered by the garlic oil, so I used witch hazel on her and it seemed to work just as well for her as the garlic oil did for my others.
Our kids have tended to have croup a lot and I’ve learned to keep eucalyptus oil on hand at all times. I sprinkle it on their pillows and pjs when it seems that they’re starting to have any trouble, and it keeps it from getting bad - usually they only have it one night. My now-11-year-old was hospitalized with it for three nights as an infant, so I got serious about finding something I could do at home to help and this has done it.
We’re generally pretty healthy, but have tended to get some kind of stomach bug once every three years or so, and this is our first year with our dairy goats, so it’ll be interesting to see how half a year of drinking raw goat milk affects our resistance to things this fall/winter.
(Further disclaimer: whenever I post a link to something, unless I specifically say so I'm in no way implying that I endorse every single thing you'll find there. I have found these resources to be helpful. Please use your own discretion.)
The recipe for garlic oil came from Encyclopedia of Natural Health and Healing for Children, by Marcea Weber, and is a wonderful resource. Lots of old fashioned home remedies and herbal remedies, plus homeopathic and Chinese medicine (neither of which have I tried before), and indications that it's time to see a health care professional.
The hydrogen peroxide idea came from Dr. Mercola - you'll have to provide your email to be able to read the article. His website is a great one for nutritional information and he has more info on vaccinations.
I don't remember now where I learned to use eucalyptus oil for croup, but I use it for every respiratory ailment we have - seasonal allergies, chest colds, that sort of thing. I have a steam vaporizer for each bedroom and I use them a lot, especially in the winter when the house is so dry, with a few drops of eucalyptus oil if anyone seems like they need it.
Probably the most important thing I do though, regarding my children's health, is to make sure that they eat well (I try to be careful about sweets, though we always have a treat on Sunday, and most everything we eat is homemade), play and work hard, rest well, and dress warmly. I'm rather an old-fashioned mother when it comes to dressing small children in particular. My kids run around barefooted most of the year, but as it starts getting colder I make sure the little ones have on a couple of extra layers of clothes - the little girls wearing leggings or thick tights under their dresses - and keep their ears covered and their feet warm and dry. Also, I try not to let the house get overheated in the winter, keeping it somewhere in the 65 - 68 degree range.
And of course, wash your hands!