There are many varieties of essential oils that cater to various needs of the human body. Most of them have a reputation of promoting general health in people. Many parents prefer using these oils on babies, especially during winter, when the weather may be harsh on the skin. Many parents also use these oils to calm their baby as some oils are known to offer relaxation and peace to kids. Others use them as quick remedies for certain illnesses and diseases.
However, not all essential oils may be safe to use on your baby. It is best to understand the effect these oils can have on your baby before you resort to using them. Also, you will need to check with your doctor if your baby can be exposed to these oils to prevent any future complications.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are pure extracts of seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants.They are usually aromatic and are visibly clear. Most of these oils are known to be therapeutic for kids, both physically and psychologically.
Which Essential Oils Are Safe for Kids?
If you would like to use essential oils on your child, you can prefer the ones on the list below, which are safe for kids. Many essential oils are safe for babies, here are a few of them.
- Tea-Tree Oil
The anti-fungal and the anti-bacterial properties of this oil can help cure cuts, burns or even act as an effective repellent for bugs and mosquitos
- Peppermint Oil
This strong oil needs to be diluted well before use. It can ease indigestion and instances of an irritable bowel syndrome in children. It can also be used for muscle pain, colds and rashes caused by allergies.
- Rose Otto Oil
This popular oil is known to treat asthma and hay fever effectively. It is anti-inflammatory, which can be used to treat seasonal allergies.
- Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil is known for its ability to treat respiratory disorders and congestions. It can be a good remedy for bronchitis, tuberculosis, respiratory tract infections, etc. It also has anti-viral properties and is known to cool high-temperatures during fevers.
- Lavender Oil
Lavender essential oil can relieve stress and exhaustion in kids and promote good sleep. It’s anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties make it effective in treating sunburns and cuts as well.
- Citrus Oil
Citrus oils extracted out of fruits like grapefruit, orange, tangerine, etc, are natural mood uplifting agents. These can successfully calm children when they are over stimulated.
- Frankincense Oil
This oil can be used to moisture the skin and prevent dry, scaly skin in children. Since it can help in cell regeneration, it can keep the tissues healthy and also facilitate the recovery of wounds and cuts.
- John’s Wort Oil
Its anti-bacterial properties make it a good remedy for children in the event of an ear infection. It can also be used to soothe nervousness.
- Sandalwood Oil
This antiseptic oil can be ideal to treat cuts, sores and boils. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that promote healthy digestion. Sandalwood oil can also promote the functioning of the nervous and the circulatory systems in the body.
- Chamomile Oil
A few drops of Chamomile essential oil in the baby’s bath can relieve pain and calm the baby, offering good sleep. Its anti-inflammatory properties help treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The oil can cure mild infections on the skin as well as the ear
- Thieves Oil
A good immunity booster, thieves oil can aid fast recovery if your baby is sick. You can simply rub the diluted oil on the baby’s feet. It can also be applied to soothe teething gums.
- Cedarwood Oil
Given to children in the form of a tonic, cedarwood oil is known as an overall health promoter. It also has astringent and antiseptic properties that can heal cuts, wounds and other bruises effectively. It can also be used for dandruff, acne and dermatitis.
- Blue Tansy Oil
Rich in antiviral and antibacterial properties, this oil can effectively shield children from infections and bug bites. Its anti-inflammatory properties help to avoid digestive and respiratory disorders. It is also known to promote skin health and can be used on itchy skin, burned skin and chicken pox spots.
- Cypress Oil
Cypress oil is an effective aid for respiratory diseases and can offer relief to children suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD) and asthma. It also has antiseptic and astringent properties making it ideal to treat cuts and wounds in kids, as well as prevent severe hair fall.
- Copaiba Oil
This oil is known to boost the immunity of the child and can prevent infection, as well as provide relief from severe pain. It can also improve the skin condition by removing marks made by rashes, blisters, and pimples. The oil can also help injuries heal faster as it contains a product called cicatrizant.
Essential oils are pure extracts and can be extremely strong; hence, they should always be used on children only after dilution. It is not recommended to use any essential oils on babies under 3 months. You can use 0.5 to 1 percent concentration of the oil for children older than 3 months.
Even when essential oils are diluted with a carrier oil, they may cause irritation on the skin, especially in children. Hence, a patch test needs to be performed on children before using any essential oil.
- Patch Test
A simple patch test can give you an understanding of how your baby will react to the oil.
- Apply a very small amount of diluted essential oil on your baby’s skin on the leg or on the arm.
- Wait for about 24 hours and check for any signs of irritation, redness or inflammation of the skin.
- If you notice a reaction, stop using that particular oil. If your baby has no reactions, then you can proceed using that oil
Suggested Ways of Application
Oral administration of essential oil, even in its diluted form, is not recommended for children. Even while using it externally, it needs to be diluted properly to prevent any reaction.
You can try the following techniques to use essential oils safely and effectively; however, ensure that you follow the right ratio of dilution.
- Blend With a Carrier
Carrier oils that you can blend essential oils with include vegetable oils, sunflower oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, etc. These base oils need to be mixed with essential oil at a 0.5 percent ratio. Before using this oil on your baby’s skin, perform a patch test to rule out any possibility of negative reactions.
Ensure that you check for allergens in the base oil as peanut oil is known to be commonly mixed in some base oils.
You can get aromatic essential oils for babies and spritz the diluted essential oil around the baby’s room to create a fragrance that can calm your baby. Do not spray it on the baby’s pillow as this may increase the risk of ingestion.
Essential oils can be used as natural room fresheners through diffusing. While candle diffusers work well for adults, you will need to take proper precautions while diffusing essential oils around your baby. You can use a vaporiser too. You will also need to use a small amount initially in the vaporizer for about an hour to see if your baby has any negative reaction.
There are several benefits that essential oils can offer to babies when used the right way.
- Colic: Essential oils like mandarin (citrus) andRoman chamomile can help relieve colic which leads to uncontrollable crying in babies. Applying it on the stomach and the back can help soothe babies.
- Common cold: Cedarwood, lemon and sandalwood, are some of the essential oils for babies with cold which have antiviral properties that can help provide relief from cold. Apply diluted essential oil on the neck and on the chest.
- Constipation: When massaged on the stomach and the feet, essential oils like mandarin, ginger, and blue tansy can help in improving digestive health.
- Diaper rash: Diaper rashes can irritate babies a lot. Diluted essential oils like lavender and copaiba oil can be applied to the problem area for quick relief.
- Dry or flaky skin: Dry skin in babies can cause itching and discomfort. Sandalwood and rosewood essential oil when applied after dilution can help moisturize the skin.
- Fever: You can use lavender oil on your baby’s neck, feet, or behind the ear to provide relief from fever. Eucalyptus oil is also known to cool fever in babies.
- Hiccups: Constant hiccups can be prevented by using a vaporiser to diffuse mandarin oil.
- Flu: Oils like cypress, lemon, etc, that are rich in antiviral properties can be added to your baby’s bath or diffused in your baby’s room to treat flu.
- Rashes: Rashes are common in babies due to the sensitive nature of their skin. Use rose otto, sandalwood, Roman chamomile, copaiba or lavender oils to heal rashes in babies.
- Jaundice: Lemon or mandarin essential oils can be diluted and applied around the liver area over the child’s skin to help treat jaundice.
- Teething: Teething causes a lot of pain and discomfort to babies. You can use diluted thieves, lavender or Roman chamomile oil on gums to relieve teething pain.
- Respiratory aid: A combination of diluted lavender and frankincense oil can be helpful in relieving a tight chest or heavy breathing.
Safety Tips for Babies & Children
Essential oils need to be used with proper care and precautions to avoid any risks.
- Always use a carrier oil to blend the essential oil before use. When blended with a base oil like coconut or almond, it can prevent the risk of severe irritation on your baby’s skin.
- Never allow children below 10 years of age ingest essential oils. Ingestion of strong essential oils like peppermint may cause a sudden blockage in the heart and lungs.
- You must keep essential oils out of the reach of your child to prevent accidental ingestion.
- Ensure that you buy essential oils of good quality from a trusted brand.
- Do not expose children to direct sunlight after using essential oils like citrus oils, as it can cause severe irritation, rash or pigmentation on the skin.
- Do not use adulterated or synthetic essential oils.
Essential Oils to Avoid
Children, especially infants have very sensitive skins; hence it is recommended to ensure the safety of the essential oil before it is used on babies. Here are a few, of the many essential oils that are not safe to use on kids and should be avoided.
Certain oils that should be avoided for topical application on children below 2 years are:
- Ylang Ylang
- Tea tree
- Tree Moss
- Tea leaf
- Black Seed
- Ginger Lily
Some oils that should be avoided on all routes in children include:
- Chaste Tree
Is Eucalyptus Oil Safe for Kids?
When used in a diluted form, in the right ratio, Eucalyptus oil is very safe for kids. If you have any inhibitions, you may use gentler oils on younger babies and save Eucalyptus oil for until they are older.
Is Peppermint Oil Safe for the Child?
While properly diluted peppermint oil is considered safe for use in babies over 2 years of age, it is best to restrict the use of this oil only on the bottom of the feet.
Are Oils Safe to Diffuse for Babies?
Diffusing gentle oils like lavender, lemon or frankincense is safe for babies as it is easier on their respiratory systems.
Can I Use a Diffuser in the Baby’s Room?
Yes, you can use a diffuser in your baby’s room. However, make sure that the baby’s room is well ventilated to avoid concentration of the oil in the room. If you find that oil is potent, then you will need to lower the quantity being used.
Essential oils come with a host of benefits for everyone. However, due to their strong concentration, there are many essential oils that may not be best for your child at a specific age. It is best to ensure that you have a discussion with your baby’s doctor about which are the best kid-friendly essential oils that are ideal for your little one. Also get the directions of usage as not all oils can be used on all routes.