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Toddler herbal teas: What’s safe for your child and what’s not

Tea is unsafe as it harms their health, but herbal tea without caffeine may be given to children. Picture: Supplied

Tea is unsafe as it harms their health, but herbal tea without caffeine may be given to children. Picture: Supplied

Published Jan 23, 2023

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Want to use some tea to soothe your little child’s cold? Warm beverages may provide some comfort while also easing coughs, sore throats, and sniffles.

However, if you have small children, you need to think about a few things before keeping any old tea bags in your cabinet.

Here is some information about selecting and preparing tea for young children, as well as some safety issues that you might want to discuss with your child’s paediatrician.

Is it okay to serve tea to your toddler?

The ingredient list should always come first when deciding which teas to feed your kid. Caffeine is included in many teas, especially black and green leaf kinds. (I suppose that’s why we worn-out parents adore them for ourselves.)

No quantity of the stimulant caffeine is advised for young children under the age of 12. It might result in anything from anxiety and difficulty sleeping to problems with excessive urine production and low sodium/potassium levels.

Plant seeds, roots, and leaves are used to make herbal teas. They often don’t have caffeine. You may purchase them individually as bags or loose leaf tea. Bagged teas frequently include more than one kind of herb, so carefully review the ingredient list. Certain plants, including chamomile, have been approved as safe for babies and young children. Others, such as red clover, are either harmful or ambiguous. Check the labels on the drinks your youngster is consuming.

Another issue is allergies. Children especially may have allergies to the herbs in tea. Breathing difficulties and swelling of the throat, lips, tongue, and face are indications of an allergic response. Very spooky! Contact your child's health-care practitioner if you think they could be having an allergic response or if you have any other worries about this.

Researchers state in a study titled "Herbal Supplements: Indications, Clinical Concerns, and Safety" that herbal treatments like tea containing the following ingredients are often safe for kids:

Catnip

Chamomile

Fennel

Ginger

Lemon balm

Mint

This is presuming that your youngster is healthy and doesn’t have any ailments like liver or renal illness.

If you choose to seek for teas made from these or other herbs, make sure the tea bag specifies that it is caffeine-free and that the herbs aren't combined with any unidentified components.

Catnip Our feline buddies don't only like catnip! This mint-family plant, from which catnip tea may be made, is praised for its capacity to relieve tension, improve sleep, and soothe upset stomachs, among other advantages. To relieve aches and pains, you may even soak it in a bath.

Despite the paucity of studies on this plant, one earlier study concluded that it was safe for kids to take in moderation. Catnip is one of the plants that Jim Duke, a PhD in botany, recommends for paediatric use.

Chamomile

In addition to its reputation as a relaxing plant, chamomile may also have anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic (think muscular spasms) qualities. It also happens to be one of the herbal teas that you can get at the shop the most frequently.

The daisy-like blossoms of the plant give chamomile its gentle, flowery flavour. To help your kid relax, Lisa Watson, a naturopathic physician and writer, suggests steeping this tea in the evening before bedtime or tense situations.

Be aware that if your kid has problems with ragweed, chrysanthemums, or other related plants in the Compositae family, they may also have sensitivity to or even allergies to chamomile.

Fennel

Fennel has long been used to treat gastrointestinal issues like colic and gas discomfort. It could help the upper respiratory system when a cold or cough is present. But take care – the root itself has a strong, licorice-like flavour that kids might not first enjoy.

As the herb includes an organic compound called estragole, some people are wary about utilising fennel drinks and products. They think estragole could contribute to cancer, especially liver cancer. However, at least one researcher notes that paediatric liver cancer is uncommon in Italy, where fennel is frequently consumed by babies and young children.

Ginger

Ginger tea is frequently commended for its potential to improve digestion and lessen motion sickness or nausea since it has anti-inflammatory qualities. Additionally, this herb could be beneficial for congestion and circulation. Kids may or may not enjoy the spicy flavour of it.

Despite the little studies, ginger appears to be safe for youngsters according to the most recent data. But too much ginger, especially if it’s aggressively brewed, might make you feel nauseous.

Lemon balm

Lemon balm, according to naturopathic physician Maggie Luther, is essential for children. This herb, which has a lemony flavour, as you would have imagined, is frequently used to enhance the fruity flavour of different other teas. It may assist with anxiety and sleep disorders, among other things. Lemon balm may also have antiviral qualities, making it a healthy beverage to drink when the flu and cough are in season.

Researchers combined lemon balm and valerian root in a study titled “A combination of valerian and lemon balm is beneficial in the treatment of restlessness and dyssomnia in children” to aid young children who had difficulties sleeping and were restless. They came to the conclusion that even young children might tolerate and benefit from these plants.

Peppermint

An upset stomach (including colic, nausea, and irritable bowel syndrome), stress, nasal congestion, and cough suppression can all be helped by peppermint. Watson advises feeding your child this tea in the evenings to help them recover from a cold. If your youngster has ever licked a sugar cane, they may already be familiar with the flavour because it is bold and refreshing.

Studies on peppermint tea and people are few. Although it’s not apparent if children were included in these studies, the ones that have been done haven’t demonstrated any adverse impacts on humans.

There is still some debate on how teas affect young children, despite the fact that you will probably find a ton of suggestions for herbs to give your child.

Even some teas that are geared at children exist. In spite of the fact that they may be labelled as teas, it is still a good idea to speak with your child’s paediatrician before giving them any beverages.

Remember that while certain herbs may be healthy for children in moderation, there isn’t any evidence to support many of the claims made about them or their possible advantages and hazards.