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Naturally Healthy Babies and Children by Aviva Jill Romm

Naturally Healthy Babies and Children by Aviva Jill Romm. Berkeley, California: Celestial Arts, 2003. 435 pp. soft-cover. ISBN: 1-58761-192-9. $16.95.

Naturally Healthy Babies and Children: A Commonsense Guide to Herbal Remedies, Nutrition, and Health was first published by Storey Books in 2000. This new edition is a pleasure to see because it would be a loss to the profession if this book were out of print. In a time of high technology and fast pace, this book provides a refreshing alternative based on family and health. Aviva Romm offers a common sense approach to the everyday business of raising healthy children and being a family.

This guide empowers parents to participate actively in their children’s health by making informed decisions. It provides information and options for parents who are unfamiliar with natural remedies and herbal medicines. The book is well written with clear instructions, cautions, and many easy-to-make recipes. The author includes a chapter on how to make a home herbal medicine chest, stocked with all the essentials to cover most of the basic first aid and general treatment needs of a family.

There is a section on how to conduct a basic physical exam, which recommends that all parents take a cardiopulmonary resuscitation course and learn how to take their child’s vital signs. Some of the physical examinations mentioned may be better left to the health care provider because such home examinations could lead to a misdiagnosis or mistreatment. For example, during an ear exam, the lay person may have difficulty viewing the tympanic membrane. However, the author does give guidelines for seeking medical advice and recognizing the signs that require immediate medical attention.

More than half the book’s pages are devoted to an A to Z guide of remedies for common childhood complaints. This section covers practically all the health aliments that may arise during childhood including acne, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder), choking, food sensitivities, intestinal parasites, nightmares, stress, and vomiting. Each complaint is medically defined in simple terms with general, dietary, and herbal recommendations following. The author gives appropriate medical warnings for potentially serious situations or signs, which direct the parent to seek professional medical attention. In this section are many herbal formulas and recipes which Romm has used in raising her four healthy children and in her busy herbal practice. Her experience working with infants and children gives the book a flavor which captures the aroma of her garden and medicine chest.

An unusual feature of this book is that it does not have a special section that contains all the herb monographs, as is provided in a materia medica of children’s herbs. Rather, the author has chosen to intersperse them throughout the entire text in highlighted boxes. All plants are discussed in a similar format that covers parts used, chemical compounds, taste, main therapeutic uses, and preparation and dosage. The index indicates primary entries for each plant by listing the page numbers in bold font for easy access.

The author’s list of resources and further reading on the subject offers newcomers a place to research more information and herbal products. This is not a scientific book; that is, one referenced with double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trials or laden with pharmacological data. However, the book is filled with common sense about health and herbs. It is designed to be a helpful guide for day-to-day use—not to be forgotten on some bookshelf in the study. It is a reference for all parents and families interested in the wellness of their children. The book offers valuable information to the physician, nurse, herbalist, or student of botanical medicine on a unique and special topic.

—Mary Bove, ND, MW, AHG