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    Nursing the Wee Ones With Garlic

    December 18, 2007 by Brandy Vencel

    I once romanticized what it would be like when I became a Mommy and was up at night caring for a sick child. There is one, and only one, reason for this: no one ever told me that it was quite likely I would be sick also! In all my teenaged fantasies about this sacrificial part of motherhood, I never considered the sacrifice coming from a position of weakness. I always thought I would be the strong, well-rested Mommy coming to the rescue, not the weak, sniffling Mommy reaching for a tissue and wishing she were back in bed.

    Last night was one of those nights. I had been up late making Christmas gifts. Before I even got a chance to slip into bed, Baby Q. was up crying. And then croaking the most horrible cough I have ever heard. I dutifully suctioned her nose while she screamed, but at least she could breath more easily in the end.

    And then I rocked her. And as I rocked her, I listened to her labored breathing and a slightly suspicious rattle in her chest.

    It was time to pull out the garlic.

    I took Q. to Si while I prepared my supplies. Si put her in a steamy bath, which quickly changed her tune from pouting to playing. And I made her a folk remedy that has proven true every time. I don’t know if it will work for everyone, but it cetainly helps our family.

    I take a clean washcloth and fill it with a tablespoon {or two if it’s for an adult} of minced or crushed garlic. I fold the washcloth up so that there is no way the garlic will escape. I boil water. I pour boiling or almost boiling water over the washcloth. At this point, the whole house begins to smell like Italian food.


    I take said washcloth to the bathtub and make sure it is still warm but not enough to burn. And then I press it to the skin. Usually, I hold it to the back, chest, and bottoms of the feet for about 15 seconds each. If the child is complaining about their ear, I hold it over the ear for 15 seconds and then also do the feet. Skin is permeable, and garlic is considered an anti-fungal, anti-viral, all around good-for-your-health sort of plant. Some people eat it. We bathe in it.

    After we have done a set or two of 15 second intervals, I wash the child so they no longer smell like food. This way, if I have to get up with them later, they don’t make me hungry.

    You know what? Baby Q. slept well the rest of the night. We put her down in the playpen in our room just in case I needed to get to her quickly.

    The toddler woke up at 3:00 AM to interrogate me. She toddled in and stood there staring at me. Then she poked me somewhat forcefully. The she growled: “Q. seep in me woom!”

    {Translation: Baby Q. sleeps in my room.}

    I told her we would talk about it in the morning.

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  • Reply Brandy December 20, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    And right before Christmas! Poor baby! I hope you have a speedy recovery…

  • Reply Rahime December 20, 2007 at 8:53 am

    Looks like I’ll get to try it sooner than I’d thought.

  • Reply Brandy December 20, 2007 at 6:23 am

    So far so good. A., as I said before, had her garlic bath this morning. No coughing during nap this afternoon, no coughing as she fell asleep this evening. We will see if she has the night waking, though. That will be the real test!

    E. lucked out this time. He despises smelling the garlic, and he never got sick enough for me to insist. Maybe the mere thought of garlic is healing. hahaha

  • Reply Kimbrah December 20, 2007 at 5:01 am

    Brandy- We were already sick when we came over, and Si did warn us before we came, so if we did happen to catch anything else from you guys (which I really don’t think we did) we were forewarned. Don’t give it another thought. By the way, I am always up for a cootie party! 🙂

    I tried the garlic thing on all of the boys. I will let you know how it goes tonight with the night coughing/waking. I am really hoping this helps because it really stinks to pull an all-nighter with sick kids and then get up at 3:30am for your morning shift at the local coffee shop. I am totally beat!

    I hope things are on the upswing for you guys (and for us too!)


  • Reply Brandy December 19, 2007 at 7:34 pm


    Sorry we got you sick…AGAIN. I think that will be my new salespitch: Come over and get cooties!

    Think anyone will come? 🙂

    I am going to appreciate the coffee more than I realized. I was up seven times with A. last night (she was coughing, and would come in saying, “I toke, I toking,”–meaning “choking”). I thought I was the victim in this situation until Si told me that he was up with her four or five times also. Poor baby must not have slept except for the six o-clock hour when we were on the couch together!

    Needless to say, I am drinking a pot to get through the day. I am usually scrupulous about my caffeine consumption–one cup in the morning and one in the afternoon. Today, I make an exception!

    Let me know what you think of the garlic. A. already seems improved after her bath this morning, which makes me regret not giving her garlic earlier!

  • Reply Kimbrah December 19, 2007 at 7:29 pm

    Thanks for the tip! I think I am going to try this with all the boys this afternoon. I think we might have the same nastiness that is going through your household, but it hasn’t gotten me yet (knock on wood)!

    I hope you guys are feeling better soon!

    PS…I have your coffee and it looks so pretty! 🙂


  • Reply Brandy December 19, 2007 at 7:26 pm

    You crack me up!

    The technique you thought up is something I have heard of used in a little basin. Apparently, some folks use it to combat athlete’s foot. They steep it in the basin and then have the “patient” keep their feet in the water for a time…not sure how long. I have never done this, but it makes sense since garlic has anti-fungal effects.

    I gave A. a garlic bath today as well. I wish we weren’t on a gluten-free diet around here. I am getting pizza cravings with all this garlic! Maybe it is time for another post-bedtime pizza delivery…

  • Reply Rahime December 19, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    This sounds very interesting. I love garlic’s healthful qualities!

    I wonder if soaking in garlic water would help at all (the washcloth you mentioned reminded me of a big tea bag if it were secured with a rubber band)…put it in a little bit of very hot bath water for a while to “steep” then fill the bath to an appropriate temp. and soak a while. I guess the disadvantage of this is you’d need to use even more water to wash the garlic smell off.

    I hope your little one feels better.

  • Reply Jennifer Marie December 18, 2007 at 11:08 pm

    Wow! Thanks. I can’t wait (did I just say that? You know what I mean…) to try it out.

    P.S. I think this is funny. My “word verification” to post a comment on your site is “fekul”. Hee hee.

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