Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Natural cold and flu kit for kids

Each year, almost as soon as school starts, my family begins a seemingly endless dance with colds and the flu.

As a mom, there is nothing worse than seeing my children sick and miserable. I just want to do anything I can to make them feel better. But, I have to be honest, traditional medicines scare me when it comes to my kids. They contain harsh and questionable chemicals and it seems that every week, some type of medication is recalled off the shelves because it poses some sort of danger.

So what's a mom to do when illness strikes?

Well, I was recently given an opportunity to try out a few natural, safer cold and flu products for children.

The first item in the kit was a children's nasal spray from the Xlear (pronounced "clear") company. This isn't simply a typical nasal spray. It contains xylitol, which is a natural substance derived from plant fibers.

Xylitol, studies show, has unique properties that keep bacteria from sticking, so when this nasal spray is used, it can actually keep your children from getting sick. The spray also washes away pollutants, irritants and other contaminants, and keeps the nasal passages and sinuses moist.

What's really cool about the Xlear spray is that it can be used on the tiniest of children--even newborns. That's important for any mom who's had a sick baby, because there isn't much you can do for them when they're that little besides coming at them with the bulb syringe. Xlear is safe for the little ones, though, and there is no danger of overuse or dependency.

The Xlear company also makes a number of other products, including gum, mints and sweetener. Using products that contain xylitol can actually be good for your teeth because, as in the nasal spray, it helps keep bacteria from sticking. Personally, I put a container of the Spry gum in everyone's stocking at Christmas in hopes of counteracting some of the candy.

Xlear products can be found at Vitamin Shoppe, Whole Foods and other stores. Locally, I purchase mine at Rebekah's Pure Living in Lapeer. You can find out more at

The second item in the kit comes from the Hyland's Homeopathic company. I was given the Nighttime Cold n' Cough 4 kids.

I was familiar with the Hyland's name because I, like many moms, swore by their teething tablets when my children were infants.

The Nighttime Cold n' Cough (there is a daytime formula as well) is safe for kids age 2 and up. It relieves the symptoms of the common cold, including cough, runny nose, sneezing, nasal and chest congestion and sore throat, and it does it naturally, without side effects. It doesn't contain anything scary, either, like aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, pseudoephedrine or dextromethorphan.

It retails for around $7.99 and can be found at CVS, Whole Foods and Rite Aid. Learn more at

The third item in my kit was a Mobi Dual Scan ear and forehead thermometer.

It can be really difficult to get a child to sit still for a temperature check, and if they're asleep, you don't want to have to wake them up to take their temperature. That's where the Mobi comes in handy. It takes a reading in just two seconds, with a mere touch to the temple. The display lights up so if you're taking a reading in the dark (with the assistance of the built-in flashilight if you so desire) you can see the results. It also stores the last 20 readings, including date and time, for comparison, and there is a talk option that reads the temperature aloud. (That is a big hit with my three year old. He's been talking to his friend Mobi for days.)

Although there are a lot of features on the thermometer, it is very user-friendly. My three-year-old can literally take his own temperature and get an accurate reading.

The Mobi Dual Scan retails for $34.95 and can be found at Target, or online at

The last product I found in my cold and flu kit was The Germinator, foaming hand sanitizer by the BabyGanics company.

As a rule, I've never been fond of hand sanitizers because they are harsh. They're alcohol-based and my hands get dry and cracked each winter just due to regular washing and dry air.

Some situations just call for some sanitizer, though, and I'm happy to know that there are alcohol-free options like The Germinator when I happen to grab onto a sticky shopping cart handle, or when we leave the doctor's office and I feel all cootied out.

The Germinator comes in a light citrus or tangerine scent, or a fragrance-free option, and you can purchase bottles of refill solution to cut down on waste. I love that. It uses Benzalkonium chloride rather than alcohol, so it still kills 99.9% of germs, but it doesn't strip your skin of its protective oils, and it doesn't become less effective over time either.

There are also Germinator wipes that come in a pop-up canister for the home, or in travel packs for on-the-go. Just pop a couple in your purse when you leave the house and you're ready for cootie control, as I like to call it.

The Germinator and other BabyGanics products can be found at Babies R Us, Buy Buy Baby and online at

It's nice to know there are some natural options during cold and flu season for moms like me who want to keep their kids comfortable without exposing them to dangerous chemicals.