All About Tea for Tots
As the weather gets cooler, I find myself pouring more and more cups of warm tea—for myself and my kids, too.
That’s right! My kids drink tea. Non-caffeinated, of course. But still: I’ve gotten so many strange looks about serving my kids tea that I finally had to look into it. It’s a perfect warm toddler treat, and, frankly, a no-sugar alternative to juice, so what’s the problem?
There is none! Though many parents have concerns about serving tea – the most widely consumed drink in the world other than water – most medical experts say that the right teas can be safe for babies as young as 12 months old. In fact, some teas are considered safe starting at 6 months. Some doctors might recommend a little unsweetened chamomile to ease the discomfort of a sore throat, but it seems advisable to hold off on serving tea regularly until your child is at least 1 year old.
Why is tea good for your toddler?
Because tea is not bad for your toddler! Don’t be scared–the right tea selection is a great alternative to juice. With milk and water being the primary healthy drink options available to older babies and toddlers, tea provides a flavorful drink variety while avoiding over-sweetened juices and juice drinks. And, as with adults, tea can have soothing effects, helping with digestion, aiding with sleep, and calming cold symptoms.
Choosing teas for toddlers
Teas to avoid:
- Jokes about hyperactivity aside, toddlers should only drink decaffeinated teas (plain green tea contains caffeine; always check the label!)
- Be aware that green and black tea contains high amounts of fluoride; black teas can also interfere with digestion.
- Echinacea is a mild oxidant not recommended for every day use, but rather for short boosts to the immune system.
- Comfrey tea can cause liver damage.
- St. John’s wort should not be used unless under recommendation of an experienced health practitioner.
- Senna tea might be recommended for constipation in children, but should only be given with a doctor’s guidance.
Teas (and herbal infusions) that are safe toddlers:
- Lemon balm
- Chamomile (there is disagreement, but some believe that children with ragweed allergies may have a reaction to chamomile)
- Red teas with rosehips and hibiscus
- Rooibos and spiced rooibos (like chai)
- Fruit teas
No need to get fancy to have a tea party with your toddler (and his imaginary friends!) Just a small amount cooled down with your natural sweetener of choice does the trick. Throwing in a piece of ginger, 1 or 2 cloves, a cinnamon stick, or some fresh mint while the tea bag steeps never hurts.
Always check wit h your pediatrician when trying something new with your little one, especially if it’s a food or ingredient that you don’t know well or have questions about. Don’t think tea is off limits, though. The right choice can be a great addition to your little one’s healthy diet.