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Best Herbs for Babies and Children: How and When to Use Them

Herbs can help decongest a stuffy nose, gently lower a high fever, calm an over tired baby, soothe irritated skin, help colic, digestive issues and more. Learn the best herbs for babies and kids. Plus, how and when to use them for the most common childhood ailments.

Best Herbs for Babies and Children


I’ve supported, strengthened and balanced my body for 2 decades using herbs as a natural medicine. Now that I’m a mom, I’m so thankful that I have the knowledge and experience to support my son’s natural defense mechanisms using medicinal herbs, too!


Don’t get me wrong, I have a tremendous respect for doctors and the incredible work they can do for emergencies. But I love being able to support the body and prevent (or shorten) sickness naturally using the medicine that God provided for us right here in nature through herbs!


Herbs are a gentle, yet very effective healing medicine that support the body’s innate ability to heal itself. And they shouldn’t be underestimated…..they work absolutely beautifully! My husband and I have not had a cold or the flu in going on 14 years. And Sam is following suit. He’s three and has never been sick – not even a cough, sniffle or rash and he’s been exposed to numerous things and is around sick kids fairly often! 


There’s a ton of different herbs out there and an abundance of information, so I wanted to condense things a bit and tell you the very best herbs for babies and kids that I’ve found to work especially well for the most common baby and childhood ailments. These top 5 medicinal herbs are even safe and gentle enough to use with infants. 


Keep these 5 medicinal herbs in your cabinet and you’ll be set to boost and strengthen the body and help prevent or shorten many illnesses that are most common to babies and children. *I’m a herbalist, not a doctor,  and this is in no way a replacement for medical advice.*


Best Herbs for babies and kids and how and when to use them


How to Use herbs for babies and children

Although there are many ways to use herbs, my favorite and the easiest way to use medicinal herbs for babies and kids are through herbal baths.


Let’s be honest, the taste of medicinal herbs is often not the best. That’s why herbal baths are so great! Kids generally love water and taking a herbal bath is both fun and very effective. The skin is our largest organ and absorbs all the wonderful, beneficial and healing properties of the herbs.  In fact, several prominent herbal healers administer most of their medicinal herbal formulas via a bath. 


How to Make an Herbal Bath

Steep 1/4 cup dried herbs (or 1/2 cup fresh herbs) in 1/2 gallon of very hot water for 30-45 minutes, covered. Strain and pour the liquid into the bath water. Soak for as long as the child is comfortable, preferably at least 10-15 minutes. When the child is sick, taking a medicinal herb bath every few hours will produce the best results.


Best Herbs for babies and kids 

1. Chamomile

Chamomile is by far my favorite herb for babies, toddlers and children. It’s the one I recommend if you had to pick only one herb to have on hand. I like to say, when in doubt, use chamomile. It’s a healing wonder!

That’s because chamomile is gentle and effective for a large variety of issues. Chamomile is most well known for it’s calming properties, but it can be a big help in many childhood issues, too:

  • calming
  • sedative
  • relaxes the nervous system
  • digestive aid
  • tummy soothing
  • anxiety relieving
  • colic
  • diarrhea
  • indigestion
  • acid reflux
  • infections
  • wound healing
  • immune boosting
  • skin irritations

Sam has a lot of energy and for now, his system needs some support to calm down for sleeping. Chamomile baths have been a life saver for us! He sleeps so soundly and falls asleep within minutes after his chamomile bath. When he was a newborn and had gas pain, I’d bathe him in a chamomile bath and it worked wonders!

Use a chamomile bath when: your child needs to calm down, needs help sleeping, has anxiety, stomach upsets, digestive issues, colic, has skin irritations, wounds or as a general immune booster


Chamomile is the best herb for babies and kids


2. Calendula

Calendula is my go to herb for anything and everything skin related. Have dry, itchy skin? Eczema? Inflamed, red skin? Bug bites, wounds or other skin irritations? Use calendula! It’s also anti-fungal and extremely soothing and healing to diaper rashes, cradle cap, thrush and all skin issues. 

Use a calendula bath when: any skin issues arise, for diaper rash, cradle cap or thrush


Best Herbs for babies and kids. How and When to use them. Great information!


3. Thyme

Thyme is my #1 must-have herb during cold and flu season. It’s antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal  and an expectorant. Thyme helps prevent infections and does a tremendous job fighting infections if one has already taken hold.  It works especially well for coughs. The properties in thyme help soothe inflammation along the respiratory tract and clear congestion of the nasal passageways so the baby or child can breathe easier. It also fights viral and bacterial infections in the respiratory tract.

Whenever we’ve been around large crowds or on an airplane or around anyone sick, we all take a thyme herbal bath for the following 1-2 days to ward off any sickness. It works extremely well!

Use a thyme bath when: when your child has been around sick people or large crowds, when they have a cold, the flu, a cough, or viral and bacterial respiratory infections


Best Herbs for babies and kids. How and When to use them. Great information!


4. Elderberry and Elderflower

Elderberries and elderflowers are also a great herb to have on hand during times of sickness, especially during the start of cold and flu season. Many people in the natural community are very familiar with elderberries to shorten the duration of a cold and flu (HERE is my favorite, kid approved elderberry gummy recipe that we take during cold/flu season for strengthening the body and preventing illness). But did you know elderflowers are just as powerful a medicine for fevers and colds? Elderflowers help relieve nasal and upper respiratory congestion. They are also a gentle fever reducer. They work by inducing sweating to allow the fever to break naturally and gently. Both are also an excellent immune booster and contain important antiviral properties. 

Side note: Fevers are a wonderful protective design to rid the body of infection. They shouldn’t be feared unless it’s a very high fever or a fever that lasts for several days.  Elder flowers work with the immune system and don’t suppress it like acetaminophen and other pharmaceutical fever lowering medications. 

Use an elderberry and elderflower bath when: you have a cold or the flu, when you need relief from a fever, during cold, flu and seasonal allergy season to strengthen the immune system and boost the body


Best Herbs for babies and how to use them



5. Lavender

Lavender is calming and extremely soothing to the nervous system. Like chamomile, it’s a great herb choice for a variety of issues. It’s an analgesic (reduces pain), has anti-anxiety properties, is anti-bacterial, anticatarrhal (reduces excess mucous and phlegm), an anti-depressant, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and promotes healing to wounds. 

Because lavender is so effective for a variety of issues, I typically mix a few tablespoons of dried lavender into the majority of my medicinal herbal baths. Not only does it promote rest and healing, but lavender smells divine!

Use a lavender bath when: your child needs to be calmed, for anxiety, sleep, wounds and general pain. 


Best herbs for babies and kids and how to use them


Essential oils versus herbs for babies and toddlers

Although natural, essential oils are extremely powerful, highly concentrated and need to be respected. I do not use them on or around babies and children under 2 and strongly recommend using herbs in place of essential oils for babies and toddlers.


Children’s bodies are very sensitive and interestingly, I’ve found children respond better and more quickly to the gentle nature of herbs. Herbs are far more gentle and are better suited to the more sensitive constitution of children. Essential oils can overwhelm their delicate systems. They contain highly concentrated extracts of particular plant constituents – not the whole plant – that are far beyond the normal concentrations found in nature. I’m not against essential oils – I love them and use them. But for babies and toddlers, I definitely prefer and strongly recommend using herbs in place of essential oils. 


For children over 2 years old, THIS is a wonderful line of kid-safe essential oils formulated by world renowned essential oil safety expert, Robert Tisserand. They are made especially for kids ages 2-10 and I can confidently and safely recommend them. 


Best Herbs for babies and kids and how and when to use them


Where to buy medicinal herbs

Even though you can purchase quality herbs online, I suggest trying to grow them yourself! If you want to purchase quality, organic, dried herbs online, HERE is the brand I recommend.

Here are the specific links of what I recommend , if interested:

Chamomile – Find HERE

Calendula – Find HERE

Thyme – Find HERE

Elderflower – Find HERE

Elderberries – Find HERE

Lavender – Find HERE


Best Herbs for babies and kids & how to use them


Grow your own medicinal herbs

Growing these 5 herbs is very simple and by far the most cost effective…and fun…way to use them. Even if you don’t have a lot of yard space, these 5 herbs are among the easiest (I promise!) to grow in pots on a porch or sunny windowsill. Calendula is my all-time favorite to grow outdoors – a 99 cent seed packet at the garden store will get you an abundance of gorgeous orange and yellow flowers from spring until frost and they usually reseed themselves so you’ll get to enjoy them year after year!


Do you have a favorite herb? Or have a success story using herbal medicine? I’d love to hear it! 

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  1. Avatar

    I’m a first time mom and this is really helpful. I ordered the chamomile you recommended and gave my 1 year old a chamomile bath last night and she slept the whole night through for the first time ever and woke up so happy!!!! It seems like her diaper rash really improved, too. Do you think chamomile helped that, too? I’m excited to order the rest of the herbs to have on hand. Thank you!

    • Kelly from Primally Inspired

      Wow, that is awesome, Rebecca! Chamomile is truly incredible…and so is sleep 🙂 And yes, chamomile would help the diaper rash, too…it calms down skin irritations. Calendula is still my top pick for diaper rash, but chamomile definitely helps, too!

  2. Avatar

    Fully agree that if you have to pick only one herb to have on hand then it would be chamomile – I use it for so many different purposes and it works magic!

  3. Avatar

    Thank you for the excellent information!

  4. Avatar

    Thank you very much for the great information!
    My son got sick a lot from Daycare last year and we’ll definitely try these herbs bath this year!
    I know Sam has never been sick, but do you have any secret natural remedies to get rid of a cold fast in a child? Thank you.

    • Kelly from Primally Inspired

      Toshi, the thyme bath really works wonderfully and quickly for colds. I would do thyme baths at least twice a day or more when sickness strikes. Also, Hylands makes a few amazing homeopathic cold remedies for babies/kids that I would do in addition with the thyme baths. You can even find them at your local pharmacy….CVS, Rite Aid, Target, Wal-Mart, etc carries them! Here’s the ones I really like:
      Baby Tiny Cold Tablets: https://amzn.to/2QtEemS
      This one is great for at night: https://amzn.to/2zUIPZN

      I have my nieces on this regimen when they get sick and my sis-in-law says it’s made a big difference in how quickly they get over their sickness…I hope it can help your guy, too 🙂

      • Avatar

        Hi Kelly, thank you so much for your quick and thorough reply! I have ordered Thyme & Chamomile herb and these homeopathic tablets!
        I feel like I’m so ready for this coming flu/cold season!

  5. Avatar

    Hi Kelly this is wonderful information specially for first time moms like me… my LO has been with a “common cold” for almost a month, her pediatrician has only suggested saline drops and vaporizer at night but her cough and cold does not improve, I will try now the Thyme bath as you suggested, but can you explain a little more how to bathe them with that water? would it be just like a regular bath? (soaking their heads too?) is it ok if the water falls on their little eyes? would I use her soap as well? do I rinse her off after I use the Thyme water? thanks again for all the info!!

    • Kelly from Primally Inspired

      Hi Andrea! You give the thyme bath just like you would a regular bath, soaking head and all. It’s perfectly safe and fine (and can even be beneficial!) if water gets on the face and eyes and great if she drinks some, too 🙂 There’s no need to rinse again after the thyme bath. I personally do all the washing at the very end. Hope that helps and I trust it will help support your little one to finally kick her cold! Take care!

  6. Avatar

    hi love the article thank you so much for the information I have a 5 month old what would you recommend how much of the herbs into my baby spa for chamomile or lavender

  7. Avatar

    Thank you so much for the information. I learnt a lot. Keep up the good job.

  8. Avatar

    Are thyme baths safe for 4 month olds?

  9. Avatar

    What herb is good for aiding in digestion and helping with reflux?

    • Kelly from Primally Inspired

      Hi Jess,

      A warm chamomile bath is very helpful for digestion and reflux.

      The most helpful herbs that are baby and child safe for digestion and reflux are chamomile, slippery elm, fennel, anise, dill and catnip. One of my favorite popular herbalists, Rosemary Gladstar recommends grinding any of those or a combination of those into a powder and adding a pinch to their food. Or making a tea (1 cup hot water to 1 tablespoon herbs, steep, covered for 30 minutes and then strain) and give the baby/child teaspoon dosages every few minutes until the pain eases. It can also work very well as a preventative if given in small doses before feeding time. Hope that helps!

      • Avatar

        Excellent. Sorry just another question, my nearly 3y old suffers from vulvuvaginitis off and on, worse now that we have toilet trained, which herbs for a bath are best?

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