Can I give my 6 month old elderberry syrup?

Elderberry syrup is a popular herbal remedy used to help prevent and treat colds and flu. Some parents wonder if it’s safe to give to babies. Here’s what you need to know about giving elderberry syrup to infants under 1 year old.

What is elderberry syrup?

Elderberry syrup is made from the berries of the elderberry plant. The berries contain compounds that may have antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Elderberry syrup is typically made by cooking the berries with honey or another sweetener to make a concentrated liquid.

Some research suggests that elderberry can help reduce symptoms and duration of colds and flu. It’s thought to work by preventing viruses from entering and replicating in cells. However, more research is still needed.

Is elderberry syrup safe for babies?

There are limited studies on the safety and efficacy of elderberry syrup in infants. Here are some key considerations:

  • Not approved for babies: Elderberry syrup is not approved by the FDA for use in children under 1 year old. There are no official guidelines on appropriate dosing or safety.
  • Potential side effects: Elderberry may cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. It can also interact with certain medications.
  • Risk of toxicity: Raw or unripe elderberries contain a toxic compound. Commercial preparations are processed to remove toxicity. But there is still a risk if not prepared properly.
  • Choking hazard: Elderberry syrup has a thick, sticky consistency. This poses a risk of choking in babies.

Due to these concerns, most health authorities recommend avoiding elderberry syrup before age 1. More research is needed to establish safety guidelines.

What are the potential benefits?

There are a few potential benefits of elderberry for infants when used cautiously:

  • May help prevent and shorten colds/flu: The antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties may help reduce duration and symptoms.
  • Rich in antioxidants: Elderberry has high levels of flavonoids and anthocyanins, which have antioxidant effects.
  • May support immune health: Compounds in elderberry may boost immune cell activity.

However, these potential benefits need to be validated with more clinical trials. There is currently not enough evidence to recommend elderberry syrup solely for these uses in infants.

What are the potential risks and side effects?

There are some possible risks associated with giving elderberry syrup to babies:

  • Choking: The thick consistency poses a choking hazard for babies.
  • Toxicity: Improperly prepared syrup may contain traces of cyanide-inducing compounds.
  • Allergic reaction: Elderberry may cause an allergic reaction in some infants.
  • Unsafe dosing: Appropriate dosing guidelines are not established for infants.
  • Drug interactions: Elderberry may interact with diuretics, laxatives, immune suppressants.
  • Artificial ingredients: Some syrups contain added sugar, flavors and preservatives.
  • Not FDA approved: Safety and effectiveness are not evaluated for this age group.

Talk to your pediatrician before giving your baby any herbal supplement. Discontinue use if any side effects occur. Seek medical care immediately if your child has difficulty breathing or other concerning symptoms.

What’s the recommended age?

Most doctors recommend waiting until 1 year old before considering elderberry syrup. Here are the general age guidelines:

  • Under 6 months: Not recommended due to choking risk and lack of safety data.
  • 6-12 months: Consult pediatrician first, use with caution in small amounts.
  • Over 1 year: Can be used more safely if given correct dose for age/weight.
  • Over 3 years: Considered safe for short-term use if following package directions.

Stick to the recommended age, even if your baby is more mature. Their immune system, metabolism, and organs are still developing. Wait until at least 1 year old before trying elderberry syrup.

What’s the correct dosage by age?

There are currently no standardized dosing guidelines for elderberry syrup in infants or children. Most products state to consult a doctor before use in children under age 12. Here are some general dosage considerations by age:

Under 1 year

Not recommended. Speak to your pediatrician first if you wish to try elderberry. Use extreme caution and give very small amounts if approved by doctor.

1-3 years old

Up to 1⁄2 teaspoon (2mL) per day. Mix with water or dilute juice. Consult pediatrician for appropriate dosage based on weight.

4-8 years old

Up to 1 teaspoon (5mL) per day. Follow product label for dosing based on age.

9-12 years old

Up to 2 teaspoons (10mL) per day. Follow product label for dosing based on age.

Always check with your pediatrician before giving elderberry syrup to children. Stop use if any side effects occur. When in doubt, stick to the lower end of dosage guidelines.

What time of day is best?

Here are some tips on when to give your infant elderberry syrup:

  • Morning: Try giving the dose in the morning. This allows it to provide benefits throughout the day.
  • Before or after feedings: Give it 30 minutes before or after breastfeeding/bottle to prevent associations.
  • Avoid bedtime: Try not to give it right before naps or bedtime in case it causes any digestive upset.
  • Consistent schedule: Give it at the same 1-2 times per day to get into a routine.

Aim for consistency and avoid too close to feedings. Watch for any effects on sleep or digestive comfort. Adjust timing as needed. Check with your pediatrician if you have any concerns.

Should I give elderberry syrup daily or just for illness?

For infants and children, elderberry syrup should only be used for short-term immune support when needed. Here are some guidelines on frequency of use:

  • When sick: Only give it when your baby has a cold, flu, or respiratory illness. Use for a few days until symptoms improve.
  • Traveling: You can use it for a couple weeks when traveling to boost immunity against germs.
  • Daily use: Not recommended for daily/ongoing use in babies under 1 year old.
  • Doctor’s advice: Follow your pediatrician’s recommendations on exact frequency and duration.

Elderberry syrup is meant for short-term use during illnesses or high-risk times. Using it daily or long-term is not advised for infants unless explicitly recommended by your doctor. Stop use if any side effects occur.

What method is safest for babies?

For infants, it’s safest to avoid giving elderberry syrup by the spoonful. Here are some lower-risk methods:

  • Mixed with milk: You can mix a small amount into breastmilk or formula.
  • Mixed with food: Try incorporating into warm pureed foods like oatmeal.
  • Mixed with liquids: Add a dash into water, juice, or tea and give in a bottle.
  • Pacifier dip: Dip pacifier tip in elderberry syrup and allow baby to suck off.
  • Spoon avoidant: Don’t put syrup directly in mouth until over 1 year old.

Mixing it thoroughly into liquids or foods reduces choking risk. This allows your baby to ingest it slowly. Never force elderberry syrup by the spoonful. Go slowly and watch for any signs of reaction or intolerance.

What precautions should I take?

If you choose to give your baby elderberry syrup, take these precautions:

  • Talk to your doctor: Get your pediatrician’s approval first.
  • Review ingredients: Ensure it’s high quality with no additives or toxins.
  • Start slowly: Begin with a tiny amount mixed thoroughly into formula/food.
  • Give with food: Don’t give on an empty stomach to minimize upset.
  • Monitor reactions: Watch closely for rashes, digestive issues, or allergic response.
  • Avoid daily use: Only use for short periods of time as needed.
  • Stop if concerns: Discontinue immediately if any concerns arise.

Proceed with extreme care and caution. Never give elderberry syrup to soothe fussiness or for sleep – use only for intended medicinal purposes.

What are signs of a negative reaction?

Carefully monitor your baby when first giving elderberry syrup. Discontinue use if you notice any of these possible signs of reaction:

  • Rash or hives
  • Changes in breathing
  • Swelling of lips, face, or throat
  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Excessive crying
  • Redness around mouth/lips
  • Increased congestion
  • Sleepiness or lethargy

These may be signs of an allergic reaction, toxicity, or side effects. Seek medical help immediately if your child has trouble breathing, swelling, or other severe symptoms. Otherwise, call your doctor if side effects don’t subside promptly after stopping use.

Are there any alternatives?

If you’re looking for ways to help bolster your baby’s immune system and prevent colds, some alternatives to elderberry include:

  • Vitamin D: Supplement with vitamin D as approved by doctor.
  • Probiotics: Give infant probiotic drops to support gut immunity.
  • Hydration: Ensure your baby is getting enough fluids.
  • Breastfeeding: Breastmilk provides protective antibodies.
  • Saline spray: Use nasal saline spray to help clear mucus.
  • Humidifier: Use a humidifier to ease congestion and coughs.
  • Honey: Give honey mixed into warm drinks for children over 1 year.

For treating active illness, talk to your doctor about safe symptom relief options like nasal suctioning, fever management, fluids, and rest. Avoid overuse of OTC cold medications without your pediatrician’s guidance.

Key takeaways

Here are the key takeaways on using elderberry syrup in infants under 1 year old:

  • Not recommended: Elderberry syrup is generally not advised for babies under 1 year old.
  • Lack of evidence: More studies are needed to confirm safety and efficacy in infants.
  • Potential benefits: May help with colds when used cautiously in babies 6+ months old.
  • Risks: Choking hazard, allergic reactions, and unknown appropriate dosage.
  • Dosage: Start very low, mix into food/liquid for babies under 1 year old.
  • Doctor’s advice: Get approval from your pediatrician before using in babies.
  • Monitoring: Watch closely for any negative reactions or side effects.
  • Short term use: Only use for a week or two when baby is sick.

While elderberry syrup may offer immune-supporting benefits for older children and adults, it should be avoided for babies under 1 year old due to safety concerns. Always check with your pediatrician before giving any new remedy to an infant or child. Proceed slowly and carefully watch for any reaction. Discontinue use at the first sign of intolerance or side effects.

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