Using Essential Oils with Your BabyI've shared before that I shied away from essential oils when both of my little ones were born. With my eldest son, I waited until he was two-and-a-half before using them, and my daughter didn't experience essential oils until she was eight months old. I think I was definitely overly cautious, especially with my son, and I'm so glad I have a little bit of education and experience under my belt so that I can be comfortable using essential oils with and near my baby! I love being able to impart a little extra soothing to her skin and emotions with aromatherapy. She seems to love the scents and I've seen the health and emotional benefits for her first hand.
I think a cautious, balanced approach is what works best with babies: Don't abandon your oils or use them without restraint. If you aren't comfortable with using essential oils on your baby, it's ok to wait until you are. Make informed decisions and follow your mommy intuition. And pick up a book written by an aromatherapist on the subject!
My favorite is Debra Raybern's Gentle Babies. (The title is inspired by the blend made by Young Living called Gentle Baby.) She's a Christian aromatherapist with lots of experience and knowledge and I think she has a great perspective and fantastic advise for not only pregnancy and childbirth, but also for infants and young children. It's a must-have! And a lot of the basics I'm sharing with you today come from her. Please pick up a copy, and you'll have a lot more confidence in using your oils with a baby! (No, I'm not making any money for this endorsement.)
Here are a few basic tips that I've picked up on safely using essential oils with a baby.
Babies have tiny, pure, brand-new bodies and extremely delicate skin. They feel the effects of essential oils and respond to them more easily than an adult does.
- Always dilute the oil! Read my dilution guide here, which includes the right amount for babies. You can always go under 1% if that makes you more comfortable.
- Hold the oil over her skin. I love Debra Raybern's suggestion to rub a diluted EO on your own hands and hold your hands over your child's chest, back, or feet for a minute. You can then touch the oils to her skin, assuming she's showing no signs of irritation. I did this when my daughter was coughing and I was desperate to calm her. I held lavender, which is a gentle antispasmodic, (neat) over her chest because it was all I had on hand. I didn't want to place the oil directly on her skin, as it wasn't diluted.
- Apply to the baby's feet. This is recommended because it reduces the risk of skin irritation, but it's also effective for skin absorption.
- Don't use in a bath. The risk of the baby splashing essential oils into her eyes is just too great. Instead, apply a homemade baby oil (a carrier + EO) to her skin after the bath. It will be just as soothing and, of course, it will smell amazing!
- Diffuse gently. When introducing your baby to a new oil, diffusing is a great way to go! Add 2-4 drops to your cold-air diffuser for about 10-15 minutes, watching your baby for any (unlikely) adverse effects. After you've done this once a day for a couple of days, feel free to add a few more drops to the mix and to diffuse 15 minutes twice per day. I like setting a timer because otherwise I'd be tempted to diffuse oils all day long. (And, by the way, Young Living has the most charming ultrasonic diffusers for kiddos I've ever seen! They include colorful nightlights, an intermittent setting and auto shut-off in a dolphin or dinosaur motif.)
- Wear the oil on yourself first. Allow your baby to inhale the essential oil through a diluted application on your skin while you hold him close. This is a wonderful and gentle way to introduce the oil to the baby.
Essential Oils for Babies
Start out by introducing single oils (not blends) to your baby one at a time. Once she is accustomed to essential oils, some blends to try include Gentle Baby (my favorite!), Peace and Calming, and Joy.
A few oils that are generally regarded as safe for little ones include:
- Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): a fantastic swiss-army-knife of essential oils that young ones tend to love (my son's favorite!); great for sleep and comfort, lots of beneficial properties for health and skin as well
- Orange (Citrus sinensis): a delightfully sweet oil that has childhood written all over it, great for uplifting mood and calming, as well as digestive support; another wonderful multipurpose oil
- Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica): calming and grounding, a gentle bass note that works well with citrus oils, beneficial during fall and winter months
- Frankincense (Boswellia carterii): wonderful for soothing a fearful baby, fantastic for skin, lungs, and respiratory support
- Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile): soothing for bedtimes and fussing, tummy troubles, and teething
- Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata): uplifting when your baby is frustrated, colicky, or over tired
- Lemon (Citrus limon): general immune support and pH balancing, lemon has a cheerful scent, but don't apply to her skin and take her out in the sun (it's phototoxic!)
- Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens): a lovely floral scent, helpful for cradle cap (when diluted), and skin irritations
SAFETY TIPS & NOTESLess is more. It doesn't take much at all for an EO to impact a little one. Always start out very small...and stay there if that's what works. Also be aware of what you're using on yourself or diffusing in your home with your little one. Stick to a gentle approach, because your baby will inhale what you wear and use in your home.
Some oils to avoid with babies include: Eucalyptus (globulus and radiata), Juniper, Basil, Peppermint, Wintergreen, Sage, Clary Sage, Fennel, Hyssop, and Idaho Tansy.
Never give oils by mouth to your baby. Keep them out of reach of your kids. Check out my post on Essential Oil safety for more information on what oils to avoid, and safety precautions specific to children, pregnancy, and breastfeeding.
A note about my advice: I'm not a certified aromatherapist (yet), or a doctor, and I think every mom should make her own choice about what to use, at what age, and for what circumstances. Learn what you can about each oil that you use, and approach little ones with lots of care and caution too.
Gentle Babies, Debra Raybern
Essential Oils in the Nursery, Young Living blog