If you’ve ever used essential oils, you know how great they are. With a few whiffs of an essential oil like lavender or thyme, you can relax and fall asleep faster. Plus, oils like peppermint are perfect for a soothing massage. If you’re already using essential oils in your life for a variety of reasons, you’re probably wondering is aromatherapy suitable for your baby too?
Many parents don’t know if they should practice aromatherapy for babies. The answer isn’t black and white. In general, yes, you can use essential oils to help them fall asleep or to reduce pain, stress, upset stomach and so on. However, before you do so, like with anything, it’s best to be informed. Kids, and babies, in particular, are very sensitive, and whenever you introduce them to something new, like essential oils, as a parent, you should do your research.
Essential oils are strong extracts from the flowers, seeds, leaves, bark, roots or peel of a plant. The market is abundant with synthetic fragrances that are sold as natural essential oils. Make sure to learn where the essential oil comes from. Also, you can’t just get any essential oil you yourself would use. There are some gentle oils suitable for aromatherapy for babies and kids which are proven to be safe and effective when used right.
When a baby arrives in the home, it’s natural that parents want everything to be safe. So, before you use essential oils for kids, you should know a few things first to make sure you’re not putting your little one in danger. Before you buy any essential oils, make sure you talk to your baby’s healthcare provider. They would tell you when’s the right time to begin with aromatherapy for babies, what oils are best and of course how much you can use.
But even if you get the green light to use aromatherapy on your baby, it’s best to test first how your baby will react to it. For instance, you can apply a little amount of lavender essential oils on your skin. The baby would feel this scent when you hold them. If they cry, go into a sneezing fit or show any signs of discomfort, it’s best to avoid using this oil on them. Keep in mind that defusing before using it topically is a great way to start. Use a small amount (less than you’d use for yourself)
By any means, babies shouldn’t ingest essential oils. And don’t perform aromatherapy on a premature baby in the first months. In general, parents shouldn’t use essential oils until at least three months after the due date. Here are some other safety steps to remember:
Proper Dilution Is Important
Even if you use the oil for yourself, you should dilute it first. Essential oils have a strong concentration of active ingredients, so the dilution process is a must if you want to use them for your little one. For babies (ages 0-1), it’s recommended to use 8 drops of carrier oil to 1 drop of essential oil. Jojoba and coconut oil are excellent carrier oil options for babies.
Do a Patch Test
Before you use an essential oil topically, do a patch test. Use a small amount (about a dime) of dilluted essential oil on your baby’s leg or arm. Wait for 24 hours to see if there’s any reaction. If there’s reaction, cease to use the oil. Possible reactions are redness, painful to the touch (your baby would cry when you touch the spot) and inflammation. In case there is no reaction, proceed with the use.
Methods of Application
There are various ways your baby can get the benefits of essential oils.
Before you start, warm a small amount of the diluted oil by rubbing it in your palms. Gently rub the oil into your baby’s skin (start with the legs first). Don’t put too much pressure. Next, move to the baby’s belly and chest. Gently spread your hands towards the sides of the child. Make small circles with your fingers. For babies aged 3 months-24 months, it’s best to use a dosage of 0.25%-0.5% of oil for massage.
In the Bathwater
You can add a few drops of lavender or chamomile oil in the bathwater. The scent can help soothe and calm the baby, and afterwards, the child will fall asleep quickly and easily.
Use a Diffuser at Bedtime
Using a diffuser is a great way to spread the aroma of the essential oil into the air. It’s also the safest method of application for little ones. Some diffusers have coloured lights to create an even cosier atmosphere to help the child fall asleep faster.
Besides a diffuser, you can spray some of the diluted essential oil in the baby’s nursery. The scent would create a relaxing atmosphere before bedtime. However, avoid spritzing your baby’s pillow or blankets, and be sure that the child doesn’t accidentally ingest the oils.
Best Essential Oils for Babies
For starters, it’s best to pick a gentle essential oil with a pleasant scent that the baby is more likely to tolerate. Chamomile is an aroma commonly used in many baby products from shampoo to wet wipes. That being said, an essential oil from this herb is a great way to introduce your baby to aromatherapy. You can add a few drops of chamomile oil to a warm bath or in a diffuser to help your baby relax and calm down.
Lavender is another oil that your baby would probably like. This oil is also excellent to treat pain in babies. According to a study, aromatherapy with this oil can reduce colic symptoms. It’s also known for its soothing abilities and improving sleep, which is why it’s widely used before bedtime.
However, some essential oils aren’t meant for babies. For instance, wintergreen or birch are rich in methyl salicylate which is a harsh compound. Also, peppermint oil isn’t suitable for children younger than 5.