Tea for Tots

Categories: Featured, Kids

tea lime flower Tea for Tots

Lime flower tea – kids love simple, fruity flavours

Sharing the Joy of Tea with Kids

There are few topics that I like to talk about more than tea.  I love tea.  I love the flavour of tea, the diverse kinds of tea, the ritual of making tea and the warm, calm feeling that I get when I settle in with a cup of tea.  Tea is also one of my favourite ways of prescribing botanicals (plant based medicines) for adults and children alike.

While I would not recommend giving a child a cup of orange pekoe, chai or English breakfast tea (all of which contain caffeine!) there are an abundance of other kinds of tea that are perfect for children.

Preparing Tea for Kids

Making a cup of tea for a child is very similar to preparing it for an adult, with a couple of simple adjustments.

  • Children often prefer a weaker tea.  Adults should steep tea for between 4 and 6 minutes (depending on the type of tea and personal preference).  For children steep the tea for only 2 to 4 minutes.  If the tea is too strong, add extra water to dilute the strength (this is also a good way to quickly cool the tea!).
  • The temperature of tea to be served to a child should be considerably cooler.  I suggest serving children’s tea chilled, at room temperature or lukewarm (the same temperature used for baby bottles or formula – around 26-36oC).

Selecting Teas for Your Child

Selecting tea is part of the pleasure of drinking tea.  You can have tea that calms you, tea that wakes you up, tea that soothes a sore throat or an upset tummy, or tea that just tastes good.  You can select tea for your children in much the same way.

Teas for Health

chamomile loose flowers 150x150 Tea for Tots

Anxiety – studies show that more and more children are experiencing anxiety, and at younger and younger ages.  If your child has anxiety associated with school, friends, separation or for any other reason try giving them a tea to help calm their nervous system.  Teas for anxiety include chamomile, oat straw, passionflower (for children over four), and skullcap (for children over six).  Prepare a cup of tea and enjoy it together in the evening or before stressful events.

Colic – even young babies can benefit from tea!  A tea made from fennel, chamomile or peppermint can be very helpful in relieving colic in infants.  A breastfeeding mother can drink the tea (1 cup three times per day) or the tea can be diluted and given to the infant with a medicine dropper (1 diluted tsp three times per day).

Constipation – use a flaxseed tea (1 teaspoon flaxseed in 1 litre of water, simmered for 15 minutes) to cook oatmeal.  Prepare the tea and then use the tea instead of water to prepare oatmeal for your child to eat.  Or add ¼ cup of flaxseed tea to 4 ounces of juice and give it to your child once daily.  Constipation should resolve within 24-48 hours.

Coughs – depending on the type of cough there are several options for teas to soothe a coughing child.  For a cough with sore throat, marshmallow root or slippery elm tea can be very soothing.  For cough with congestion, licorice or coltsfoot tea are both effective.
(Note: Do not use for more than 3 days in a row.  Licorice should not be used in children with high blood pressure).
Peppermint tea is a mild cough suppressant and can be used in the evenings to help children with a persistent cough to get some sleep.

Fever – To decrease chills and increase perspiration (which will shorten the duration and intensity of the fever) try a tea with any of the following ingredients (in equal parts): lemon balm, chamomile, peppermint, licorice and elder flower.  For a child over 2 years of age ½ cup of tea can be given up to four times daily for one day.  Serve this tea as hot as your child can tolerate.
Note: Do not use licorice in a child with high blood pressure.  Fevers are commonly a sign that the body is fighting a viral or bacterial infection.  If your child’s temperature exceeds 102F (38.9oC) consider contacting a qualified healthcare provider for further guidance.

Nausea – ginger tea is very effective in decreasing nausea, vomiting, upset stomach and for soothing the digestive tract.  Giving your child tea when they are nauseous or vomiting also provides much needed hydration.  Use ½ cup of ginger tea, three times per day for the first 24 hours of nausea.  Ginger tea is also very effective for motion sickness.  Try giving your child ginger tea as needed during car trips to treat motion sickness.    

Teas for Taste

There are a great variety of herbal teas available that children love.  Try fruit based herbal teas as a delicious and low calorie alternative to fruit juice.  Many of the fruit based teas are delicious served cold as an iced tea.  Some of my family’s favourites are:

hibiscus flower 1 150x150 Tea for Tots

Hibiscus flowers give tea a bright pink colour kids love

  • Chocolate mint rooibos – a loose tea, naturally caffeine free and deliciously sweet.  Available at www.steepedandinfused.com.
  • Passion by Tazo tea – hibiscus flower, lemongrass, mango and passion fruit combine to make a sweet, pink-hued tea.  Fantastic as an iced tea.  Available at Starbucks stores or many grocery stores.
  • Raspberry Zinger, True Blueberry and Country Peach Passion – all by Celestial Seasonings are favourites of my 2 year old son.  Simple, sweet, fruity flavours are popular with young children and adults alike.

So go ahead and try serving tea to your child.  There is no reason why a tea party need only be pretend!   You may be surprised at how much your child enjoys the flavours and rituals of tea drinking.

Disclaimer:

The advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only.  It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed health care provider.  Consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor or other primary care provider is recommended for anyone suffering from a health problem.

Resources:

Hoffman, David.  Medical Herbalism.  2003.
Zand, Janet.  Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child 2nd Ed.  2003.

pf button big Tea for Tots

About the Author

Dr. Lisa Watson is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor (ND) practicing in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Dr. Watson advocates the use of natural therapies backed by traditional knowledge and scientific research to help her patients, family, friends and readers to achieve optimal wellness.

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Comments

  1. Mandyz Mar 22, 2010

    I’m glad to see you spreading the love of tea for kids. It’s something I often try to advocate as an alternative to juice. Our toddler’s been drinking tea since she was quite young – starting with nettle tea for iron.

    A favourite around here is raspberry rooibus. We have several wonderful tea shops in town that make their own delicious fruity blends – far more than any health or grocery store carries for variety.

  2. Kiliman Apr 17, 2010

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  3. Mark Vice Jun 12, 2010

    I love it!

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    thanks !! very helpful post

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  9. Ethel Iamiceli Nov 3, 2010

    Wonderful post, thanks for the great read.

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  13. Crayola Dec 4, 2010

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  14. Alex - London Tea Jun 21, 2011

    Fantastic article. I’ve been recently astonded by the number of mums and dads who have written to us about how kids are enjoying tea. Especially teas with a hibiscus base and fruit pieces.

  15. Bryant Sep 12, 2011

    Hi there fantastic post , Thank you giving this information

  16. Candice Jul 23, 2012

    Like the ideas, and a few i have tried like the rasberry zinger, etc. But he wont drink them unless they are sweetened…loves the sweetness of chocolate milk, so what is the healthiest wau to sweeten it for him??

  17. drlisawatson Aug 13, 2012

    If your child is over a year old then try honey. It adds a natural sweetness and a great flavour. Another delicious option is maple syrup – try this with a cinnamon tea for a surprisingly delicious treat!

  18. tealover Jan 1, 2013

    Thanks for this article. It makes me feel better letting my kids drink tea, they love tea.

  19. shunee May 5, 2013

    is Rosemary tea ok for kids? I have seven year old and the tea really help focus but I to make sure its ok for him to drink it.

  20. drlisawatson May 24, 2013

    Yes. You can give rosemary tea to children over one year of age. One to two cups per day would be safe.
    Yours in health – Lisa

  21. veronica Oct 20, 2013

    Hi Dr. Lisa
    My son is 9 years old and he is very anxious I am looking for an alternative to using medication to help my little soothe and feel more at ease. I have her contradictory information about given children tea. Is passionfruit tea safe to use if so what would be the dose? how about valerian root? Any other tip to help with anxiety will be greatly appreciated.

  22. drlisawatson Nov 27, 2013

    Passionfruit is safe but I would not recommend using either passionflower or valerian in a child. I would suggest trying chamomile or oatstraw – both are gentle nervines that can calm the mind. If your child has anxiety consider taking them to a Naturopathic Doctor who can help get to the root of what is going on and offer you and your son the support he needs.

    ~Lisa

  23. Nadia Feb 10, 2014

    Hi!
    Thank you for your article. I started drinking tea and giving it to my kids. I am pregnant. Is it safe to drink it everyday? My kids are 3 and 4 years old. Is nettle ok for them?Thank you.

  24. drlisawatson Feb 28, 2014

    Yes. Nettle tea is fine for children!
    You can drink tea during pregnancy – it just depends what kind it is. Tea from the Camilla sinensis plant (black, green and white tea) is safe as long as you are not exceeding your daily amount of caffeine (200mg in pregnancy). Other teas may be safe – fruit tisanes, rooibos tea. Check with your Naturopathic Doctor before taking any herbal teas.
    ~Lisa

  25. vicky Jun 10, 2014

    can a toddler 2yrs old drink chamomile tea if he is a diabetic type 1

  26. drlisawatson Jun 18, 2014

    Chamomile tea is safe for a 2 year old child. Since it contains no sugar it should have no impact on blood sugar and is considered safe for diabetics. In fact, emerging research suggests it may protect the body against the damaging effects of hyperglycemia. See the study abstract here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18681440

    Yours in health
    ~Lisa

  27. Denise Jul 19, 2014

    Thank you for your advise. I have been considering tea for my 1 year old. She drinks mostly water or watered down juice, but I enjoy ice tea all day long and I was wondering when I could start introducing it to her. I am thinking of herbal teas for her and staying away from caffeine. Do you have any thoughts on when children can be introduced to teas with caffeine?

  28. drlisawatson Jul 23, 2014

    Children can be introduced to herbal teas within the first year of life! Start with fruit based teas (tisanes) and single teas (chamomile or lemon balm) rather than combination herbal teas. Children should not be having any teas with caffeine. I’d wait until late childhood or adolescence before starting those. ~Lisa

  29. Kira Sep 9, 2014

    I drink alot of unsweetened kuckicha tea, which I drink like iced tea. Do you think my 1 1/2 year okd could drink this as well?

  30. drlisawatson Sep 17, 2014

    Kuckicha (or kukicha) is a twig tea from the Camellia sinensis plant – the source of black, white and green teas. One of the unique things about Kuckicha tea is that it is naturally very low in caffeine. It has the lowest caffeine content of all the traditional teas!
    You could certainly share this tea with your child. Just be cautious – give tea away from meals to prevent iron deficiency, the most common nutrient deficiency in childhood.
    ~ Lisa

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