Even if it is a load of cobblers, it'll distract you both
This hack landed in my inbox at a time when I could barely focus on my bone-idle surfing on account of Mary’s gruesome coughing fits. After three days, it wasn’t getting better for this toddler, and was worse at night (of course). In combination with a streaming cold, she’d already chucked up twice as phlegm got misdirected: once in the garden (result!), once in the back seat (STOP THE CAR! I SAID STOP THE CAR!).
So we slapped on some imitation Vicks that we’d bought when she was a newborn, because the genuine article isn’t recommended for babies less than six months, on account of the camphor. Camphor is made from turps and is a counterirritant, “which reduces pain and swelling by causing irritation”. That’s one of those circular sentences that makes my head hurt.
Anyway, we put her down for her nap, and guess what? Nothing happened. By which I mean she continued to cough and make herself sick.
But I’m made of sterner stuff. If I’m going to follow some hokey advice from the internet, you can bet I’ll do it properly, and at the back of the cupboard I found a jar of the real deal: Vicks VapoRub. Since she was 18 months old, I figured she was ready for a little counterirritant and by bedtime we were all ready for a decent night’s sleep. So on it went, much to her bemusement (“Why are you rubbing my feet and putting socks on me when it’s bedtime? And what the hell is that funny smell?”)
Guess what? She slept straight through, didn’t cough once. No joke. And while the cough returned, it never got a hold again in the same way and repeat applications often seemed to have the same calming effect. Often, not always. (She was getting better anyway! screams someone at the back. Ah shut up, you’re ruining my post.)
Now this old wive’s trick is surely bogus. It has its own Snopes page, and this guy has done a far better job than me in working out why. It’s akin to Tuning Fork Therapy, but without the consultation fees. But I didn’t read either of those articles before I did it, I wanted it to work very badly, and she slept properly for the first time in several nights. So if you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find the jar of Vicks… fill your boots. Or your child’s boots, for maximum placebo effect.
Have you tried the Vicks trick? Any joy? And what other tips from your mother-in-law have you tried that plainly wouldn’t work except that, y’know, they actually did? Just so we can definitely not try it too when we’re desperate, you understand.