Many parents are justifiably concerned about the safety of over-the-counter pediatric medicines after several cold, cough, and fever-reducing formulas were pulled from shelves because of potentially harmful ingredients. Adding to skepticism is the fact that medicines generally are not tested on children, nor tested in combination with other common medicines.

In contrast, homeopathics are safe even for infant complaints such as teething and colic. One study published in Advances in Pediatric Infectious Diseases found that of 242 Honduran children suffering from childhood diarrhea, those given a combination homeopathic remedy recovered on average one day sooner than those given a placebo.

“When you use homeopathy at home with your children, it’s best for treating simple, acute, self-limiting infections,” says Shevins, “colds; coughs, when you don’t need an X ray; and digestive problems like a 24-hour stomach bug.” The bottom line, she says: Use common sense; don’t treat anything you’re not qualified to treat, and consult a professional for an infection diagnosis, such as an ear infection. Likewise, be sure to continue other effective home-care measures, such as giving electrolytes and probiotics to a child with a stomach bug.

Growing anecdotal evidence shows that homeopathy may improve children’s behavior , including conditions such as ADHD and anxiety. In these cases, a homeopathic professional should diagnose and guide treatment. “Sometimes, as a patient is getting better, there’s an initial aggravation of symptoms,” says Shevins. “But that can be a good sign if it comes with an improvement in overall well-being on a deep level.”