Keeping a well stocked herbal medicine cabinet is always at the top of any natural mama’s list. Being able to reach for an herbal remedy whenever an illness suddenly pops up gives peace of mind to be able to naturally treat illness at home. But what if a baby presents with an illness — how does one use herbs safely in the under 1 crowd?
By Jacki May, Contributing Writer
How to Use Herbs Safely with Children Under 1
Whenever we welcomed a new baby into our home (we have 4 of them!), we always felt strongly about watching what we were putting into their bodies. I didn’t grow up in a natural home so I had no clue how to use herbs safely with children under 1. The internet certainly has mixed ideas on what is safe and what isn’t…so what are we supposed to do?
Thankfully, there are many ways you can use herbs safely with children under 1. The two biggest considerations: preparation and herb choice.
I LOVE creating herbal infusions for children under 1. They can be use for a variety of ailments from skin irritations, eye irritations, and baths. They are extremely gentle and easy to make.
The WHO recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for 6 months but children under 1 can drink infusions. They don’t have to drink a full cup though, 1/2 teaspoon 3-4 times a day is sufficient for most needs.
For eye irritations, steep a cup of tea and clean the eye with a soft cotton round from the inside of the eye out, using a new cotton round each time.
For baths, steep 1/2 cup of herb in 1 quart of boiling water and add to bath (along with Epsom salts).
These are great for taking care of baby’s skin and getting some healing benefits of herbs. Those concerned with using essential oils on young babies will often find that herbal infused oils are a fantastic option.
What about tinctures and syrups?
While both preparations are safe for children under 1, infused and herbal oils are the safest option. For those wanting to use syrups, choose vegetable glycerin instead of honey. When using tinctures, check in with an herbalist for correct dosing.
When working with children under 1, you want to stick with nourishing herbs…very similar to guidelines when using herbs when pregnant. Avoid stimulating herbs and strong herbs unless working with an herbalist.
Herbs to use with children under 1:
- Lavender – diaper rashes, skin rashes, calming
- Chamomile* – eye gunk, diaper rashes, tummy aches, calming
- Calendula – rashes, scratches, bruising, ear infections
- Elderberry – immune boosting (in tea, see infusion section for dosing. Breastfeeding mothers can also take elderberry and have it pass through breastmilk)
- Lemon balm – uncomplicated coughs, colds, tummy aches, over-stimulation, fever
- Catnip – tummy aches, over-stimulation, fever
- Slippery elm – constipation, reflux, sore throats
- Fennel – tummy issues (tea…see infusion section for dosing)
- Mullein – ear infections, uncomplicated coughs
*Chamomile is related to ragweed, those who suffer with an allergy to ragweed could potentially be allergic to chamomile. Check with a skin patch test before using or use one of the other herbs listed.
Just remember to keep it simple, children don’t need complicated formulas to see results. Start with just 1 herb in an infusion and see where that takes you. If you have questions, contact an herbalist.