Essential Oils for Babies: Which Ones are Safe, How to Use Them, and Recommendations from Professionals
Caring for babies, if they’re sick or not, is a sensitive task. Little ones require a different way of care.
Most babies can easily get rashes and other negative side effects when they receive medication or treatment not proven to be safe for them. With that in mind, you should not self-medicate your little ones.
There are, however, natural remedies that can soothe your baby’s condition. These remedies have been in use since ancient times and are more effective than synthetic remedies. They are proven effective in addressing several health issues and bring a level of comfort to the human body.
Why People Use Essential Oils Today
Essential oils have piqued public interest now as more people look into natural ways of healing themselves and ridding their homes from toxins.
Aromatherapy is used by many and recommended by health professionals due to its properties that help people feel relaxed, uplift their spirits, and be at ease. There are also several studies proving that these oils contain properties effective in alleviating symptoms and non-chronic diseases like headaches, skin itching, and fever.
In using essential oils for babies, extreme caution must be practiced. Infants are known to react differently to substances and drugs in general. Because of that, there is a need to consult your pediatrician or medical professional on whether using essential oils is safe for your little one in particular.
To give you an idea of essential oils commonly used for babies, here are some that are recommended by pediatricians and alternative medicine professionals:
- Tea tree
Essential Oils For Babies
An herb that’s part of the Asteraceae/Compositae family, chamomile, particularly its dried variant, contains terpenoids and flavonoids, which contributes to the medicinal properties of this flower.
It has been used through the years for various diseases and symptoms. This essential oil is commonly used to treat hay fever, inflammation, and gastrointestinal disorders among many others. (1)
For babies, chamomile is used to treat sleeping problems like insomnia. It is also been proven effective in relieving symptoms of colic when combined with another essential oil – lavender. The essential oil is also effective for babies whose mood need some uplifting.
How to use:
- Use in air diffusers.
- Add a few drops of it into the diffuser is enough to create a relaxed environment to calm your baby.
- Add to your baby’s bath so that he/she can benefit from its calming effect.
Lavender was found to be effective in treating infantile colic. Cetinkaya and his colleagues observed 40 infants with a gestational age of 38-42 weeks old. These babies were divided into two groups, with one group receiving massages that made use of lavender oil. Both groups were observed once a week. They concluded that lavender oil can reduce symptoms associated with infantile colic. (2)
This essential oil is also found to have both calming and sedative effects. Many also use it to reduce itchiness associated with insect bites.
How to use:
- Use on babies for massaging.
- Rub the oil on the baby’s skin.
This release its therapeutic properties and also helps to strengthen the bond between parent and child through touch therapy. (3)
3. Citronella Essential Oil
Citronella comes from the Cymbopogon grouping of plants commonly found in the island of Java. It was found to be effective in expelling worms and other parasites in the intestines, to increase appetite, and control muscle spasms.
This essential oil is commonly used as an insect repellant. It is perfect for parents looking for a natural alternative to insect repellants made out of chemicals. Several studies were conducted showing its effectiveness in keeping mosquitoes and other insects at bay. However, there are some public health agencies recommending that it is more dependable if people turn to prophylaxis first and use essential oils like citronella as a defense against mosquito-borne diseases like malaria and dengue fever.
How to use:
- Rub on like an insect repellant.
- Place into a spray bottle with a carrier oil and use it as a spray-on insect repellent.
Citronella is commonly incorporated in products that comes with DEET (N,N-diethyl-3-methylben-zamide). It could be an ingredient in a mosquito spray, a repellant patch, or as an essential oil in an air diffuser.
4. Tea Tree Essential Oil
Tea tree oil is extracted from a plant most common in Australia. It was first used by medical professionals as a treatment for wound infections. In one study, researchers found it is effective as a treatment for mild to moderate acne, as well as treating symptoms associated with fungi.
For babies, tea tree oil is effective in getting rid of diaper rash and fungal infections. Because of the oil’s strength, precautions should be taken when it comes to the age of your baby and when you’ll use it on their skin.
There are reports that this essential oil can be harsh on some babies’skin. Therefore, it should be only used for little ones aged 6 months and above and be patch-tested before use.
How to use:
- Apply directly to your baby’s skin.
- Use two to four drops of this essential oil to cover the problem area/s in your baby’s skin.
Remember, you do not need a lot of this oil. A little bit goes a very long way.
Eucalyptus is most useful during the cold months. This essential oil is effective against respiratory disorders. Banerjee and Bellare found that low doses of eucalyptus oil were capable of flushing congestion in the respiratory system.
Parents who are self-medicating should be aware of the different kinds of eucalyptus. Eucalyptus Radiata is most commonly prescribed to children and infants while its sister kind, eucalyptus globulus, is commonly used by adults but not fit for consumption by babies. This is a very important distinction.
How to use:
- Consult your physician for proper dosage amount.
- Give to baby orally according to instructions from your pediatrician or alternative medicine professional.
Things to Keep in Mind
As I have been saying throughout this article, extreme caution must be observed in using essential oils and other natural remedies on babies. One wrong self-medicated move can lead to unwanted consequences. Such consequences can significantly impact your baby’s health for the long term.
Because of that, there are recommendations released by various health organizations on the use of essential oils and other alternative medicinal solutions.
The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) issued this guidance to parents using essential oils on their babies and medical professionals prescribing their use. The organization highlighted factors that influence the use of essential oil on your babies, and even adults.
- Quality – you should check whether the essential oil you have is unadulterated. Contaminated oil can cause more harm than good on your little one.
- Chemical composition – this is the factor that you need to check next. Essential oils are composed of several chemicals. Even though they are natural, each of them might cause adverse effects on your baby. For example, oils rich in aldehydes like citronella and phenols like eugenol may cause skin irritations and other reactions.
- Method of application – every essential oil is applied differently. There are some that are best used with air diffusers, some are active ingredients in medicine like cough syrups, and some are applied directly to the skin. Each of these methods of application come with instructions that need to be considered before use. It is especially important when using essential oils for babies.
- Age – infants and children are most sensitive to treatments. Essential oils must be used with great caution. There are some oils that must be used after being prescribed by your medical professional. Ask them before you use the essential oils on your baby.
After knowing all those things, the most important knowledge is about precaution and the aftermath of using essential oils for your babies. It allows you to take advantage of the essential oils without sacrificing or worrying about their adverse side effects.
One example is that from The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. Most use essential oil, like chamomile or lavender, to help babies calm and sleep comfortably and longer.
The Association recommended not using essential oils for children aged 3 months old and below. They explained that while it is effective in helping keep children calm, it might cause unwanted effects on their skin and overall health.
Some essential oils are also toxic. Dr. Justin Loden of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Tennessee Poison Center said all essential oils are toxic. He emphasized the rule of thumb in toxicity is the dose makes the poison.
He shared that essential oil toxicity in babies commonly happens through the excessive or inappropriate application of these oils. He added babies, toddlers, and children are most prone to toxicity coming from essential oils due to their thin skin and its ability to easily absorb. That is why dosage levels are so key when using essential oils for your baby.
Should You Use Essential Oils?
Yes, even for babies. Essential oils have proven beneficial in treating various health issues, especially for babies. It is a natural method of treating you and your baby’s body.
Essential oils come from various sources and have been used since the early days of medicine. Many of these natural remedies have been proven to be effective in treating health issues including respiratory congestion, skin problems, and relax the mind. All these are reasons behind the re-emergence of using essential oils for aromatherapy and other natural medicine applications.
Consulting with a professional will ensure that you are using essential oils properly. With a proper prescription from an expert, you can be comforted that your little one will not suffer the consequences of using an essential oil not suitable to his/her condition. Working with them also allows you to know in advance negative side effects so that you can watch out for any while using essential oils for your baby.
Download your FREE Essential Oils Quick Reference Guide
Get instant access to your Essential Oils Quick Reference Guide.