Tea For Children
Is Tea Safe For My Little One? -In short, yes!
Is Tea Safe For My Little One?
Some teas are actually safe for toddlers and kids to enjoy and there are a few options out there. However, it’s also important to understand that there are 2 types of teas. The 1st type is made up of “true” teas (green tea, black, white, oolong, pu-erh, yellow) and these all contain caffeine. They all come from the same plant which is naturally caffeinated.
Then, we have the 2nd group: Herbal Teas. These teas are made up of plant materials (like leaves, stems, flowers, and roots) and there is NO caffeine. Since herbal tea is made from natural ingredients and doesn’t contain sugar or caffeine, it is safe for children to drink.
What Does Science Say?
Although there are multiple studies on the effects of tea on adults and animals, there really aren’t that many for kids. One consistent notion though is that caffeine is not recommended for children under 12. According to the European Food Safety Authority, “For children and adolescents, the information available is insufficient to base a safe level of caffeine intake” (8).
The US does not have caffeine guidelines for kids at this time but thankfully, Canada has put together their recommendations.
Caffeine can be a bit hard to stay away from since it can be found in sodas, juices, and other sugary drinks, but according to Healthy Canadians, caffeine should be okay in moderation. While healthy adults are able to intake about 400 mg of caffeine a day, kiddos have a much lower threshold:
- Children 4-6 should not exceed 45 mg of caffeine a day
- Children 7-9 should not exceed 62 mg of caffeine a day
- Children 10-12 should not exceed 85 mg of caffeine a day (3)
As we know, caffeine helps us stay awake, alert, and focused but when overdone, it can make us jittery and anxious. Caffeine withdrawals can cause headaches, increase your blood pressure, and make you feel sick (1). For all these reasons, it’s best for children to stray from caffeinated teas.
Types of Non-Caffeinated Herbal Teas:
Tea in moderation can be advantageous to both children and adults and each tea provides its own set of health benefits. Herbal tea usually can be found in tea bags or loose-leaf form. Many come mixed with 2 or more different types of herbs though, so if your child has any allergies, make sure to look through the list of herbs.
Although the following teas are generally safe for all kids, if your child has any existing conditions or is taking medication, it’s a good idea to check with your pediatrician to make sure it is safe for your child.
If your child doesn’t like a certain tea, move on and try a different one. You’re bound to run into one they enjoy. Try not to add too much sugar to their tea as it can be bad for teeth and health. Some lemon or honey is fine, but NEVER give honey to a child under 1 year old because of the risk of botulism.
Chamomile is perfect for bedtime as it is best known for its calming and relaxing properties. This sweet beverage helps with insomnia, anxiety, and upset tummies (5) and contains absolutely no caffeine. A study done with infants (2-8 weeks old) found that chamomile tea helped eliminate colic in over half of them (4). Another study with kids (from ½ a year old to 5 years) found that this tea was helpful in shortening the span of diarrhea (4).
Chamomile tea has multiple healing elements and is all-natural. Most kids love the sweet flavor and enjoy the warmth it provides. They’re sure to get plenty of restful sleep after drinking this tea. Keep in mind, children who are allergic to ragweed or chrysanthemums may also have allergies with chamomile as they are close in family (6).
Reminiscent to a candy cane, this minty, refreshing tea is one your child is sure to love. Peppermint tea helps to soothe an upset tummy and can help with colic. It’s also very effective at alleviating nausea and irritable bowel symptoms thanks to the menthol. According to Dr. Lisa Watson, a naturopathic doctor, this tea can act as a mild cough suppressant and is great for your child at night to help them quiet the cough and get some sleep (7).
Peppermint tea is fun for kids to sip on, either hot or iced. It does not contain caffeine and can be enjoyed at any time of the day.
Ginger tea is one of those teas that your child will either love or hate. The spicy taste can be a little overwhelming for some children but it also contains great health benefits. Ginger is known for helping alleviate stomach problems and nausea. This tea helps with digestion, vomiting, and motion sickness (6) and according to Dr. Watson, it’s effective in hydrating your child while sick (7).
For kids that aren’t crazy about this tea, Ginger Ale soda can do the trick. There’s not as much fresh ginger in the soda, but something is better than nothing. Ginger tea is best for sick days, but if your child enjoys it, there are no negative effects as long as they have it in moderation (5)
Fennel tea is best known for helping with digestion, gas, and bloating. The taste is on the bitter side and comes close to having a black licorice flavor but some kids like this tea and think of it as being sweet. Fennel tea is also useful with nausea and vomiting and should be given in small sips at a time for them to keep it down (2). When giving to babies, half a tsp to 1 tsp for 3 times a day should do the trick. Another option is to drop the teaspoon directly into their bottle with breastmilk or water or even to drink it yourself.
Fun Tea for Children
The teas listed above are all great in helping your little ones feel better and get better sleep but there are also other sugar and caffeine-free teas that are pure fun for them to drink. Children already love chamomile and peppermint but they may also enjoy fruity and floral teas. Some flavors you’ll come across are strawberry, peach, mango, coconut, blood orange, lemon, rose, and hibiscus.
There are so many flavors and infusions to choose from and they’re great either hot or iced.
Having a little tea party if you’ve never had one could be lots of fun! Try choosing a tea with your kiddos and enjoy the time while you all indulge in flavorful and healthy beverages.
Herbal tea should be brewed with boiling water but allow it to cool down before giving to your child. Some kids even prefer their tea chilled, so experiment a little until you find what works for you.
Boil water and pour over your tea bag or loose-leaf infuser for 2-4 minutes.
Sometimes teas can be too strong for kids. You can make the tea lighter by steeping the tea for less time, using fewer tea leaves, or diluting the tea with more water.
Tea can be beneficial to children when given in moderation, but keep in mind that the research on how tea affects children is limited. Despite this, parents and naturopathic doctors value natural teas for their abilities to help babies and children. Kids can have up to 2-3 cups a day without adverse effects and you’d be surprised at just how much they end up liking it.