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.*
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
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:
- relaxes the nervous system
- digestive aid
- tummy soothing
- anxiety relieving
- acid reflux
- 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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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:
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!