Your child’s health is something that you’ll always worry about, especially in the flu season. Many moms swear by elderberry to ease flu symptoms and help it pass quickly. But is elderberry syrup for babies safe?
Well, the verdict is still out on the safety of elderberry for babies. Clinical trials have not conclusively shown the efficacy of elderberry in young children.
In addition, since it’s a supplement, it does not require FDA approval before selling, and, therefore, it isn’t FDA approved either.
That said, elderberry syrup for babies has been used safely by moms for many years with no incidences. Let’s find out more below.
What is Elderberry Syrup?
Before we dive into the safety concerns, here’s a brief run-down about the syrup. Elderberry syrup is specially formulated for children.
It is also sold as gummies, pills, or lozenges for older children and adults. The medicinal supplement is derived from the berries of a tree known as the Elder tree, predominantly found in Europe.
The shiny purple, almost black berries (scientific name Sambucus Nigra) contain:
- Vitamin C
- Phenolic acid
- Dietary fiber
All these nutrients make the berries a good immune booster with high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
The bark, leaves and unripened fruit have a form of cyanide which can make Elderberry products potentially toxic if it’s not prepared correctly.
SEE ALSO: Can Babies Have Maple Syrup?
What Age Can I Give Elderberry To My Child?
Elderberry syrup for infants is suitable for children one year and up. The dosage will depend on the child’s age and weight.
Some Elderberry syrups have honey which puts children at risk of botulism, especially if they are less than one year old.
Can Babies Take Elderberry Syrup Before One Year?
Children below one year are at higher risk of botulism and vitamin toxicity. So look for elderberry syrup that doesn’t contain honey if you must give them. We suggest keeping off any brands that use honey.
Each brand of elderberry syrup will specify the exact age range and dosage. Children between the ages of:
- 1 to 6 years will usually take 5 to 10mls
- 7 to 12 years can take 10 to 15mls of syrup
Check for the specific details on the manufacturer labels.
Note: It’s best to buy elderberry syrup manufactured by reputable companies. Check if the manufacturer follows Current Good Manufacturer Procedures(CGMA) stipulated by the FDA.
These standards ensure that the manufacturer follows safe practices when collecting and making the syrup.
Remember to let your health care provider know the dose of elderberry syrup you’re giving to your baby to avoid any complications.
What Does Elderberry Do For Babies?
Elderberry improves your baby’s immune system helping them to fight diseases. Additionally, it helps alleviate the symptoms of flu and common colds because of its antiviral properties.
It also aids in the treatment of the following:
- Gum disease
- Nerve pain
- Lung disease
- Hay fever
Should I Give My Baby Elderberry Syrup?
The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend giving vitamins or supplements to babies. According to the academy, if children receive a healthy and balanced diet, there is no need to supplement nutrients.
Additional doses of vitamins can have a toxic effect which can cause nausea or headaches. So talk to your doctor before you give elderberry.
That said, elderberry is widely recognized as a useful aid to help your baby cope with cold and flu. If your mom or grandma’s passed on this age-old tradition to you, there’s no reason why you can’t use it as long as you stick to the good brands of elderberry syrup like the following:
- Gaia Kids elderberry syrup. This one is fully organic and contains honey to soothe throat aches and coughs.
- Sambucol elderberry syrup for babies. This one also contains dog rose fruit extract for added strength.
- Nature’s Way Sambucus. This elderberry syrup recipe without honey also contains Echinacea to strengthen the immune system.
What Are The Side Effects Of Taking Elderberry?
Elderberries have to be thoroughly processed before you can use them. They can be toxic in their raw form and cause extreme nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Large amounts of Elderberry can cause poisoning. That’s why it’s only recommended that you give your baby the syrup from a reputable seller.
Most store-bought syrups will be lightly concentrated and, therefore, not enough to cause any serious harm.
Avoid making Elderberry syrup for infants by yourself as you could risk poisoning your baby or worse. If you have to, use the recipe we have shared.
Also, double-check that you’re not overdosing your child with vitamins. Check with any other supplements like multi-vitamin syrup(parents love this one here) that you’re giving your child, so you don’t mistakenly double up a specific vitamin.
Is Elderberry Clinically Proven?
There have not been any clear conclusions through studies to definitively prove that it works. Some studies have shown that it helps in reducing the duration of flu symptoms by about four days.
However, other studies showed no real effect on how severe or how long the flu symptoms were with or without elderberry. More studies are necessary to settle on a conclusive outcome.
What Else Can I Use In Place Of Elderberry Syrup For Babies?
Most other supplements like Zinc are also said to help with flu symptoms. However, they have also not been conclusively proven to work. If you want to use any other supplements, stick to reputable suppliers and monitored doses.
In addition to supplements, ensure that you:
- Disinfect surfaces when there is a bug going around, especially if another family member contracted the flu.
- Wash your hands with soap and water before and after attending to your baby
- Avoid being in close contact with anyone who is sick.
- Give your baby plenty of fluids, including breast milk or formula.
Most importantly, always discuss with your health provider before deciding on a supplement for your baby.