"How is your sleep?" I asked my patient Amber. She answered, "Better, because my son can sleep now!" On the other hand, some parents complain they have to struggle with feeding their kids. You would agree that, children's health is pivotal to a peaceful family.
As we observe the young patient come to our clinic who have allergy, stomach, and sleep issues, they may have life style causes in earlier life. Some of the problems even the parents are aware but just didn't follow through to prevent. On top of the common pediatrician guidance, we Chinese medicine doctors wish the parents know what causes affect their children's developmental health most, one is digestive system, one is immune system. And the two are also interrelated.
1. What to Wear
Although young children have bounty Yang energy, it is not uncommon their Yang can be damaged by coldness, and Yin damaged by overly sweating.
"Warm back, warm belly, warm feet, cool head, cool chest" (明代王大纶《婴童类萃*调理五法》)
Do's: Layering with light vest or light jacket is easy to adjust warmth
Do's: Wear socks or slippers on cold floors like wood or stone
b. Natural fibers are still best for anybody. Parents can easily pick 100% cotton outfits for babies. But after a certain age, most kids clothes are made of polyester in US. I found China still has more choices due to peoples' habits, for example, plain silk underwear costs $3.
Bland food is good. Avoid salty snacks, overly sweet deserts (厚味膏粱伤脾胃)
Less full, feel hunger before meal is better.
Bowl movement after each meal is healthy.
Do's: Establish 3 meals a day for children can sit at the table, snacks are not necessary for children. Modern food industry make too many seemingly healthy choices but covered with too much sugar and food coloring to attract kids, cereal, yogurt, etc.
Don'ts: Limit fruit intake, especially before 3 years old. Replace the fruit serving with vegetables for nutrients. (生冷瓜果伤脾胃) We can't stress this enough, no kids eat too little fruits, they often eat too much. Colorful and sweat, what a treat.
Don'ts: Limit nuts intake when children feels sick or weak.
Don'ts: Check why babies cry, it could be cold, heat, thirst, boredom, they just may not be hungry. Don't over feed them as feeding is so easy to stop them crying.
a. Regarding kids have to keep lights on at sleep, it may affect their growth hormones and others. Try to solve psychological problems by other loving methods.
b. Teeth grinding, sweating at night are treatable symptoms.
a. Young girls could start periods at 9 or 10 nowadays, unlike the moms at 13 or 14, some thirty years ago.
b. Irregular menstruation should be treated. Either the cycle is outside 5 days difference of the normal 28 days window, the blood color too dark or too light, spotting, or abnormal discharges. We would recommend acupuncture and herbs, very safe and effective treatment. Direct hormonal treatment like contraceptive pills may interfere with the natural pattern of her body.
Don't: Drink icy cold drinks during period is not good. It may cause cramping and heavy clots in blood.
5. Some Safe Home Therapy
a. Common Cold
After exposing to elements like cold wind or rain, at the sign of sneezing, running nose, sore throat, cook fresh ginger 5 pc, green onion stem 4 pc, in 2 cups of water with some brown sugar for taste.
Fresh orange peel 10-15g, North apricot kernel 6-10g, boil and drink as tea.
Add luo han guo (罗汉果: monk fruit) for sore throat and yellow phlegm.
Or use watermelon frost spray (西瓜霜) for sore throat.
One of my patients has been taking magnesium laxative since age 2. The long term effect is not reliable any more, and made other regular herbal treatment hardly effective either. So be careful not to ignore, but not to go so extreme so early.
Eat 1 or 2 plum.
Soak 4-6 Malva nuts in boiled water for 15 mins, drink as tea.
Daikon is good for many digestive issues, and daikon seeds (莱菔子) helps constipation.
d. Stomach Flu
Sip warm water frequently, to prevent vomitting.
Diarrhea helps clear out bad microorganism, either take herbal treatment to speed it up or wait it out in a few days.
When recovered to the state of feeling hungry, eat rice porridge is a good choice. Cook fresh orange peel, Ji nei jing (鸡内金) 2 pc, coix seeds 15g with white rice 30g for a meal.