Is it okay to give herbal teas to my children, who are 5, 9 and 11?

Is it okay to give herbal teas to my children, who are 5, 9 and 11?

Question:
Tanya Edwards, M.D.
ABOUT THE EXPERT

Tanya Edwards, M.D.

A family physician, Dr. Tanya Edwards is passionate about using nutrition for the prevention and treatment of chronic illness.  She... Read more

Chamomile tea, made from an herb that grows low to the ground, resembles a mini daisy, smells of apple and is native to Europe and the Mediterranean, has been used for centuries by parents to help soothe infants with colicky symptoms (irritability, crying, upset stomach), and to help calm older children, lessen anxiety and even improve sleep. (I also often recommend chamomile to patients in my practice who are trying to quit smoking. I find that it can soothe the irritability produced by nicotine withdrawal.) As with any recommendation, check with your pediatrician before offering chamomile tea to your kids. In general, it's recognized as safe for infants and children. However, a child who has severe ragweed allergies should avoid the herb, since ragweed and chamomile are in the same family and therefore have the potential to produce the same effects. If there are no allergies and your pediatrician has given the go-ahead, kids age 1 and older can sip one to two cups of the brewed tea throughout the day. Infants can have three to five ounces per day. It's interesting to note that serving children soothing teas is a fairly common practice among mothers from various cultural backgrounds. In one study, researchers observed roughly 1,000 moms and found that, in addition to obvious ways to comfort a baby, such as by breast-feeding, holding and allowing the infant to suck on the mother's finger, moms also fed baby herbal teas. Fennel, mint, fenugreek and chamomile were commonly used teas. However, when it comes to safety and efficacy, I'm only aware of studies that have been done on chamomile. Answer: