You have a warm cup of chamomile tea when you have trouble sleeping or want to relax. But can chamomile tea for babies work the same way? Though it has relaxing and soothing properties, you may want to know in detail before you give it to your little one. Infusing this popular home remedy in your baby’s cup could help control colic and ease fussiness, but does it have other benefits? Keep reading this post as we tell you how safe chamomile tea is for babies, its side effects, and more.
What Is Chamomile Tea?
Chamomile tea is an herbal infusion made with dry chamomile flowers and hot water (1). The chamomile plant is commonly found in Europe and comes in two varieties: German chamomile and Roman chamomile (2).
The US Food and Drug Administration has categorized chamomile as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) for use in food. Although there is no data available on the safety of chamomile in nursing mothers or infants, it is safely used for infants. However, there might be a rare risk of sensitization (3). Therefore, you need to talk to your pediatrician before using chamomile tea for your baby.
When Can Babies Have Chamomile Tea?
Chamomile tea could be given to babies aged six months or older (4).
It is considered safe after the baby is a year old, when you can also introduce other foods and the chance of food allergies is less (5). 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 could 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 considered to be relieved by chamomile tea.
A study has found that about 5oz (147ml) of herbal tea per dose displayed the maximum benefit to the baby (6).
However, it is best to choose a smaller quantity. About 2-3oz (60-90ml) of chamomile tea per day (24 hours) is considered safe to use and could be beneficial too.
In any case, your baby’s doctor could suggest the ideal dosage of this tea for the baby.
Benefits Of Chamomile Tea For Babies
Chamomile tea could provide the following benefits to an infant:
1. Could subdue colic and fussiness
Studies have found that chamomile tea could help control colic in infants. However, clinical trials supporting this claim are limited (4). In some studies, regular use of the tea has shown to control chronic colic. It was also found that babies who tend to be fussy also felt better after the consumption of chamomile tea. However, it is not known how chamomile works on these conditions.
2. Could aid in sleep
In traditional medicine, chamomile extract has been used to treat sleep problems. Both oral and topical application of chamomile has shown to have calming effects that help induce sleep (1). Thus, its use may prove to be useful in cases where the infant has a disturbed sleep schedule. However, there are limited clinical studies to support the proposed benefit.
3. Works as a digestive relaxant
Traditionally, chamomile tea has been used to treat digestive issues. It is believed that chamomile has several bioactive compounds that could help relax the digestive tract, thus aiding in digestion (1). Chamomile tea may provide relief from stomach cramps as well (7).
4. Aids in relieving common cold symptoms
Chamomile tea is considered to relieve upper respiratory discomfort caused due to common cold and cough. Giving your baby some chamomile tea during cold could help in making breathing easier. It might also help in stimulating the immune system to fight off the viral infection (9).
5. Has anti-inflammatory properties
Chamomile has been found to have antioxidant properties (8). This property could be useful when the baby suffers from an inflammatory skin condition such as a sunburn or diaper rash. It is owing to the same property that chamomile tea is also believed to be helpful in reducing inflammation and irritation of the gums during teething (9).
6. Possibly ease some medical conditions
As per the folklore and traditional medicine practices, chamomile tea is believed to reduce the intensity of some gastrointestinal tract conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gastroesophageal reflux (GER). However, clinical studies supporting the belief are limited.
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 (6).
Babies below the age of 12 months are most at risk of botulism since their natural intestinal bacterial floral cannot overpower the Clostridium bacteria (10). 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 tea bag in a cup and add boiling 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.
Remember not to add honey or milk to tea when preparing it for babies.
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:
1. 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 anaphylactic shock, where the symptoms multiply (11). Take your baby to a doctor if you suspect an allergic reaction to chamomile tea.
Chamomile might also have the possibility of cross-reactivity with echinacea, feverfew, milk thistle, and other members of the aster family. So, if your baby is allergic to any one of these, then the chances of allergy to chamomile are higher, too.
2. 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 (12).
3. 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 (13). So be extra careful when you want to give chamomile to the baby.
4. 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 teas are known for their medicinal properties, such as relieving colic, aiding in sleep, and reducing cold symptoms. Chamomile tea for babies can be given after six months of age. However, it is safer to introduce it after one year when babies are exposed to many other foods and less likely to develop allergies. Always buy tea bags from trusted stores and store them as recommended to avoid contamination. Sufficient evidence is not available to prove the efficiency of herbal teas in babies (14). Therefore, it is better to give the purest form of herbal tea to babies and ensure a safe dosage.
Infographic: How To Include Chamomile Tea In Your Baby’s Diet?
Herbal teas such as Chamomile tea are not particularly yummy, and the baby may not like having it, especially when they are older and have developed taste preferences. The infographic below suggests ways to improve this herbal tea’s acceptability in babies.
Have you tried chamomile tea for your baby? Tell us about it in the comments section.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is chamomile a common allergen?
No, chamomile isn’t a common allergen. However, it can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. A baby is more likely to be allergic to chamomile if they are allergic to related plants such as marigold, daisy, ragweed, and chrysanthemum (15).
Can I bathe my baby in chamomile tea?
Chamomile tea is often used to prepare tea-infused baths for relaxation and rejuvenation (16). However, the safety and efficacy of these tea-infused baths for babies is unclear. Thus, speak to your doctor before trying chamomile tea for your baby.
2. German Chamomile; UIC Heritage Garden
3. Chamomile; Drugs and Lactation Database; National Center For Biotechnology Information
4. Complementary, Holistic, and Integrative Medicine; American Academy of Pediatrics
5. CPMC Food Allergy Care; Sutter Health
6. Infant Colic; University of Hawaii
7. Review on Herbal Teas; Semantic Scholars
8. Home Remedies to Soothe Your Child’s Cold; Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters
9. Ghazal Sami et al.; The effects of Chamomile tea on antioxidative biomarkers in operating room staff; Semantic Scholars
10. Don’t Give Herbal Supplements to Infants; National Capital Poison Center
11. J Subiza et al., Anaphylactic reaction after the ingestion of chamomile tea; U.S. National Library of Medicine
12. Chamomile; University of Michigan13. Consuelo FernBndez et al.; Analysis of cross-reactivity between sunflower pollen and other pollens of the compositae family; Journal of Allergy And Clinical Immunology
13. Consuelo FernBndez et al.; Analysis of cross-reactivity between sunflower pollen and other pollens of the compositae family; Journal of Allergy And Clinical Immunology
14. P L B J Lucassen et al.; Effectiveness of treatments for infantile colic: systematic review; National Center For Biotechnology Information (1998)
15. Chamomile; NCCIH
16. Give the gift of self-care: 4 DIY bath tea recipes; NSt. Luke’s Health