Herbs can be a safe, effective way to help your baby through common sicknesses they may face. All it takes is a little know-how and having what you need on hand.
Now you may feel like using herbs is overwhelming to you at first, but it really isn’t all that difficult once you get going. Taking the first step can often times be the hardest, but the more you learn about them and use them the more your confidence in herbs as well as your abilities to use them correctly will grow.
Today, I want to share 5 herbs with you that should be included in your herbal first aid kit for your little ones. These herbs are easy to find and can be stored dry in whole form so you have easy access to them when you need them. They can be used for everyday ailments like scraps, upset tummies, trouble sleeping, and even with occasional symptoms like fevers, coughing, and yeast rashes.
5 Herbs That Should Be In Your Baby’s Herbal First Aid Kit
Calendula is one of my favorite herbs… and not just for my kids. I use it equally as much on myself, especially when it comes to making herbal skincare products. However, when it comes to using it for kids, it has many qualities that make it perfect as a “children’s herb.”
Calendula is great for healing wounds, it has anti-inflammatory properties, it’s anti-microbial so it helps deter bacteria, fungus, and viruses, it’s a mild immune stimulant, it calms smooth muscle spasms, and so much more. It’s a safe herb, but it is part of the Asteraceae family which some people have allergies to. Be sure to test your child for allergies to this herb before using a bunch of it on them.
Calendula is a warm and dry herb which means it’s very useful for cold, wet ailments. It can be taken as a tea or tincture or infused in oil or vinegar. It’s slightly bitter so if you try to give it to your kid as a tea, you’ll want to throw in some yummier tasting herbs to cover that taste up… unless you’re going for herbal bitters.
I store it dry, and most often use it as an infused oil in salves or for its antimicrobial properties in tincture form. I also use it in powdered form for yeast in babies too!
If you’d like to learn more about calendula, check out my Calendula Herb Challenge. It’s full of information and fun DIY projects.
Licorice is definitely a children’s herb not only because it tastes so good, but because it has so many amazing properties! It’s part of the Leguminosae plant family, and it’s actually a legume. Yep, you read that right. If you watch it go all the way through its growing season you’ll see little seed pods grow on it, and inside you’ll find little beans.
Licorice is an adaptogen which means it helps the body deal with stress, it’s anti-inflammatory, it has antibacterial and antiviral properties, it’s a demulcent so it’s soothing to mucous membranes, it soothes muscle spasms, its expectorant action loosens stuck mucous, and it’s a great liver tonic. It’s also considered an herbal synergist which means it helps other herbs work better, and it’s rarely used alone.
You can use it in powdered form, as a tincture, or as a decoction. As far as energetics and taste go, it’s moistening and sweet so it works well for dry conditions like dry coughs.
I store the root in whole form dry, and I’ll periodically purchase it in powdered form if I need to use it that way. I rarely store large amounts of powdered herbs as they just don’t last long that way. When I do have it in powdered form, I keep it in my freezer until I’ve used it up. I also like to keep it tinctured to use in different remedies… a couple of my favorite children’s remedies that use licorice are in my Herbal Remedy Recipe e-book (Psst… it’s free!).
Licorice is safe for babies, but it’s not a long-term herb. You should never use licorice for more than 4-6 weeks at one time as it can increase one’s blood pressure… even babies. This is because it can deplete potassium levels so its wise to take alongside a potassium rich herb such as like dandelion.
Chamomile is another great children’s herb. It, like calendula, is from the Asteraceae family so be sure you check for allergies (which are RARE, by the way).
Chamomile is first and foremost a nervine so it calms you down, and it has great anti-inflammatory properties too. It’s also a carminative because of its high essential oil content which means it helps with colic, upset stomach, and cramps. It helps with healing wounds, is considered a digestive bitter, and also has anti-microbial properties.
It can be used in herbal bath soaks, infused into oil and used as is or made into a salve, used as a tincture, or drank as a tea (which pairs perfectly with yummy chamomile tea cookies). I like to keep chamomile in dry form and powder it myself in a coffee grinder when needed. I also keep it tinctured and infused in oil.
Chamomile is a safe herb for children as long as there are no allergy risks.
Comfrey is at the top of my list of herbs for babies because of its strong vulnerary properties. I’ve already talked about some other vulnerary herbs like calendula and chamomile, but comfrey (in my opinion) is the best. It’s commonly used for sprains and broken bones, but seeing as how that doesn’t really apply to babies, it’s used to promote the healing of wounds, rashes, and burns.
Beyond being a vulnerary, it’s used as a demulcent which is great when using a poultice on a wound or burn. It can also slow external bleeding. In fact, one of its earliest recorded uses was from the Greeks who used it to slow the bleeding. It’s also an astringent herb so it tightens and tones tissues preventing fluid loss, it’s an anti-inflammatory, and it has antiseptic properties as well.
Comfrey is cooling and moistening, but it has a secondary drying effect seeing as how it’s an astringent. So basically, at first it’s a demulcent (slippery and moistening), but it eventually acts as an astringent (drying) to keep fluids where they go… hence the “drying” energetic label.
I keep dried comfrey leaf and root on hand, and I also grow this fresh in my herb garden. It can be used as a poultice, infused in oil and made into a salve, or as an herbal wash.
Comfrey is safe for external use. When using comfrey externally on wounds, it’s important to know that it often works so well at encouraging tissue regeneration that it can close up a wound at the surface before the wound has healed from the inside out. This can trap infection inside a wound so be sure there is no sign of infection before using comfrey for wounds.
There’s some debate about its internal use, but when it comes to kids… its best left on the outside of their little bodies.
5. Elder Flowers
Elder flowers are old plant medicine. They are from the Adoxaceae plant family which is best known for its berries (which are also great to have on hand), but the flowers are what I’m after when it comes to babies.
Elder flowers are a relaxing nervine and make a yummy tea. They also have anti-inflammatory properties and can be infused into oils and made into salves. They are great for colds, flus, and fevers as they’re not only antiviral, but they lower fevers by inducing perspiration. Plus they contain vitamin c so that’s always helpful during sickness.
Elder flowers are cooling and slightly sweet so they make a pleasant tea to drink. They can be used in syrups and tinctures, but teas are the most common preparation. They are also safe for kids in every way.
I harvest elder flowers every year to dry and store, and they are part of my go-to fever remedy when I need to lower my children’s fevers.
You can learn more about using elder flower for your kids in this post.
Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite herbs to keep on hand for your babies? Share what they are and how you use them in the comments below.
- The Herbarium at The Herbal Academy of New England