Herbs to stimulate baby's appetite?

Do you know of herbs that are safe enough for a one year old to stimulate her appetite? I read books on herbal medicine, some of them say gentian root and chamomile teas are effective, but didn't mention whether they were safe for infants.

Thanks.

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

Dear Yu Yun,

Studies are not carried out to test the safety of herbs on babies, and therefore it is not recommended that they are used for them. The pharmacological effect of herbs requires breakdown of them by the liver, and because babies livers are still small and immature, a safe dose for an adult can be dangerous for an infant. Many herbs are in fact toxic to babies. Of course there is scads of historical information about the effectiveness of different herbs for different medicinal uses in children, and many folks rely on this information. Also, herbal teas tend to be far less potent than their counterpart in capsule form, and so a cup of herbal tea may be safe, when otherwise it may not be. However, I cannot knowledgeably say to you that a cup of chamomile tea would be fine for your baby. If you think you would like to try such a remedy, than it is very important that you first get the advise of your pediatrician. Until there are conclusive studies that prove that the tea is not only safe, but beneficial, you would be wise to look for more reliable methods to perk up your baby's appetite.

Some methods to assure your baby will eat heartily, is to be sure meals are served when she is hungry. Check that she is not filling up on juices or snacks during the day. Provide plenty of opportunities for physical activity during the day. Cook foods with pleasant aromas that you know she likes. Serve the food in a pleasant, quiet, calm, non-stressful or rushed atmosphere. Make the food consistency appropriate for her. Do not put so much in front of her that she is overwhelmed. Make the food pieces small, easy to chew, and colorful. Sit down with her when she eats to give her company and to supply a role model. Eliminate all other forms of distraction such as television or toys.

Also, you need to recognize that baby's appetites fall off at the age of one, when their growth rate slows. It is normal for appetites to become smaller for a couple of years. It may be that your baby's appetite is just fine for her age and her rate of growth for now.

Thank you for writing.

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