Fussiness and teething — when I lead first-year parenting groups these are two of the hottest topics, and everyone has a different option about how to alleviate them.
According to a new study by the FDA, lots of moms are going the herbal route — choosing to give their infants teas and herbal remedies for colic and teething pain. That’s a fact that doesn’t please doctors, since there is little evidence that they work and that they are safe.
Here’s what moms are giving their babies for discomfort, and why researchers wish they wouldn’t:
In the current study, nine percent of those surveyed (in a group of 2,600 U.S. mothers) gave their babies an herbal remedy in the first year of life. Interestingly the longer mom breastfed, the more likely she was to use herbs and teas. The most popular were products containing chamomile to sooth teething pain, gripe water (which includes fennel and ginger), and teething tablets.
A review of 15 studies published in Pediatrics earlier this year found little evidence that treatments to sooth colic (like probiotics, sugar water, and herbal extracts) really work. And since herbal products aren’t regulated the same way drugs are, the FDA warns that we can’t know if they are really safe to give to babies. I’m remembering the recall of Hylands teething tablets last year (they were found to have unreliable dose of their active ingredient). Meanwhile, my son had chomped on plenty as a six-month old as I struggled to find a way to settle his fussy spells.
The researchers also point out that babies are really only supposed to drink breast milk or formula for the first year — introducing anything else could affect their hunger and taste for their regular milk diet.
What do you think? Did you ever use herbal remedies for your baby — did they work?