At the onset of a cold or flu, you may be quick to reach for that soothing herbal tea, but getting your kids to drink it is another story. Fortunately, there are ways to make herbs fun and enjoyable for kids while they still reap the benefits. You may even find yourself getting requests for some of these herbal goodies when no ailment is to be found!
Here are just a few ways I make herbs palatable for kids:
Great for teething, soar throats, swollen/cut lip or gums, etc.
1. Make a strong herbal tea.
2. Pour freshly boiled water over fresh or dried herbs and let steep for a good long time (15-20 min at least). My go-to blend consists of chamomile, lemon balm, peppermint, and catnip (this blend helps with digestion, nausea, calming nerves, restoring electrolytes and stimulating the immune system).
3. While tea is still warm, mix in a little maple syrup or raw honey to sweeten. You can also add a splash of juice such as pomegranate, carrot, or cherry. Do not to use juice that has added sugars, preservatives, or “colors.”
4. Let the tea cool down, pour into popsicle moulds (or you can use an empty ice tray), freeze and enjoy as needed!
Have a Tea Party!
When Aria has been especially feisty or restless, or if she’s fighting off a cold, I like to make her some herbal tea. Sometimes, the best way to get her to drink it is to put it in her tea pot (which is shaped like a puppy dog), and make a special “tea time” with her. I let her drink from a real tea cup or small mug and we sometimes have a treat to go with.
I have been fortunate that Aria enjoys herbal tea without added sweeteners, but for the kids who are harder to convince, simply add some honey or maple syrup to the tea. You could also try just adding a few more peppermint leaves (which are naturally sweet) to your blend.
If you aren’t into using loose leaves, Traditional Medicinals makes great bagged teas.
One of my favorite things to do in the winter is to boil 1/2 cup of dried eucalyptus leaves in water on the stove. Its antiseptic properties disinfect up to about 50 feet in any direction, so it helps to clean the air when colds are going around. For kids with respiratory issues, bad coughs, phlegm, etc., once or twice a day help fan some of the wonderful steam toward them and encourage them to breathe deeply. It’s usually fun for them to watch the steam and boiling water too (as long as they are monitored at all times…or else you’ll be treating burns next!)
Dilute a Tincture
Tinctures are a concentrated extract of an herb. Some tinctures are made with glycerine, but most are made with alcohol which make it rather unpleasant to take, and must be diluted for kids.
A few drops of echinacea tincture in a small glass of juice, diluted with some water, is a great way to guard against colds and flus in winter.
When a cough or congestion is present, horehound is wonderful, but it is very bitter. A shot of juice with 10 or so drops of the tincture is will help expectorate.
**You can also add some tincture to already sweetened tea.
Make a Lavender “Buddy”
Lavender is a powerful herb in bringing relaxation and restoration to nerves. Children are very responsive to this herb. You can always put a drop of the essential on their shirt or favorite stuffed animal, but another fun option is to make a special lavender “buddy.”
It can be as simple as an odd sock, or you can bust out the sewing machine. Either way, fill the “buddy” with dried lavender flowers and let the relaxation begin! Encourage them to hug their buddy when a they’ve had a tumble, or while you may be attending to a boo-boo.
Warm Lavender “Buddy”
A variation on the above: make a mixture of rice and lavender leaves. The buddy can then be warmed up in a microwave to help sore limbs and muscles, or to keep warm during fever chills, while getting the lovely effects of the lavender as well.