Pwede ko ba painumin ang baby ko ng katas ng ampalaya?
This is perhaps one of the most asked questions in a lot of mommy groups these days and perhaps, one of the most popular advice we oftentimes hear from the older generation. Katas ng ampalaya, oregano, and even malunggay is perhaps every lolo/lola’s remedy for every baby sickness — from halak, tummy aches, coughs, colic, and even “sawan” or those green patches that are quite common in babies. But is it really safe to give such herbal remedies to our babies?
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation on this matter is clear: babies aged 0 to 6 months can ONLY be fed with breastmilk or formula. While nutritionally-adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods should be introduced at 6 months with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years old and beyond.
The ever so popular katas ng ampalaya, oregano, or even malunggay falls under herbal medicines or botanical supplements. Aside from the fact that it goes against the aforementioned WHO recommendation that infants can only be fed with either breastmilk or formula, giving such herbal remedies to days or months old babies could have a few potential problems:
Infants may react to herbal medicines differently from older children or adults. We should always keep in mind that infants still have small body weights and developing or immature gut, gastrointestinal, nervous, and immune systems. So there’s a high probability that their bodies will react differently to these herbal medicines compared to that of a 10-year-old kid’s or even a toddler’s. At the same time, most vegetables and plants these days are exposed to chemicals such as pesticides and even fertilizers. And even if we do wash and prepare these concoctions ourselves, chances are, our baby’s immature digestive system will still get exposed to these chemicals.
Herbal remedies might cause allergic reactions and other health problems. We have no way of telling if our infant is allergic to anything and exposing him and his immature gut to such concentrated amounts of ampalaya, oregano, or malunggay is an unnecessary risk. Certain herbal supplements can also cause high blood pressure or liver damage.
Herbal or “Natural” also does not equate to safe. A lot of plants can contain potent chemicals, and since herbal medicines are largely unregulated, dosages often vary. Hence, the chances of giving a high dose are entirely possible.
Ultimately, the best way to ensure that your baby’s safe and healthy is to discuss and work on it together with your healthcare practitioner. Discuss and check with your pediatrician if you have any concerns about your baby, especially before giving any herbal preparation or katas. Keep in mind that when it comes to our babies, it’s better to be safe than sorry.