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Is Apple Cider Vinegar Safe For Babies?

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Apple cider vinegar or ACV is a type of vinegar made from fermented apple juice. It is considered to have many health benefits attributed to the acetic acid, enzymes, micronutrients, and bioactive compounds present in it.

In the last few decades, the use of apple cider vinegar has attained widespread popularity.

The humble apple cider vinegar now enjoys a spot of significance in the field of health and nutrition. But does that mean that ACV can be considered beneficial for babies as well?

In this MomJunction post, we tell you about apple cider vinegar for babies, its health benefits, possible risks, and safe ways to use it for a baby.

Apple Cider Vinegar And Its Types

ACV is available in two major types – filtered and unfiltered, also referred to as organic ACV (1). The unfiltered ACV contains a mixture of yeast and acetobacter bacteria (2). The yeast and bacteria combination is called “mother,” and unfiltered ACV containers often mention the presence of it. Unfiltered ACV is not pasteurized, thus there is a significant population of live bacteria and yeast, which might not be suitable for all babies.

Filtered ACV removes the “mother” and is often pasteurized. This type of ACV has a minimal quantity of live yeast and bacteria, but it might also lack the several nutrients present in unfiltered ACV.

Is Apple Cider Vinegar Safe For Babies?

Apple cider vinegar is generally considered safe for use in babies when you observe the following guidelines.

1. Choose filtered and pasteurized ACV over the unfiltered one. Organic or unfiltered ACV could contain mold and different strains of yeast (a type of fungus) and bacteria. A baby’s immune system might not be adept at handling several strains of fungi and bacteria.

2. Diluted filtered ACV may be considered for both topical use and dietary consumption. You can also add ACV to baby food recipes to dilute it. An undiluted form of ACV may cause a burning sensation as ACV has a 5% acidity level (3). The general rule of dilution is to dilute two tablespoons (30ml) of ACV with 8oz (237ml) of water (4). You can begin with half or one tablespoon of ACV initially, and then increase it up to two tablespoons.

When Can You Introduce Apple Cider Vinegar To Babies?

Apple cider vinegar could be introduced to babies once they are at least six months old. Since ACV is not a standard food item, it is best to consult a pediatrician before introducing it to a baby.

Health Benefits Of ACV For Babies

In general, ACV contains acetic acid, pectin, multivitamins such as vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, biotin, and vitamin C. It is also believed to have several bioactive compounds such as polyphenols that possess antioxidant activities. These nutritional elements are likely to result in the following benefits.

1. Provide immunity: The use of apple cider vinegar to boost immunity has been recommended due to its antimicrobial properties that are attributed to acetic acid (5). Recent investigations demonstrate the antimicrobial properties of vinegar, mainly in the context of food preparations (6).

2. Subdue acid reflux: Apple cider vinegar is often used as a home remedy for acid reflux in babies. However, its efficacy is not documented (7). You may use it by including it in foods rather than giving it as a home remedy or a supplement.

3. Pain relief: Research suggests that apple cider vinegar could help reduce inflammation, especially those caused in the joints. Oral consumption could help provide relief from congenital joint problems (8). However, a few other research studies do not support its pain-relieving effect, especially via the external application (9).

4. Relief from eczema: Some studies have shown that topical application of apple cider vinegar can possibly aid in treating eczema. Babies with eczema have elevated pH levels that disturb the skin barrier. The acidic nature of ACV can help restore the pH balance of the skin (10). However, you need to consult a dermatologist before trying such home remedies.

5. Enhances mood: Anecdotal evidence states that the use of apple cider vinegar with honey can potentially enhance the mood, including those of fussy babies. This remedy is common in complementary medicine (11). Consult a doctor before using ACV orally.

6. Fights candida infection: Recent research studies and clinical trials have shown the potential antifungal effects of apple cider vinegar (12).

7. Cures dandruff: Traditional medicine has documented the effective use of apple cider vinegar in treating dandruff.  It can help tackle the excess bacteria and yeast-like fungus that often cause recurring dandruff (13). If you notice dandruff on your baby’s scalp, then consult a pediatrician or dermatologist before using ACV.

8. Helps treat cold and cough: The use of cider vinegar in treating colds and coughs has been well-documented in traditional medicine. However, there are few scientific studies to prove the claim.

It is important to know that most of the benefits associated with ACV are anecdotal. Thus, more research is warranted to make any specific recommendation, especially for babies.

Possible Side-Effects Of Apple Cider Vinegar For Babies

Below are some possible side-effects of ACV, especially if used undiluted (14) (15).

1. Tooth decay: Undiluted cider vinegar can possibly dilute the tooth enamel and damage the teeth.

2. Mouth and throat burn: Oral consumption of undiluted cider vinegar can burn the mouth and throat, thus leading to sores.

3. Skin burn: Undiluted cider vinegar can burn the skin if applied externally. Thus, use ACV for external applications only after diluting it well.

4. Aggravated acid reflux: Excess consumption of diluted apple cider vinegar can cause aggravation of the symptoms. It can also lead to an upset stomach.

5. Possible drug interaction: Apple cider vinegar could have interactions with medicines such as laxatives, diuretics, and medicines for diabetes and heart disease. If your baby is on certain medication, then introduce ACV only after consulting a doctor.

6. Allergy: Apple cider vinegar allergy is rare. However, it is possible, especially when you use an unpasteurized variety. We strongly advise you against using unpasteurized ACV. Oral allergy syndrome or pollen food syndrome is likely to happen if your baby is allergic to apples (16). Cross-reactivity is also a possibility if your baby is allergic to birch pollen, strawberry, peach, plum, cherry, and apricot (17).

Most side effects of ACV are associated with the undiluted form or with the unpasteurized version of the vinegar. Observing some good practices can help introduce ACV to a baby.

Tips To Introduce Apple Cider Vinegar To Babies

Keep the following tips in mind while introducing apple cider vinegar to infants.

  1. Never give undiluted cider vinegar to babies. Always dilute it before use.
  2. For therapeutic purposes, not more than 1-2 tablespoons per day is required.
  3. The best way to give ACV to your baby is to add it to some food items. For example, add a teaspoon of diluted cider vinegar to soups and vegetable purees. It will give some tangy flavor to the recipe as well.

Apple cider vinegar is a health-promoting ingredient, but not an elixir as often portrayed. Its beneficial properties are still under research. You may use apple cider vinegar as a food ingredient to enhance the flavor and overall nutritive value of your baby’s meals. Topical and dietary use should always be in diluted form and only after consultation with a pediatrician.

Have you tried apple cider vinegar for your baby? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below.

References:

1. Aleksandra Stornik et al., Comparison of Cultivable Acetic Acid Bacterial Microbiota in Organic and Conventional Apple Cider Vinegar; National Center For Biotechnology Information
2. Debunking the health benefits of apple cider vinegar; Uchicago Medicine
3. Carol S. Johnston and Cindy A. Gaas; Vinegar: Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect; National Center For Biotechnology Information
4. What Does Apple Cider Vinegar Not Do?; Pacific College of Health and Science
5. Thomas Bjarnsholt et al., Antibiofilm Properties of Acetic Acid; National Center For Biotechnology Information
6. Darshna Yagnik et al., Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression; National Center For Biotechnology Information
7. Apple cider vinegar… for heartburn?; Harvard Medical School
8. Singh Akanksha and Sunita Mishra; Study About The Nutritional And Medicinal Properties of Apple Cider Vinegar Article Info Abstract; Researchgate
9. M.S.Christine M.Ross; The effect of apple cider vinegar on adjuvant arthritic rats; Science Direct
10. Get the Facts: Apple Cider Vinegar; National Eczema Association
11. Naseem Akhtar Qureshi and Abdullah Mohammed Al-Bedah, Mood disorders and complementary and alternative medicine: a literature review; National Center For Biotechnology Information
12. Mota AC et al., Antifungal Activity of Apple Cider Vinegar on Candida Species Involved in Denture Stomatitis.; National Center For Biotechnology Information
13. Kalaivani Natarajan and Lakshmi T, Traditional vs Conventional Methods for the Management of Dandruff; International Journal of Science and Research
14. Does apple cider vinegar have any proven health benefits?; Harvard Health Publishing
15. Beyond the Hype: Apple Cider Vinegar as an Alternative Therapy; The Whole You; University of Washington
16. Oral Allergy And Apple Cider; American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
17. Allergy information for: Apple (Malus domestica); The University of Manchester

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