Fennel Seeds For Babies: Benefits, Precautions And Recipes


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Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is an aromatic medicinal plant from the carrot family. All its parts, such as leaves, bulbs, and foliage, have distinct uses. However, fennel seeds, in specific, are famous for their unique culinary and medicinal properties.

For centuries, they have been in use to treat various ailments related to digestive, reproductive, and respiratory systems. Parents consider adding fennel seeds to their baby’s diet due to the seeds’ potential to promote digestion and fight infections.

This post tells you about fennel seeds, its safety for babies, potential health benefits, and ways to add fennel seeds in recipes for your baby and toddler.

When Can Babies Consume Fennel Seeds?

There is no specific age for the introduction of fennel seeds. Vegetables related to fennel, such as carrots, can be introduced at the age of six months (1). You may introduce fennel seeds as a flavoring substance to six-month-olds, who consume various other solids.

You may give a teaspoon or two of fennel water to babies. It will help the infant adjust to fennel’s taste and digestibility. Gradually, add fennel powder to different recipes, such as porridge, cereals, soups, and stews. Fennel powder enhances a meal’s flavor.

You may also occasionally feed fennel tea to babies. Young babies can consume a tablespoon of fennel tea after or before meals. Older babies and toddlers may be able to consume half a cup of fennel tea spread across multiple servings in a day. Consult a pediatrician to know the quantity of fennel tea you can give to your baby.

Nutritional Value Of Fennel Seeds

Besides adding flavor and aroma to a meal, fennel seeds can also offer nutrients and phytochemicals. One teaspoon (2g) of whole fennel seeds can provide the following nutrients to your infant (2) (3).

Nutrients Amount RDA
Fiber, total dietary 0.796g
Calcium, Ca 23.9mg 270mg
Iron, Fe 0.371mg 10mg
Magnesium, Mg 7.7mg 60mg
Potassium, K 33.9mg 700mg

Sources: U.S. Department of Agriculture and World Health Organization

Possible Uses Of Fennel Seeds For Babies

Fennel seeds contain bioactive compounds, which may offer some long-term health benefits (4). Below are some notable benefits of fennel seeds for babies.

  1. Support digestion: Fennel seed water, tea, and essential oil can enhance gastric motility, improve digestion, and promote a healthy appetite (5) (6). Consumption of fennel water or tea is used as a herbal remedy for treating indigestion and gastric distension in babies.
  1. Help fight constipation: Fennel seeds are known for treating constipation by enhancing gastric motility (4) (7). Fennel seed water and tea are common remedies for relieving constipation in traditional and alternative medicine.
  1. Relieve colic symptoms: Fennel seed oil emulsion has shown effectiveness in reducing the symptoms of infantile colic (8) (9). However, fennel oil may contain some compounds, such as estragole, inappropriate for a baby’s health (10). Consult a doctor before serving fennel oil to a baby.
  1. Might relieve cough: Warm fennel water and tea are used as home remedies to manage symptoms of respiratory ailments, such as cough and bronchitis. Anethole and fenchone are compounds with expectorant properties found in fennel oil (5) (6).
  1. Overall health: Studies have noted that fennel seeds have antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and hepatoprotective effects that can benefit health in the long run (10) (11) (12).

Consult a pediatrician before using fennel seeds for any therapeutic or medicinal purposes.

Precautions To Take When Feeding Fennel Seeds To Babies

Here are some tips to follow while feeding fennel to babies and toddlers.

  • Buy organic fennel seeds and fennel powder from a reputed store.
  • Do not feed whole fennel seeds to babies as they can be a choking hazard. Instead, use crushed fennel seeds in purees and smoothies
  • If the baby shows sensitivity or intolerance after ingesting fennel in any form, discontinue feeding it.
  • Fennel seed allergy is rare but possible. The allergy symptoms include hives, swelling of the mouth, itching, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. These symptoms may appear immediately after ingesting or touching fennel.
  • If the baby has a family history of allergies to certain pollens and foods (parsley, carrot, celery, parsnip, etc.) belonging to the Apiaceae family (13), consult a doctor before introducing fennel.
  • Fennel seed can interact with several medicines, such as antibiotics (14). Consult a pediatrician about fennel seed use if your baby is on any medications.

Fennel Seed Recipes For Babies

Here are some easy-to-consume fennel seed recipes for babies and toddlers.

1. Fennel water

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You will need:

  • 1 cup clean drinking water
  • 1tsp fennel seeds

How to:

  1. Soak a teaspoon of fennel seeds in a cup of water overnight.
  2. The next day, filter the water into a bowl and feed the baby a teaspoon or as directed by your pediatrician. Do not serve more than a tablespoon a day to younger babies.

2. Fennel tea

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1tsp fennel seeds (crushed)

How to:

  1. Boil water into a saucepan over medium heat and add fennel seeds.
  2. Switch off the flame and cover the pan. Let the seeds steep in the water for 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Strain the tea into a cup, let it cool, and feed it to your baby.

For toddlers, you can serve fennel seed powder by adding it to milk and other dairy products, such as yogurt.

Fennel seeds are an aromatic spice with several long-term health benefits. You can feed it to your baby in age-appropriate forms; add fennel seed water and fennel seed powder in different recipes to enhance their flavor.


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