Can babies and young children drink tea? Well ideally not black tea, or even green tea as they contain caffeine and this is very hard for little livers to digest. In fact, caffeine can stay in a newborn body for up to 5 days and a six month old baby's body for 7 hours, even from the mothers breast milk. No wonder so many small babies seem restless, irritable and have trouble sleeping. I prefer to stick to my favourite herbal teas which are roasted dandelion root, chamomile, rooibos and licorice. Back to the question though.. YES babies can drink herbal tea!
We started having a family cuppa together when Elijah was starting to drink some water around six months. He has been practising using an open cup and a drink bottle with a straw to help with developing his swallowing reflexes, breath control and hand eye co-ordination. He loves copying us with our glasses and mugs. Quite a bit of water or herbal tea ends up on the floor or his clothes, but that's half the fun. Plants made into tea can provide another source of nutrition for your family and yourself as many of them are antioxidant and nutrient rich - especially when made from the fresh plant.
You might like to try some of these herbal teas with your little ones, or branch out your own tea repertoire!
Rooibos - this is wonderful Southern African tea which is naturally caffeine free and low in tannins. It has a traditional use for babies with colic, skin troubles like eczema, asthma and allergies. I know some South Africans who start their babies on rooibos very young and it is considered widely safe. It is also great for iron.
Chamomile - This tea is a blessing to my belly, and I'm sure many a baby would benefit from its calming, wind releasing, soothing and settling effects. A very mild flavour too.
Linden Flowers- This special tea is an old European wonder and is ideal for settling fevers and supporting normal immune function in the early stages of infection. I have some collected and dried waiting for when we need it.
Fennel Seeds- This is as easy as steeping some fennel seeds in hot water to make a great tea for calming stomach pains and improving bowel function.
Dill - Another very traditional digestive support, this herb is even made into gripe water. You can use the fresh herb with boiling water to make the infusion.
Lavender Flowers- Although the flavour can be strong, this tea is a great addition to the night time routine to help with settling and having a peaceful night sleep.
Thyme - This herb is a wonder for chesty coughs and throat infections. Works best if you boil the fresh plant on the stove in a saucepan of hot water for 10 minutes or so combined with some sage or lemon and honey.
Choose organic and ideally Australian herbs where possible. Many herbal teas can be grown at home in pots like chamomile, peppermint, dill, lemon balm, lavender, sage and thyme. Loose tea leaves and flowers can be steeped in boiling water in a tea pot, plunger or single tea strainer. Always use filtered water to avoid the chlorine and other chemicals in tap water. The baby or child should never have the tea hotter than lukewarm or tepid. Different herbs can be mixed together for example chamomile tea with a little freshly grated ginger and some lemon or orange juice is delightful and a world of flavour to discover. No sweeteners should be used, it is important for young ones to develop the taste buds for bitter and sour. Starting early on regular herbal teas usually results in children being more able to take herbal medicines and enjoy a wide range of flavours. Herbal tea or water should not be given before six months when breast milk or formula should be the sole source of nutrition. Try incorporating some family cuppa time into your evening rhythm.