Tea for Tots

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
  • Lemongrass
  • Ginger
  • Chamomile (there is disagreement, but some believe that children with ragweed allergies may have a reaction to chamomile)
  • Mint
  • Red teas with rosehips and hibiscus
  • Honeybush
  • 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. 

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About Stacie Billis

Stacie Billis is a food writer, child-development expert and blogger at One Hungry Mama who fancies herself a cross between SuperNanny and Jamie Oliver. As a mother of two hungry boys, she knows that kids change the way we cook, but they don't have to change how well we eat. Selfish? Sure, but it turns out that feeding kids the good foods we enjoy—along with a little food parenting—is the best way to inspire healthy habits for life. Knowing this, Stacie is putting her MA in child development, experience developing an organic family food brand and passion for delicious food to good use in her kitchen and yours. You can also find Stacie as One Hungry Mama on Twitter and Facebook.

Comments

  1. Can I just ask?
    Is it not reccomended then to give my little 18 month old green tea?
    Thanks in advance
    x

  2. I am definitely going to try this with my son! I don’t want to give him sweet, empty calories that store bought juice contains. Thanks for showing me another option!

  3. My son’s 17 months and LOVES sweet tea, I’ve giving him sweet tea since about 6 months, he’s never had any problems, he asks for the tea all the time!