Essential oil use for children: A safety guide for parents
Thinking of using essential oils for your baby, but not sure what to use? Read this guide on safe essential oils for baby right now.
The use of essential oils is popular among adults for the range of health benefits they bring. However, using essential oils on babies and older children has a completely different set of rules. The incorrect use of essential oils on little ones may have harmful health effects, This is why it’s so important that parents have a good understanding of safe essential oils for baby.
Health benefits of essential oils
The physical and psychological health benefits contained in a few drops of essentials oil are quite remarkable. As these easily pass through cell walls and membranes, therapeutic benefits are directly delivered where they are needed throughout the entire body.
Here are some of the most important health benefits of essential oils:
- Essential oils are used medicinally to kill bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Research shows that most viruses, fungi and bacteria cannot live in the presence of many essential oils.
- They can stimulate the regeneration of tissue or stimulate nerves. Therapeutic-grade essential oils can even act to oxygenate and carry nutrients into the cells.
- They aid in removing carbon dioxide, toxins and other wastes from the body.
- The aromas of the oils help balance electrical frequencies of the brain allowing it to function more optimally and efficiently.
- When inhaled, certain components of essential oils help release emotional trauma.
However, when choosing and using safe essential oils for baby and older kids, there are some rules and information all parents should follow and know.
Essential oils for children: A guide
First things first, when it comes to knowledge about safe essential oils for babies and kids.
According to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, you should not use essential oils on babies under the age of three months.
There are two reasons for this, say essential oil experts.
- Essential oils can affect a newborn’s sense of smell: One of the ways a newborn navigates his tiny world is through his sense of smell. Research confirms that newborns can recognise their mother’s scent, including that of breastmilk. So, anything that interferes with this — including essential oils — should be avoided as it may interfere with baby’s feeding.
- Essential oils may damage a newborn’s skin: A newborn’s skin is brand-new, and certainly much more delicate than an adult’s. As such, parents should be very selective about what they apply on their baby’s skin. Also keep in mind that essential oils are absorbed into the body through the skin.
However, once a child officially passes their newborn phase (three months), there are safe essential oils for baby that you can start using, always keeping safety in mind.
Essential safety tips to keep in mind
Before we tell you about the safe essential oils for baby, remember these important safety tips:
- Never apply undiluted essential oils straight on baby’s skin. Instead, dilute in a carrier oil first. Some examples of carrier oils are: sunflower, grapeseed and coconut oils. Experts suggest avoiding olive oil.
- The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) recommends diluting the essential oil to just 0.5 to 2.5 percent when it comes to babies.
- Do a patch test before applying the oil.
- Avoid using the following essential oils which are known skin irritants: thyme, oregano, citronella, cinnamon, bay, cumin, lemongrass, lemon verbena.
- Essential oils should never be fed to babies.
- You should keep essential oils away from a baby’s airway.
- Avoid using diffusers if your child has asthma.
Now that we’ve got past the important safety information, let’s move on to the types of oils that you can safely use on your baby, and the health benefits of these oils.
Safe essential oils for baby and how to use them
Here’s a list of safe essential oils for baby:
- Lavender: A 2016 study found that lavender oil may help treat pain in babies. Another studysuggested this oil could help ease colic.
- Chamomile: There are no studies on the efficacy of this oil. But those who use it swear by its calming properties and suggest a few drops be added to baby’s bath, or in a diffuser.
- Distilled lemon (citrus limon): Not to be confused with expressed lemon, distilled lemon is a great mood energizer. Try diffusing some as your baby wakes up to chase away those sleepy grumpies!
- Eucalyptus: This is an ideal essential oil for relieving stuffy noses. Add a drop or two to a warm bath, or diffuse it. Children and infants should use Eucalpytus radiata.
- Dill: This calming oil helps treat indigestion discomfort. Simply dilute one drop in a carrier oil, mix, then massage onto your baby’s skin.
- Mandarin: Similar to lavender, mandarin has a calming effect and a beautiful fragrance. Dilute and use in a massage, or diffuse.
There are three main ways you can use safe essential oils for baby.
1. In a massage
Baby massage can be done to relieve colic, or to soothe and relax your baby after a bath, in preparation for bedtime.
For colic relief: Using a very light touch, move your fingers around your baby’s navel. Experts suggest you do “two strokes upwards and two strokes across, above the navel. Then do two strokes down and one across the pelvis. Repeat for several rounds.”
A gentle oil to use is diluted lavender oil. Just one drop gently warmed between your hands will do.
For regular massage: Warm a drop or two of diluted lavender essential oil by rubbing it between your hands. Start at your baby’s legs and gently move up. When you reach baby’s tummy and chest, flatten your hands and make small circles with your fingers.
2. In baby’s bath
Just add a drop or two of your preferred essential oil into a warm bath.
3. In a diffuser
You can buy a diffuser from a store or online. Just make sure you use safe essential oils for baby only, and ventilate the room well. Also, follow the instructions.
The following oils are great for diffusion:
- Ylang Ylang
For a very detailed article on essential oils and babies, click this link.
*Note: Essential oils should NEVER replace medication if your child is sick. Speak to your paediatrician before essential oil use on your baby. Also, you should always consult with a doctor first at any sign of illness in your child before resorting to treatment at home.