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Herbs for Kids

JOURNAL

Herbs for Kids

Herbs for Kids

Herbs can be a valuable resource to use with our kids as their bodies move through infancy and childhood. Plants have been used medicinally by humans for thousands of years and today can be used to complement the care provided by our pediatric doctors and also to fill in the gaps that allopathic medicine doesn't always fill. Yet, as parents, it can be hard to know the answers to questions on dosage, safety, and effectiveness. How can we coax our children into taking medicine without a fuss? Which herbs are safe and beneficial for their delicate systems? And how do we ensure we're administering the right amount for their age and weight?

In this exploration of herbal remedies for children, we look both to the wisdom of tradition and the insights of modern science. From soothing teas to homemade gummies infused with herbal goodness, herbs offer us gentle yet potent ways to support our children's well-being. To start, let's address the fundamental question: how do we navigate the realm of herbal medicine for our little ones?

 

How to Get Kids to Take Medicine: Herbal Preparations for Kids

When it comes to administering medicine to children, the form matters as much as the content. Liquids are always going to be a better bet for kids than pills or powders, offering an easier route for tiny throats (and picky palates) to swallow. Tea is often the gentlest herbal preparation to give to kids but syrups and tinctures can also work really well. Within this realm of teas, syrups, and tinctures lies infinite possibilities. Some whole herbs or tinctures can be incorporated into broths, smoothies, or other familiar foods. You can make homemade gummies, or jellies, and add a tincture or tea in the liquid phase - see our gummy recipe here

But what about concerns over alcohol-based tinctures? Tinctures, when used judiciously, can be a safe and effective herbal preparation for kids. Essentially, even if a tincture has a higher proof, the quantity of alcohol in a dose is negligible. The common addage is that a ripe banana supposedly has about the same amount of alcohol as an adult dose of tincture. A serving of bread or fruit juice also has more alcohol content than a dose of tincture. We do ALWAYS suggest diluting alcohol-based tinctures in a little water or tea for kids, for flavor and because the alcohol can be harsh on the mucosa in the mouth. For those seeking an even gentler approach, you can add the tincture to hot tea and let it cool before giving it to your kid, evaporating off some of the alcohol. 

Selecting Safe Herbs for Kids

From calming chamomile to immune-boosting elderberry, we have a roster of gentle yet powerful herbs renowned for their documented safety and a history of traditional pediatric use. Whether it's soothing teething woes or supporting digestion and immunity, these botanical allies offer a holistic approach to nurturing our children's health. 

You will recognize the most widely used: chamomile, lemon balm, catnip, spearmint, calendula, milky oats, elderberry and echinacea are a few. Often the very first herbs given to babies under 6 months are often chamomile, lemon balm and catnip, which can be made into a tea and added to breastmilk, or administered a dropperful or two at a time.

Milky Oats

Here are a handful of herbs recommended for children:

Calming Herbs for Kids

Catnip
Chamomile
Lemon Balm
Linden
Milky Oats
Passionflower
Skullcap

Herbs for Digestion

Catnip
Chamomile
Dandelion root
Fennel
Ginger
Lemon balm
Marshmallow root
Peppermint

Immune Support for Kids 

Catnip
Chamomile
Elderberry 
Elder flower
Echinacea
Elecampane
Garlic
Lemon Balm
Marshmallow root
Shiitake mushrooms
Thyme
Turmeric

Herbs for Teething Babies

Catnip
Chamomile

Lavender*
Lemon balm

*Please note: We do not recommend using essential oils with babies or small children, as they are very potent and can in some cases be dangerous. Using whole lavender flowers is much gentler and completely safe. As always, consult a trusted healthcare provider before giving your baby or child any herbs!

You can find many of these herbs in our line - including Milky Oats Tincture, Sleep Tincture - which can actually be used as a calming formula for day or night - and our Elderberry Syrup

Navigating Herbal Dosage for Kids

Dosage demands some precision and care, especially when it comes to our little ones. Because the liver is not developed until 2 years, some caution is needed when using herbs with children and especially infants. Kids doses will always start smaller than adults and dosing is tailored to age, weight, and symptoms.

There are several different rules that are valid for determining dosage for children: Fried's Rule, Young's Rule, Augsberger's Rule, and Salisbury Rule. While none are perfect formulas, these guidelines give us general roadmaps for safe and effective herbal administration for kids.

Key Dosage Rules

   Young’s rule age/(age+12) is the FRACTION of the adult dose where age = age in years
Fried’s rule (age in months/150) is the FRACTION of the adult dose use for infants up to 24 months. Most conservative dosage rule. 
Augsberger’s rule ((1.5 x weight(kg)) + 10) is the PERCENTAGE of the adult dose
Salisbury rule

weight(kg) x 2 (if weight <30 kg) is the PERCENTAGE of the adult dose

weight(kg) + 30 (if weight >30 kg) is the PERCENTAGE of the adult


Note that Fried's rule is recommended as a starting point for babies under 2, observing effects and increasing dosage as needed - but no more than directed by the Salisbury rule. Augsberger's rule is not recommended for infants because it can result in over dosing.

Dosage Comparisons for the Different Rules

 Age
(Avg. Weight)   

Fried's
(a)

Young's
(a)
Augsberger's
(w)
Salisbury (w/bsa)
6 mo (8 kg) 4 NA 22 16
1 yr (10.5 kg) 8 8 26 21
2 yrs (12.5 kg) NA 14 29 25
4 yrs (16 kg) NA 25 34 32
7 yrs (23 kg) NA 37 45 46
10 yrs (32 kg) NA 45 58 64

Percentage of Adult Dose: Calculations are based on published average values of weight for age. a = age-based calculation, w = weight-based calculation.

You can find dosage instructions already spelled out for you on our Milky Oats Tincture, Sleep Tincture, and Elderberry Syrup for both for babies and children.

 

This article should not be taken as medical advice.  Consult your healthcare provider prior to using herbs with children. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. None of our products are intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

 

 

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