When you want to relax and enjoy the evening or have trouble sleeping at night, a warm cup of chamomile tea is all you need. Thanks to its soothing and relaxing properties, chamomile tea is a popular beverage around the world. But did you know that chamomile tea can also help soothe babies?
The infusion is a popular home remedy to control colic and alleviate fussiness among infants. Here, MomJunction tells you how safe chamomile tea is for babies, its benefits, and side effects if any.
What Is Chamomile Tea?
Chamomile tea is a herbal infusion made with dry chamomile flowers and hot water (1). It is not an actual “tea” since no real tea leaves are used in it.
The chamomile plant is found commonly in Europe and comes in two varieties: German chamomile and Roman chamomile (2).
When Can Babies Have Chamomile Tea?
Chamomile tea can be given to babies aged six months or older (3).
It is considered safe after the baby is a year old, when you also introduce other foods and the chance of food allergies is less (4). Babies under the age of six months should only have breast milk.
In any case, do NOT introduce chamomile tea without consulting your pediatrician or a pediatric dietitian. If you get the go-ahead, you may introduce it in small amounts.
How Much Chamomile Tea Can A Baby Have?
For the first dose, you can stick to 0.5oz (15ml). If the baby accepts it well, then you can start giving 1oz (30ml) of tea per dose whenever the baby has colic, fussiness, gastric discomfort, and other conditions that are relieved by chamomile tea.
A study has found that about 5oz (147ml) of herbal tea per dose displayed the maximum benefit to the baby (5).
However, it is best to choose a smaller quantity. About 2-3oz (60-90ml) of chamomile tea per day (24 hours) is safe to use, and beneficial too.
What Are The Benefits Of Chamomile Tea For An Infant?
Chamomile tea can provide the following benefits to an infant (6):
- Subdues colic and fussiness: Studies have found that chamomile tea helps control colic in infants. Regular use of the tea has shown to control chronic colic. Babies who tend to be fussy also feel better after the consumption of chamomile tea. However, it is not known how chamomile works on these conditions.
- Helps the baby sleep better: Chamomile tea is a natural relaxant and can be useful in cases where the infant has a disturbed sleep schedule.
- Works as a digestive relaxant: Several compounds in the chamomile help relax the digestive tract, thus aiding in digestion and preventing the development of gas. Chamomile tea even provides relief from stomach cramps.
- Helps with the common cold: Chamomile tea relieves upper respiratory discomfort due to common cold and cough. Giving your baby some chamomile tea during cold can help him breathe easy.
- Brings down inflammation: Antioxidant compounds in chamomile reduce inflammation. This property can be useful when the baby suffers from an inflammatory skin condition such as a sunburn or diaper rash. Chamomile tea is also helpful in reducing inflammation and irritation of the gums during teething.
- Eases some medical conditions: Chamomile tea may also reduce the intensity of some gastrointestinal tract conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gastroesophageal reflux (GER).
Please note that there isn’t enough research on the benefits of chamomile tea for adults, let alone infants. So, take the advice of your baby’s pediatrician on giving chamomile tea to your baby.
Also, if you are using chamomile for the baby, you need to be careful while buying it.
How To Purchase Chamomile Tea For Babies?
Here is how you can pick the best chamomile tea for your baby:
- Reputed brand and store: Always buy tea manufactured by a trustworthy, popular brand. It ensures that you get pure chamomile tea, without any adulteration and contamination. Also, purchase it from a reputed store to make sure the tea is not tampered with.
- Choose only tea bags: Tea bags are factory made and often come sealed in individual packets. It makes them less prone to bacterial contamination, even when the main packaging is opened.
- Never purchase loose chamomile tea: A study found that unwrapped/loose chamomile tea sold in herbal stores is often contaminated with the spores of the Clostridium botulinum bacteria that can cause infant botulism, which is the colonization of bacteria in the intestine (7).
Babies below the age of 12 months are most at the risk of botulism since their natural intestinal bacterial floral cannot overpower the Clostridium bacteria (8). After the first year, the baby’s intestines have enough good bacteria to compete with harmful bacteria. Nevertheless, avoid using loose chamomile tea for babies.
- Select pure chamomile tea: Ensure that you buy only pure chamomile tea bags, without added ingredients such as peppermint, tea leaves, rooibos leaves or lavender, as you do not know how the baby’s body would react to them.
Once you buy the tea from the right source, you need to prepare it right. Let’s see how to do it.
How To Prepare Chamomile Tea For Babies?
Follow these steps to make chamomile tea for babies:
- Boil water.
- Place the teabag in a cup and add the boiled water to it.
- Let it stay for 10 minutes.
- Remove the teabag and let the water become lukewarm.
- Give the tea in small sips or with a spoon to the baby. You can also use a feeding bottle or a sipper.
But before you give chamomile tea to your baby, it is good to know about its side-effects.
Are There Any Side-effects Of Chamomile Tea For Infants?
Yes. Like any other food item, chamomile tea could have side-effects. The following are the possible side-effects in babies:
- Food allergy: A baby can be allergic to chamomile tea. Symptoms include skin hives, nausea, vomiting, swelling of the face, and immense lethargy. Severe allergy causes a condition called an anaphylactic shock, where the symptoms multiply. Take your baby to a doctor if you suspect an allergic reaction to chamomile tea.
- Reaction to medicines: Chamomile may react with some drugs including antifungal drugs. So if your baby is on some medication, then double check with the doctor before giving chamomile tea to the baby.
- Reaction to other food items: Chamomile may react with other food items consumed by the infant. It can react with other plants within the same botanical family as chamomile, such as the sunflower (9). So be extra careful when you want to give chamomile to the baby.
- May complicate some medical conditions: If your baby suffers from some congenital problems, then chamomile may complicate the disease. For example, if your baby has congenital type-1 diabetes, then chamomile may cause a drastic dip in blood sugar causing hypoglycemia, which can be harmful to the baby.
Check with the pediatrician before giving chamomile tea to your baby, especially if the baby is on medication or has a congenital health issue.
Chamomile tea makes an excellent home remedy for several ailments of the baby. But at the same time, scientists state that there is not enough proof about the efficiency of herbal teas, and more research is needed for the same (10). However, there is evidence of the advantages of chamomile tea. The best way to keep the baby safe is to choose safe dosages and the purest form of the herbal tea.
Have you tried chamomile tea for your baby? Tell us about it in the comments section.