Essential Oils for Infants and Children
- What Are Essential Oils?
- Which Essential Oils Are Safe for Kids?
- Things You Must Remember Before Using Essential Oils
- How to Use Essential Oils for Children – The Best Way of Application
- Benefits of Using Essential Oils for Babies
- Safety Tips on Using Essential Oils for Babies and Children
- Essential Oils to Avoid
There are many varieties of essential oils that cater to various needs of the human body. Most of them have a reputation for 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 babies as some oils are known to provide a calming effect on 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. The pure extracts are obtained either by a mechanical method or by distillation and then mixed in a carrier oil. The final product, the essential oils are usually aromatic and visibly clear. Most of the essential oils available in the market are known to have therapeutic properties. With a little bit of caution, these oils can be safely used for adults as well as kids older than two years of age.
Which Essential Oils Are Safe for Kids?
As mentioned earlier, not all essential oils are safe for children. If you would like to use essential oils on your child, you may go for the ones on the list below. However, bear in mind that these oils are not at all suitable for babies under 2 years of age. Also, parents need to take extreme caution when using it for children between 2 to 10 years old. We shall talk a little more about these oils in the article below. Be sure to read it thoroughly and check with a peadiatrician before using any of the oils.
- Tea-Tree Oil
The anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties of this oil can help cure cuts, burns or even act as an effective repellent for bugs and mosquitoes.
- Peppermint Oil
This strong oil needs to be diluted well before use. It can ease indigestion and instances of irritable bowel syndrome in children. It can also be used for muscle pain, colds and rashes caused by allergies. However, it is not safe for kids below 10 years of age as it can cause unknown hypersensitivity reactions and hives.
- Rose Otto Oil
This popular oil is known to treat asthma and hay fever effectively. It is anti-inflammatory and can be used to treat seasonal allergies as well. Parents must remember that this oil is not safe for kids below 5 years of age.
- Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil is not safe for kids less than 10 years old as it can cause rash, hives and respiratory problems. It can be used for kids over 10 years old, but with caution. The oil is known for its ability to treat respiratory disorders and congestion. It can be a good remedy for bronchitis, tuberculosis, respiratory tract infections, etc. It also has anti-viral properties and is highly effective to treat fevers in children.
- Lavender Oil
Lavender essential oil can relieve stress and exhaustion in kids and promote good sleep. Its anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties make it effective in treating sunburns and cuts as well. Lavender oil can only be used in kids above 5 years of age.
- Frankincense Oil
This oil can be used for kids above 2 years of age to moisturise the skin and prevent dryness and scaling. 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
John’s Wort oil has anti-bacterial properties that make it a good remedy for ear infections, minor burns, and scars. This oil can also be used to soothe nervousness and needs to be used with caution in kids.
- Sandalwood Oil
This antiseptic oil can be ideal for treating cuts, sores and boils. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that promote healthy digestion; however, ingesting this is not safe for kids. 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, calm the baby, and help him/her sleep well. The oil also has anti-inflammatory properties that can improve digestion and help treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The oil can cure mild skin and ear infections too. But, the oil must be used with caution for kids under a year.
- Thieves Oil
A good immunity booster, thieves oil can aid fast recovery if your baby is sick. You can simply rub some diluted oil on the baby’s feet to pace up his healing. It is also a good remedy for nasal congestions. Parents must remember that the oil cannot be ingested and is not safe for kids less than 2 years old.
- Cedarwood Oil
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. When used for therapeutic purposes, cedarwood oil can help increase concentration, decrease stress and calm hyperactive babies.
- Blue Tansy Oil
Rich in anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, this oil can effectively shield children from infections and bug bites. Its anti-inflammatory properties help in avoiding digestive and respiratory disorders. It is also known to promote skin health and can be used on itchy skin, burned skin and chickenpox 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 that make it ideal for treating cuts and wounds in kids, as well as prevent severe hair fall.
- Copaiba Oil
This oil is known for its immunity-boosting qualities, can prevent infections, and provide relief from severe pain. Copaiba oil can also improve the skin condition by removing rashes, blisters, and pimples. The oil has a product called cicatrizant which can heal injuries faster.
Things You Must Remember Before Using Essential Oils
Essential oils are pure extracts and can be extremely strong; hence, there are a few things you must bear in mind before using them.
- Always Dilute Essential Oils – Essential oils should always be used on children only after dilution. The oils are generally very potent and can be absorbed easily by the baby’s thin skin. Diluting them will ensure that the baby gets only what is required for healing without causing side effects. However, if you do notice side effects, you must take your baby to the paediatrician immediately.
- Do Not Use Essential Oils for Newborn Babies – It is not recommended to use any essential oil on babies under 2 years of age. Their soft skins may not be able to tolerate even the diluted essential oils and could show signs of irritation immediately. Any oil, if absorbed by the baby, could also lead to serious health issues. Also, for older kids, you must use essential oils only if they recommended by the paediatrician.
- The concentration of the Oil – You can use 0.5 to 1 percent concentration of the oil for children older than 2 years of age, which roughly equals to about a drop of essential oil added to a tablespoon of carrier oil.
- Patch Test – Always carry out a patch test because the oils may cause irritation on the skin even when they are diluted. Here’s how you can carry a patch test out:
- Apply a very small amount of diluted essential oil on your baby’s skin on the inside of the leg or the arm.
- Wait for about 24 hours and check for any signs of irritation, redness or inflammation on the skin.
- If you notice a reaction, stop using that particular oil. If your baby has no reactions, then you can proceed using the oil in diluted form.
How to Use Essential Oils for Children – The Best Way 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.
Carrier oils that you can blend essential oils in include vegetable oils, sunflower oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, etc. The ration of essential oil is to be maintained as per the instructions given above. So, a tiny little drop of any essential oil in a tablespoon of career oil should do the trick. If you want to dilute it further, just add some more carrier oil. 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.
Benefits of Using Essential Oils for Babies
There are several benefits that essential oils can offer to babies when used the right way. For all the benefits given below, one thing parents must keep in mind is that none of the oils can be ingested and it is not safe to use them below 2 years of age. Between 2 to 10 years, use the oils with caution and only if they are recommended by a paediatrician.
- Colic: Essential oils like mandarin (citrus) and Roman chamomile can help relieve colic, which leads to uncontrollable crying in babies. Applying diluted forms of one of these essential oils on the stomach and the back can help soothe babies.
- Common Cold: Cedarwood, lemon and sandalwood, are some of the essential oils that have antiviral properties. Thus they could be extremely beneficial when your baby has a cold. Apply diluted essential oil on the neck and the chest for some relief from cold.
- 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. Diluted sandalwood and rosewood essential oils can help moisturise the skin.
- Fever: You can rub some diluted lavender oil on your baby’s neck, feet, or behind the ear to provide relief from fever. Eucalyptus oil is also known to help bring down the fever in babies.
- Rashes: Rashes are common in babies due to the sensitive nature of their skin. Use diluted 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 aid faster recovery from jaundice.
- Respiratory Aid: A combination of diluted lavender and frankincense oil can be helpful in relieving congestion, heaviness in the chest and breathing difficulties.
Safety Tips on Using Essential Oils for Babies and Children
Essential oils need to be used with proper care and precautions to avoid any risks. Here are some safety tips that will help you make the most of the health benefits these fragrant oils offer.
- 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.
- To prevent accidental ingestion, you must keep essential oils at a place where your children cannot reach on their own.
- Ensure that you buy essential oils of good quality and from a trusted brand.
- Do not use expired essential oils.
- 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
Here are some oils that should never be used for children:
- Chaste Tree
1. Is eucalyptus oil safe for kids?
When used in a diluted form, and in the right ratio (as mentioned in the article above), eucalyptus oil is safe for kids over 10 years old. If you have any inhibitions, you may use gentler oils on younger babies and save eucalyptus oil for until they are older.
2. Is peppermint oil safe for children?
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 to the bottom of the feet.
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 suitable for your child at a specific age. It is, therefore, recommended that you have a discussion with a paediatrician to know the best kid-friendly essential oils that are ideal for your little one.
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Also Read: Eucalyptus Oil for Your Baby