Can Babies Have Vanilla Extract? Guidelines for Safe Use

| Reviewed By Amanda Lundberg, BSN, RN

Vanilla extract is an essential ingredient when it comes to making yummy desserts or adding flavor to baked goods, but can your baby have foods that contain vanilla extract? Is it safe?

Rubbing your baby’s gums with vanilla extract is a home remedy that has been used by mothers and grandmothers in years passed, but can this home remedy actually work?

If your baby is having a hard time drinking their formula, could adding vanilla help? Continue reading to see if vanilla extract could be a good and safe fit for your baby. 

Can babies have vanilla extract? It is safe for babies to have pure vanilla extract in baked or cooked foods as most of the alcohol will dissipate during cooking. When adding vanilla to formula or any other uses where it will not be cooked, use vanilla flavoring made with real vanilla beans and free from alcohol and colorings.

Vanilla may be a good option for helping your little one with teething or flavoring milk; however, there are a few things to know before giving your baby vanilla.

Below you will find guidelines and more information regarding vanilla extract and your baby.                 

Vanilla Extract and Babies – What To Know

By definition, vanilla extract contains alcohol, but there are alcohol-free options such as vanilla flavorings and imitation vanilla.

The following details can help you decide on the right type of vanilla and how to administer it to your infant. 

General Guidelines

When it comes to giving your baby vanilla extract, be aware of the ingredients (alcohol, corn syrups, etc.).

Imitation vanilla taste similar to the real thing, but it is made from a petroleum derivative and may contain alcohol and other questionable ingredients.

It is best to find an all-natural pure vanilla flavoring that is free of alcohol.

If you have a vanilla extract that has alcohol in it, you can give it to your baby if you cook or heat the vanilla so the alcohol can evaporate. 

Does Vanilla Extract Contain Alcohol?

Yes, vanilla extract has alcohol in it. Alcohol helps in the extraction process. 

Is Alcohol in Vanilla Extract Safe for Babies?

In the United States, there is not enough established information regarding alcohol in vanilla extract to determine if it is safe for babies.

It is best to be safe and to only give your baby alcohol-free vanilla or to heat/cook your vanilla extract before giving it to your infant.

Does Cooking Remove Alcohol?

Yes! Cooking vanilla will allow the majority of alcohol to evaporate out of the vanilla extract. This is a great option to use if you are adding vanilla to your infant’s food or milk and do not have alcohol-free vanilla. 

Pure vs. Imitation Vanilla Extract

Pure vanilla extract is made from actual vanilla beans that have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Imitation vanilla is made out of different additives and man-made flavorings.

The flavoring in imitation vanilla is manufactured from guaiacol. Guaiacol typically comes from petroleum.

Alcohol-Free Vanilla Extract for Babies

The great news is that there are many vanilla flavorings that do not contain alcohol! This makes it less stressful when giving your baby vanilla.

The following vanilla flavorings are all made from real vanilla beans. They have no added sugar and are free from chemicals and artificial coloring.

Most Popular
Singing Dog Vanilla: Alcohol-Free Vanilla Flavor | 2oz
  • All Natural, Gluten Free, Kosher
Check Price on Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

You could also choose to make your own…

Vanilla Extract for Teething

When your baby is teething, you may be looking for ways to naturally relieve the pain. Many suggest that vanilla could be a good option for reducing gum pain in infants. 

Why It’s Thought To Help

Vanilla is thought to be helpful for teething because the main ingredient is vanillin. Vanillin is a natural pain reliever with anti-inflammatory properties.

Adding vanilla to your baby’s gums can help with swelling and pain. It also is said to create a calming effect and reduce anxiety.

Data is still being collected on how helpful it truly can be for pain reduction, but it is a safe remedy to try as long as you only use a small amount of vanilla extract or use an all-natural vanilla flavoring.  

Is It Safe?

It is safe to use a tiny amount of pure vanilla extract on your baby’s gums when they are teething, but be aware that it does contain alcohol.

As an alternative, you can try an alcohol-free pure vanilla flavoring for its soothing properties.

How To Use

The easiest way to apply vanilla to your teething baby is to dab a bit of vanilla on your clean finger and gently apply it to his or her gums.

It can be helpful to gently massage your baby’s gums with the vanilla and to try to create a calm environment by playing some soft soothing music or singing softly to your baby.

You can apply vanilla to your baby’s gums every couple of hours. 

Vanilla Extract for Formula

It is difficult if your baby is rejecting formula. If your baby is in need of hypoallergenic formula, it can be challenging to get your baby to drink due to the taste.

However, adding vanilla can be a great way to sweeten the formula and encourage your baby to drink, but be sure to speak with your pediatrician before making any changes.

When adding vanilla to your formula, it needs to be free of alcohol. An organic all-natural vanilla flavoring is the best option. 

Related Questions: 

Can Babies Have Vanilla Yogurt?

Babies can start having yogurt around 6-7 months of age. Vanilla yogurt will typically have more sugar added, so pay attention to labels and ingredients.

Stonyfield yogurt is a great option for an organic vanilla yogurt for your baby. 

Can I Use Vanilla Flavoring Instead of Vanilla Extract? 

It is best to use vanilla extract for recipes as it has the most natural flavor.

Vanilla flavoring is often artificial and may contain additives and chemicals. Imitation vanilla does not have the same anti-inflammatory properties that true vanilla bean has.

True vanilla beans can have calming benefits, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties that imitation vanilla lacks. 

Closing Thoughts

Giving your baby pure organic vanilla extract is a safe way to help your baby with teething, and it can safely be added to baked goods for your baby prior to cooking.

When adding vanilla to formula, make sure it is free of additives, flavorings, sugar, and alcohol to best suit your baby. If you are hesitant or have any questions, refer to your pediatrician’s advice.