Are Essential Oils Essential for your Baby?
Updated: Feb 20, 2019
We've all seen many health fads come and go over the years, but essential oils have been used reliably and extensively in medicine for thousands of years. Essential oil therapy is defined as the medicinal use of naturally extracted plant aromas to promote physical and emotional well-being making this practice one that's here to stay.
Some essential oils can be used to help encourage sleep, calm anxiety, and even relieve symptoms of colic on babies older than 3 months. Before applying essential oils to babies, it’s important to understand proper dilution ratios and application methods. We have included a dilution chart for you to reference.
Because essential oils are widely available today, check product labels to make sure you’re using pure, authentic, unadulterated essential oils. Never apply essential oils directly to the skin, always mix them with a carrier oil or cream. Babies should never drink or ingest essential oils. It’s never safe for babies to take essential oils orally.
Not all oils are safe to use on babies. According to the NAHA, “some essential oils should simply be avoided using on babies such as birch or wintergreen, which are both rich in methyl salicylate and peppermint.” The following are essential oils that when diluted properly and blended with a carrier such as coconut oil, sweet almond or vegetable oil can be beneficial to your baby.
Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla or Chamaemelum nobile)
Gentle essential oils that can be beneficial for babies who have trouble sleeping.
Chamomile has natural soothing effects and is traditionally used to treat insomnia in babies and adults. Chamomile, along with lavender, can relieve symptoms of colic. Chamomile has also been shown to help anxiety.
Dill (Anethum sowa)
Dill is a calming, antispasmodic oil that can help soothe indigestion.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Calming and sedative effects, lavender oil massage can help to relax a fussy baby and encourage sleep. Lavender can also be used on insect bites and to reduce itchiness. A recent study shows lavender to be effective in alleviating the symptoms of colic.
Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
Tea tree is a natural antimicrobial, antifungal, and disinfectant. Adding a few drops of tea tree oil to an unscented oil can help with diaper rash and fungal infections.
Tea tree is a stronger oil that can be harsh on the skin, so it should be avoided on babies younger than 6 months old and carefully patch-tested on older infants.
Perform a patch test
Apply a small amount of diluted essential oil no larger than a dime size to a baby’s leg or arm. Wait for 24 hours to see if there is a reaction. If a reaction occurs, discontinue use. A reaction would likely constitute as redness, inflammation or be painful to the touch. If no reaction occurs, it’s likely safe to move forward with applying the essential oil. Even when diluted, essential oils can cause skin irritation and sun sensitivity. It’s recommended that a patch or spot test be performed on the skin with each new oil introduced.
Talk to a doctor
Because some essential oils shouldn’t be used with certain medications and medical conditions, always check with your doctor before applying therapeutic oils to your baby.
If you’re pregnant, talk to your doctor before using any essential oils on yourself or your baby.
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