Essential oils are known to offer lots of health benefits. One such essential oil is eucalyptus oil which is often used as a home remedy to treat respiratory problems because of its antiseptic and antibacterial properties.
The many uses of eucalyptus oil may tempt you to use it on your baby who may be suffering from cold or congestion. But before you do so, it is important to understand if eucalyptus oil is safe for babies.
What is Eucalyptus Oil?
Eucalyptus oil is obtained from the leaves of eucalyptus trees. Eucalyptus oil is used in medicines, as a perfume, and also has some industrial uses. It is a colourless liquid and has a sweet and strong woody smell. More than 700 species of eucalyptus are found in the world, of which only 500 odd species produce the essential oil.
Are There Any Benefits of Using Eucalyptus Oil?
Eucalyptus oil is used as a natural therapy to treat pneumonia, bronchitis, cough, cold and other respiratory diseases.
It stimulates immunity too. It improves respiratory circulation and has antioxidant properties. Cineole present in eucalyptus oil is an organic compound that has a lot of medicinal benefits like reducing pain and inflammation.
Eucalyptus oil offers a cure for the following ailments:
- Cold and flu – The essential oil cleans the body of harmful microorganisms and the toxins that cause common cold and flu
- Nourishing the hair – Eucalyptus oil is used with olive and coconut oil to moisturise hair and treat dandruff and itchy scalp
- Allergies and home care- The oil helps treat sinus and allergies and is also used as a room freshener. It also kills germs because of its anti-microbial properties
Is Eucalyptus Oil Safe for Babies?
A common query among parents is whether eucalyptus oil is safe for babies. While it is true that eucalyptus oil has many beneficial properties, using eucalyptus oil for babies with colds may be unsafe because of many reasons:
- It may have very high cineole content which leads to breathing problems and nervous problems in young children. The amount of cineole is dependent on the chemotype or the species of the plant
- Even if the variety of essential oil you use does not have high cineole it may still have compounds that harm children. These compounds may cause irritation or a burning sensation on the baby’s skin
- Eucalyptus oil, if ingested, can lead to vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain, and other side effects like breathing problems and wheezing. Its application may also lead to extreme cases of coma and seizures
- This oil can also trigger an asthma attack in some babies
Using Eucalyptus Oil for a Baby’s Cold
If you do want to use eucalyptus oil on a baby’s blocked nose, it is important to know the right and safe way of using it.
How to Use Eucalyptus Oil for Babies Correctly?
You can use eucalyptus oil to soothe and open the airways of the baby’s nostrils if you take a few precautions.
- To use eucalyptus oil for baby cold, put two drops of the oil on a tissue or cotton ball and keep it at a distance from the baby
- For a blocked nose, add three drops of oil to a bowl of boiling water and place it under the baby’s crib. The rising steam releases the essential oil and gives the baby comfort
- The oil should not be applied near the child’s mouth or nose as it may cause respiratory problems
Although eucalyptus oil may be used with some precautions, it is still not recommended to treat colds in babies because of its side effects. Here are alternative methods you can use instead.
Alternatives to Eucalyptus Oil for Treating Baby’s Congestion
Instead of using any essential oil for treating baby congestion, one may follow other methods to give comfort to babies. These include the following:
A nasal aspirator can be used to clear mucus from the baby’s nose. It can also be used to clear the baby’s airways so that the child can breathe easily.
Hot water compress
This loosens the thick mucus that is blocking the nose, throat, or the baby’s chest. Use a small cotton cloth dipped in hot water and squeeze out the excess water. Apply the hot water compress on the affected area to give the baby some relief from congestion. The cloth should be mildly hot so that it does not burn the baby.
Important Things to Remember About Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil offers a number of benefits but it is not suitable for children, especially those younger than 10 years old. It may cause side effects, which could range from mild to severe. If you do use eucalyptus oil for your baby, and if the baby experiences any breathing difficulties after inhaling the oil, consult a doctor at once. Please totally refrain from using the oil for babies under two years of age.
Even small or diluted amounts of eucalyptus oil can lead to serious reactions in babies, and it is advisable to steer clear of it. Use one of the recommended alternative solutions to clear your baby’s congestion.