Can Babies Have Vanilla Extract? [Yes, But Be Careful!]

According to Symrise, around 18,000 products worldwide contain vanilla, making this spice a highly demanded flavor.

Vanilla extract is produced by soaking vanilla beans in alcohol and water. And the alcohol part makes many parents worry and wonder “can babies have vanilla extract”?

The short answer is “yes”, but there is more to it.

In this post you will learn:

  • How to safely give vanilla extract to your baby
  • Whether you can add vanilla extract to baby formula
  • What alternatives you have
  • And more!

Table of Contents

Can Babies Have Vanilla Extract?

Yes, vanilla extract is safe for babies, especially if you opt for the alcohol-free version, known as vanilla flavoring. However, even vanilla extract containing alcohol is safe to give babies, as long as it is given in moderation and is cooked along with food to let the alcohol evaporate.

Things To Consider When Buying Vanilla Extract For Your Baby

Vanilla extract can help you add flavor to your baby’s food, but there are a couple of things you should consider before buying the product:

Vanilla Extract Contains Alcohol

Pure vanilla extracts are made by adding ethanol as it helps extract the flavor from the beans.

If you opt for pure vanilla extract, make sure you add a couple of drops only, to avoid putting your infant at risk of alcohol poisoning.

You Should Avoid Imitation Vanilla Extract

Although it is tempting to opt for imitation vanilla extract to reduce cost, I recommend you stick to pure vanilla extract or vanilla flavoring.

That’s because imitation vanilla extract does not contain any real vanilla, and it is, infact, an imitation of the real deal!

Rather, imitation vanilla is made from oil from certain conifer trees or clove oil, then mixed with additives that give it the vanilla flavor.

Is Alcohol In Vanilla Extract Safe For Babies?

Alcohol in vanilla extract will not cause any harm to your baby if vanilla extract consumption is done in moderation. 

You should, however, keep bottles of vanilla extract out of reach of your child to avoid the risk of alcohol poisoning. 

In addition, cooking the food in which you added the vanilla extract will allow the alcohol to evaporate and completely eliminate any risk.

Adding Vanilla To Breast Milk With High Lipase

All breast milk contains lipase, but some women may produce a higher amount, causing the milk to change flavor.

This is especially the case when women express their milk and store it in cool temperatures.

As a result of these cold temperatures, the lipase makes the fats in expressed milk break down quicker, resulting in a change in flavor.

Although adding a tiny amount of vanilla to breast milk with high lipase can improve its flavor, make sure you first run the test below and consult your doctor for advice:

  1. Express some milk and check if the milk smells normal
  2. Store it in the refrigerator or freezer
  3. Wait one or two days
  4. Remove the milk from the refrigerator or freezer and check if its smell has changed

If your breast milk now smells soapy, it probably contains higher lipase than normal.

Adding 1 or 2 drops of vanilla extract to your breast milk can offset the “strange” taste.

Can You Add Vanilla Extract To Infant Formula?

Yes, you can add vanilla extract to baby formula if your infant is refusing to take the formula as it is. Vanilla extract is safe when using a couple of drops.

Make sure you opt for pure vanilla extract, rather than the cheap imitations that contain lots of additives.

Even better, if you want to avoid traces of alcohol, go for the alcohol-free version of vanilla extract, known as vanilla flavoring.

And if your baby has reached 6 months of age, you can substitute vanilla by simply letting your baby have maple syrup.

Is Vanilla Extract Safe For Teething Babies?

Vanilla has anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve teething ache in babies.

Simply rub a little bit of vanilla extract on your baby’s gums for an instant soothing effect.

Vanilla also has anti-bacterial properties, which can assist your child in fighting off germs.

Finally, according to spices expert David Vanille, vanilla aids digestion. And since teething babies tend to have upset stomachs, a little vanilla can help their tummies settle.


To recap:

Although babies can have vanilla extract, make sure you take the following into account:

  • Stick to a couple of drops only to avoid alcohol poisoning in your baby
  • Go for pure vanilla extract over imitation vanilla extract, as the latter contains lots of additives
  • For additional peace of mind, either cook the food containing vanilla extract or opt for vanilla flavoring to completely eliminate the risks that come with alcohol consumption