As a dad of three kids under ten, I want everything I feed to or apply on my children to be as natural and healthy as possible, from tap water to cold remedies.

However, as parents we don’t always have a clear choice—from medicine to processed food we have to be discerning caretakers and consumers on a whole new level.

Which, many times, is impossible. Life comes at us too fast and before you know it you’re in the “20 Items and Under” checkout line with the kids in tow, forgetting to say no to plastic bags and buying way too much “instant” food that’s over-packaged and full of sweeter-than-normal sugary goodness.

It’s hard out there for a dad or mom.

Organic, natural, or whatever is on sale

It seems like I spend most afternoons buying something at the supermarket, whether it’s more milk or oatmeal, or both. My basket always comes out to be $25 or more, even when I’m just buying a few items and shopping at the market with lower prices. That’s how it is.

But at least we’re getting more of a choice these days, from the largest brand-name companies that are leading the market on leaner and sugar-free foods to smaller companies that have taken off in the last ten years, offering all-natural and organic options, which then are quite comparable to the generic brands, which have started to offer similar versions.

You can tell that there’s a difference being made when the “Organic” section of the supermarket is no longer just one wall, but a smattering of products right next to the old tried-and-true brands of your childhood.

The medicine and health aisle

Bathroom products, health aids, and cold and flu remedies are more difficult, however.

Many parents forget and forego the all-natural approach to medicine because we’ve been marketed into thinking that healthy is “good” for you when eating but not when it comes to medicine or cold remedies—which, themselves, aren’t cure-all remedies but rather they are products to soothe you when you’re sick in order to comfort you as your body heals.

Most “remedies” contain phthalates, parabens, or chemicals that are hazardous or carcinogenic. But all-natural cough syrup and body rubs like Maty’s Healthy Products offer great relief without any irritants or unnecessary chemical components.

Maty’s Baby Chest Rub, for example, is my new go-to when my son or daughter needs that extra comfort before bed, or when my two-year-old needs to clear her congestion. I feel better using a product that strengthens their immune system without petroleum, sulfates, menthol or artificial colors even though I’ve been running to the cabinet to grab the typical “menthol rub” that we all used to swear by.

In our house we also use an essential oil diffuser on a regular basis, and so I figured a chest rub product made from the same essential oils and flowers would be just a prudent (and I even use it myself during nastier New England winter nights).

The weekly bottom line

Once we started having kids we had to get even more “real” about how we ate and what products we bought for our babies and ourselves. Affording a total shopping cart of all-natural or organic products wasn’t a reality for us every week, but choosing wisely here and there—like joining a CSA or buying more natural health products and oils—has made a healthier difference for us and, more importantly, our children.

Photo: Author

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