Fennel Seeds For Babies: Benefits, Precautions And Recipes

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Fennel seeds come from the fennel plant (Foeniculum vulgare), an aromatic herb from the same botanical family as carrots. Fennel seeds for babies could be beneficial in promoting digestion, fighting infections, and improving overall health.

Fennel seeds are known for their culinary and therapeutic benefits. The seeds have been used to treat various illnesses affecting the reproductive, digestive, and respiratory systems for ages.

This post discusses the safety and potential health benefits of fennel seeds for babies. We also provide recipes to prepare dishes with fennel seeds for the baby.

When Can Babies Consume Fennel Seeds?

There is no specific age for the introduction of fennel seeds. Vegetables related to fennel, such as carrots, can be introduced at the age of six months (1). You may introduce fennel seeds as a flavoring substance to six-month-olds, who consume various other solids.

You may give a teaspoon or two of fennel water to babies. It will help the infant adjust to fennel’s taste and digestibility. Gradually, add fennel powder to different recipes, such as porridge, cereals, soups, and stews. Fennel powder enhances a meal’s flavor.

You may also occasionally feed fennel tea to babies. Young babies can consume a tablespoon of fennel tea after or before meals. Older babies and toddlers may be able to consume half a cup of fennel tea spread across multiple servings in a day. Giving fennel to babies is safe as long as the quantity is controlled. Consult a pediatrician to know the quantity of fennel tea you can give to your baby.

Nutritional Value Of Fennel Seeds

Besides adding flavor and aroma to a meal, fennel seeds can also offer extensive nutrients such as vitamins A, C, B6, niacin ,riboflavin, thiamine, zinc, sodium, phosphorous, proteins, and phytochemicals. One teaspoon (2g) of whole fennel seeds can provide the following nutrients to your infant (2) (3).

Fiber, total dietary0.796g
Calcium, Ca23.9mg270mg
Iron, Fe0.371mg10mg
Magnesium, Mg7.7mg60mg
Potassium, K33.9mg700mg

Sources: U.S. Department of Agriculture and World Health Organization

Possible Uses Of Fennel Seeds For Babies

Fennel seeds contain bioactive compounds, which may offer some long-term health benefits (4). Below are some notable benefits of fennel seeds for babies.

  1. Support digestion: Fennel seed water, tea, and essential oil can enhance gastric motility, improve digestion, and promote a healthy appetite (5) (6). Consumption of fennel water or tea is used as a herbal remedy for treating indigestion, bloating, farting, and gastric distension in babies. Effects are instantaneous and quite effective.
  1. Help fight constipation: Fennel seeds are known for treating constipation by enhancing gastric motility (4) (7). Fennel seed water and tea are common remedies for relieving constipation in traditional and alternative medicine.
  1. Relieve colic symptoms: Fennel seed oil emulsion has shown effectiveness in reducing the symptoms of infantile colic (8) (9). However, fennel oil may contain some compounds, such as estragole, inappropriate for a baby’s health (10). Consult a doctor before serving fennel oil to a baby. In such a case fennel water can be quite effective in reducing the painful cramps in the baby.
  1. Might relieve cough: Warm fennel water and tea are used as home remedies to manage symptoms of respiratory ailments, such as cough and bronchitis. Anethole and fenchone are compounds with expectorant properties found in fennel oil (5) (6).
  1. Overall health: Studies have noted that fennel seeds have antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and hepatoprotective effects that can benefit health in long run (10) (11) (12).

Consult a pediatrician before using fennel seeds for any therapeutic or medicinal purposes.

Precautions To Take When Feeding Fennel Seeds To Babies

Here are some tips to follow while feeding fennel to babies and toddlers.

  • Buy organic fennel seeds and fennel powder from a reputed store.
  • If the baby shows sensitivity or intolerance after ingesting fennel in any form, discontinue feeding it.
  • Fennel seed allergy is rare but possible. The allergy symptoms include hives, swelling of the mouth, itching, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. These symptoms may appear immediately after ingesting or touching fennel. Hence start with a small quantity and wait for a couple of days to check any signs of allergies.
  • If the baby has a family history of allergies to certain pollens and foods (parsley, carrot, celery, parsnip, etc.) belonging to the Apiaceae family (13), consult a doctor before introducing fennel.
  • Fennel seed can interact with several medicines, such as antibiotics (14). Consult a pediatrician about fennel seed use if your baby is on any medications.
  • While preparing fennel water or tea, take precaution to boil on a low flame and gradually to avoid evaporation of antioxidants.

Fennel Seed Recipes For Babies

Here are some easy-to-consume fennel seed recipes for babies and toddlers.

1. Fennel water

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 1 cup clean drinking water
  • 1tsp fennel seeds

How to:

  1. Soak a teaspoon of fennel seeds in a cup of water overnight.
  2. The next day, filter the water into a bowl and feed the baby a teaspoon or as directed by your pediatrician. Do not serve more than a tablespoon a day to younger babies.

2. Fennel tea

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1tsp fennel seeds (crushed)

How to:

  1. Boil water into a saucepan over medium heat and add fennel seeds.
  2. Switch off the flame and cover the pan. Let the seeds steep in the water for 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Strain the tea into a cup, let it cool, and feed it to your baby.

For toddlers, you can serve fennel seed powder by adding it to milk and other dairy products, such as yogurt.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does fennel make babies sleepy?

Fennel is often used in folk medicine as a remedy for insomnia (4). While adults may experience fennel’s therapeutic effects, there is no research on its effects on babies. Consult a doctor before giving the baby any fennel-containing tonic for sleep.

2. How often can I give my baby fennel tea?

According to the European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy (ESCOP), 1-2 g of fennel seeds can be grounded and given to babies as fennel tea at divided doses 2-3 times a day (15). However, this dosage may vary as per the baby’s age, and you must get a pediatrician’s opinion first.

Fennel seeds for babies may be used as a flavoring agent once they start eating solids. This aromatic and flavorful spice contains several nutrients and beneficial phytochemicals. It is also considered effective in improving digestion and treating constipation. It is better to start with small quantities of fennel water before adding fennel tea or powdered fennel seeds to their diet. Use the crushed and powdered form, as whole seeds may be a choking hazard. Look out for signs of intolerance or allergic reactions and discontinue use if you observe any.

Key Pointers

  • Babies eating various solid foods can consume fennel seeds as a flavoring agent in different forms.
  • Fennel seeds offer several nutrients and bioactive compounds to help alleviate colic symptoms and promote digestion in babies.
  • Follow necessary precautions while purchasing and feeding fennels seeds for the baby’s safety.


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Swati Patwal

Swati Patwal is a clinical nutritionist, a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) and a toddler mom with over eight years of experience in diverse fields of nutrition. She started her career as a CSR project coordinator for a healthy eating and active lifestyle project catering to school children. Then she worked as a nutrition faculty and clinical nutrition coach in different... more

Seeemaa Budhraja

Seeemaa Budhraja is a Delhi-based dietitian and nutritionist. She specializes in weight and lifestyle management. She is a healthy recipe designer, works as a health motivator and wellness coach as well. She has worked as a slimming head with one of the top organizations in India. She excels in therapeutic diets for various lifestyle-related diseases. This renowned nutritionist is a... more