But what if your kids are sick?
What if your baby spikes a fever?
And what about teething?
Parents whose doctors have recommended Tylenol but who are smart enough to toss it in the trash are confused as heck: What are the Tylenol alternatives? Are there better and safer remedies—natural Tylenol alternatives—that actually work?
The bad news: Doctors in countries throughout the world continue to ignore the compelling scientific research against acetaminophen and the link between Tylenol and SIDS deaths. Conventional doctors continue to recommend it to moms and pregnant women despite the fact that the science demonstrates that frequent use just isn’t safe.
As Duke University research scientist, William Parker, Ph.D., told me yesterday, “If acetaminophen had gone through today’s standards of testing, it never would have been approved for use with babies because it causes permanent neurodevelopmental problems when administered at therapeutic levels to newborn laboratory animals.”
Translation: Tylenol causes irreversible brain damage in baby rats. And may be doing the same in baby humans. Doctors who are paying attention, like this Yale-trained M.D. and this Dartmouth-trained one, recommend you never use it again. Acetaminophen is most likely a causative agent in the rise of autism.
Acetaminophen use has also been linked to asthma and other health problems. It’s bad stuff and I predict that the medical doctors passing it out like candy are going to be eating a lot of crow soon. I just wish they’d get the memo before their ignorance injures any more babies.
The good news: There are dozens of better and safer Tylenol alternatives. Some work fabulously. Others may be effective because of the placebo effect. I honestly don’t care if a safe, non-toxic natural Tylenol alternative works because of an underlying mechanism that we can scientifically explain or because you believe it works. The brain is a powerful and amazing organ. If it works it works. Bring on the sugar pills.
So what do you give your kids instead of Tylenol?
Glad you asked.
Tylenol alternatives for headaches:
- Try turmeric, a spice used in Indian cooking. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory. You can buy an organic supplement for the grown-ups but I recommend you get organic ground turmeric in the bulk section of your local health food store and then put it in capsules yourself or give it to your kids in yogurt, tea, or water. My co-author, Paul Thomas, M.D., dismisses this idea. “No one is going to do that, Jennifer. Too much work.” Start with 1/4 of a teaspoon in a few ounces of liquid, taking more if needed. It works for our family every time.
- Wet a washcloth with cool water and a drop or two of lavender essential oil. A warm washcloth works better for some, but most people prefer cold. Lie in a dark room with the washcloth loosely covering your eyes and forehead. And breathe. Take ten slow breaths. Inhale calm. Exhale any pain in your body. Your whole body will relax and your headache will go away. A child old enough to tell you her head hurts will have fun with this technique. Expect giggles. Yes, it’s a little hooey-wooey. But I invite you to try it next time your head hurts.
- Call the chiropractor. Chiropractors can work miracles with headaches in both children and adults. Especially if you suffer from migraines, chiropractic care can help.
If you must take a pill yourself or give one to your kid, old-fashioned aspirin is kind of wonderful. Before you snort coffee out your nose in indignation that I am suggesting you consider baby aspirin for your headache, I will remind you that it was the go-to pain reliever in the 1970s and 1980s before we saw an epidemic rise in autism and autoimmune disorders. Chances are you grew up taking the occasional aspirin. Many doctors believe its verboten status may not be warranted. So there.
Tylenol alternatives for teething:
- Arm with amber. Amber necklaces are the hippie go-to for teething. My sources tell me they work great. They look adorable and they certainly can’t hurt. They’re for wearing, not for chewing.
- Bring on the breastmilk. We froze water or breastmilk in popsicles and gave them to our teething babies to gnaw on. They loved it and the frozen “treats” took away their teething pain. Yum.
- Put on pressure. A baby who is drooling and uncomfortable because their tooth buds are just under the surface will happily gnaw on your finger or a wooden teething toy. This is often all you need to help with teething pain.
Tylenol alternatives for fevers:
- Don’t torture yourself over the temp. Moment of truth, mamas. Along with tossing the Tylenol, you need to put the thermometer away. Taking your baby’s temperature and fretting over it is a counterproductive activity. Believe me. Read the baby, not the thermometer. A lot of babies don’t even notice when they have a fever. It’s a sign that their little immune system is working just the way it’s supposed to. But the parents freak out. If you stash away your thermometer or simply don’t buy one in the first place, you’ll save yourself a lot of unnecessary panic.
- Let it burn. Now that you don’t have a thermometer, you don’t know your baby’s temperature so you aren’t going to freak out about it. But the truth is that a fever is doing its job, fighting infections. Just let the fever run its course. As long as your baby isn’t completely floppy and lethargic, you have nothing to fear from a fever. Immunologists increasingly agree that typical fevers are part of the body’s natural defense system. Blocking fever is literally immuno-suppressing your child, impairing your baby’s ability to fight infections. Here’s an excellent article by an M.D. that makes a persuasive case for letting fever run its course.
- Get nudie petudie with your baby. Take his clothes off. Even his diaper. Take your shirt off. Including your bra. Hold your feverish baby on your chest, skin to skin. Your body temperature will help regulate his. Plus you’ll both feel better being skin-to-skin.
- Keep it cool. Even though you now know you don’t need to bring your child’s fever down, if she’s burning up and uncomfortable, you can give her a sponge bath (just be careful she doesn’t get too cold and start to shiver), put her in a warm or tepid tub with some epsom salts (the magnesium she’ll absorb through her skin will be beneficial to healing), open a window to get a breeze into the room, feed her a cool food or drink, or turn on a fan.
Tylenol alternatives for ear infections:
If you’re a naturally minded family and you’re skipping the sugar and eating whole, real, fresh foods, as well as making judicious choices about immunizations (which means no hepatitis B birth dose or infant series, only one aluminum-containing shot at a time, and no unnecessary vaccinations), your babies are not going to get sick very often. They may never get an ear infection. And chances are they will not ever need antibiotics. None of our four needed an antibiotic growing up and three of our four have had no ear infections, not one.
But the baby had a sore ear once. Not sore enough for us to go to the doctor. But sore enough that we decided to treat it with home remedies. We did not give her Tylenol. Because Tylenol is toxic.
- Get garlic mullein oil. Garlic is a powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal and mullein flowers are used to great success to treat respiratory infections. Put 3-4 drops in the ear three times a day or until the pain clears up. You can make your own. We bought this brand at the local grocery store but I suspect others work just as well.
- Make a muff (from an onion). My daughter thought it was hilarious to put an onion ear muff on her ear. She still talks about it. I think she secretly wishes she could get another ear infection so she could do this again. We both laughed so hard. Maybe the onion had nothing to do with it but this worked like a charm. Cut an unpeeled onion in half, take out the inside so only 3 rings are left. Place the cut onion face down on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 300 degrees. The onion should be warm and a little steamy but not too hot. Use a towel to pick it up and place the warm onion over your child’s painful ear while your child is lying down. It’s super soothing, according to my daughter, whose ear “infection” (if that’s what it was) was cured in half an hour.
Want more ideas? This Facebook thread has 45 suggestions of effective Tylenol alternatives.
What have I forgotten? What are your favorite Tylenol alternatives? Please share them with us in the comment section below.
Published: June 28, 2018
Last update: February 6, 2020