DIY health cures every mum should know

From easing teething pain to soothing tummy ache, these simple, effective remedies will help your tot feel better fast.


1. Ease teething pain
You’ll need:  A clean flannel.
What to do:  Fold the flannel into a triangle, dip a corner in water and freeze. When pain strikes, let your baby gnaw on the frozen end. Don’t give straight from the freezer as it could cause freezer burn.
Why it helps:  The fabric and the cold help soothe irritated gums and inflammation.
When to see a doctor: If pain is severe and baby painkillers aren’t helping. 


2. Soothe nappy rash
You’ll need: A hairdryer with a cool-air setting.
What to do: Wash your baby’s bottom with plain warm water, then lay her over your lap and gently dry her off using a hairdryer switched to its cool setting.
Why it helps: Warm water on its own, with no added toiletries, will clean the skin without irritating, while drying her bottom with cool air soothes sore skin and saves towel drying which can cause friction.
When to see a doctor: If the soreness doesn’t clear after two or three days or if the rash looks dark red or raised. 

3. Treat a sting
You’ll need: A credit card or tweezers and an ice cube.
What to do: Use the credit card or tweezers to scrape off the sting. Wash with soapy water, then soothe with an ice cube.
Why it helps: Scraping off the sting, rather than using your fingers, reduces the risk of squeezing venom back into the skin. The ice reduces pain and swelling.
When to see a doctor: If your child has an allergic reaction to it.
DIAL 999 if he has difficulty breathing or swelling of the mouth or neck area. 

4. Give medicine to a toddler
You’ll need: An ice lolly, plus spoon or medicine syringe.
What to do: Hold your child, let her take several sucks or licks of the lolly until her mouth is ‘chilled’, then spoon or squirt the medicine in.
Why it helps: The ice numbs a child’s tongue making her less sensitive to taste and less likely to spit the medicine out.
When to see a doctor: If your child can’t keep the medicine down and symptoms get worse. 

5. Clear cradle cap
You’ll need: A bowl of olive oil.
What to do: Rub oil into your baby’s scalp before bed. The next day, comb his hair to remove scales, then wash with baby shampoo.
Why it helps: The oil gently moisturises the scalp and helps to lift away any scales.
When to see a doctor: If it doesn’t work, or if your baby has eczema on his face or body. Occasionally, a severe case may need hydrocortisone cream and a special shampoo.

6. Comfort for colic
You’ll need: A hot water bottle and a towel.
What to do: Fill the water bottle with warm, not hot, water and wrap it in the towel. Don’t overfill. Burp your baby to get rid of any trapped wind, then sit with the covered hot water bottle on your lap and lie your baby face down so his tummy rests on the warm towel.
Why it helps: The warmth is very soothing on a baby’s sore tum. Gentle rocking and back massage will also help.
When to see a doctor: If your baby seems inconsolable and you notice any of the symptoms listed below that need special medical help. 

7. Cool sunburn
You’ll need: A cupful of bicarbonate of soda.
What to do: Keep babies out of the sun and older children covered with a high factor suncream. For mild sunburn, give him a tepid bath with a cup of bicarb of soda added.
Why it helps: It cools the skin and prevents peeling.
When to see a doctor: If blisters or a rash appear or it looks painful. Always see a doctor if a baby or young child gets burnt. 

8. Settle an upset tummy
You’ll need: Flat cola or lemonade.
What to do: A one-off bout of sickness or diarrhoea in a toddler isn’t usually a problem, but she may feel weak and wobbly afterwards. Give her plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and some flat cola or lemonade to help her get her energy back.
Why it helps: It helps to replace the salts and sugars lost through sickness and diarrhoea.
When to see a doctor: If symptoms persist, especially any that need medical help, listed below. 

9. Vanish a verruca
You’ll need: A banana skin.
What to do: Tape a small piece of very ripe or black banana skin, inside down, onto the verucca so it’s in constant contact. Replace daily until the verucca disappears.
Why it helps: A special enzyme in the banana skin is thought to attack and kill off the verucca.
When to see a doctor: If it doesn’t go. While most veruccas disappear eventually, they can sometimes become painful to walk on and may need to be ‘frozen off’ by a doctor. 

Symptoms that need medical help
Minor illnesses usually get better with some home nursing and TLC, but monitor your baby’s symptoms and don’t hesitate to seek medical advice if you’re worried, especially if your baby has any of the following:

  • Persistent diarrhoea and vomiting.
  • A temperature or fever over 37°C (98.6°F) that won’t come down despite treatment, such as baby painkillers.
  • If your baby’s limp, floppy or shows signs of dehydration such as sunken eyes
    and persistently dry nappies.
  • If your baby’s in pain and you’re particularly worried.
  • DIAL 999 if your child has a rash that doesn’t fade when a glass is pressed against it. This could be meningitis and needs urgent medical treatment.
  • For advice about any of your child’s symptoms, call NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or log on to

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