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Parents have the challenging task of keeping their children safe and healthy. Many times, they may resort to other ways of healing which could induce allergies or even cause life-threatening ailments. They may even fall back on essential oils for common colds, nausea, indigestion, etc. One essential oil which people swear by to tackle these health issues is peppermint oil. Although the oil does have some health benefits, it may not be fit to use for babies as it could pose a certain degree of concern, with regards to their health and safety.
Thus, parents should exercise extreme caution and care when using peppermint oil for babies as its concentrated form can be life-threatening. However, if a medical practitioner permits the use of peppermint oil, it should be used in a highly diluted form than what is recommended for adults. Let’s dive deep into the topic and find out if peppermint oil can be used for babies and under what conditions it is safe to do so.
What Is Peppermint Oil?
Peppermint oil is an essential oil that is extracted from the peppermint plant using a process called distillation. The oil is considered an effective cure for digestive issues, respiratory problems, and sinusitis. It also supports the health of the nervous system, muscles, and joints. Peppermint oil has a characteristic fragrance and also a cooling and tingling effect when applied on the skin. The oil is also used for flavouring foods and beverages.
Should You Use Peppermint Oil for Babies’ Needs?
Even though peppermint oil offers many health benefits, it could be dangerous for babies. Accidental ingestion of the oil can be toxic for an infant. Direct and undiluted application of the oil can cause inflammation, itchiness or possible skin reactions. If you are wondering if peppermint oil is safe for babies to inhale, know that it not recommended to expose babies to the oil directly. Also, too much use of the oil can be disastrous, as it may lead to health complications. Therefore, avoid using peppermint oil for babies under the age of one. For babies over a year old, you may use the oil in an extremely diluted form, but only after consulting a trusted paediatrician. Either way, you must know all the likely risks and use the oil wisely.
Now, let’s take a look at the benefits peppermint oil has. But, before that, we would like to reiterate that peppermint oil must be used only when the doctor/paediatrician prescribes it.
Benefits of Peppermint Oil for Infants
Although we do not recommend using peppermint oil for babies, if your baby is over a year old and the paediatrician has also recommended the oil, you may use it in small and diluted quantities, ensuring that it is not ingested. Here are some benefits your baby could gain from peppermint oil.
1. Relief From Colic
Babies are ever so often prone to gas and other digestive problems owing to their developing digestive system. Applying diluted peppermint oil on the belly of a colicky baby may prove beneficial in relieving his discomfort partly.
2. A Remedy for Cold and Cough
You may use peppermint oil if your baby has a cold or a cough. The oil is believed to have expectorant properties. Inhaling diffused peppermint oil mixed with eucalyptus oil and clove oil may prove useful in unclogging a baby’s blocked nose and provide comfort from a sore throat too. It may also diminish the effects of chest congestion. But avoid using it for babies below 6 months of age. Ensure you diffuse the essential oils in minor quantities.
3. Soothes Skin Rash
Applying some diluted peppermint oil with 1 to 2 drops of lavender oil can help treat skin rashes. The cooling quality of the mixture helps in reducing inflammation.
So, these are some of the benefits of using peppermint oil for your baby. Let’s take a look at the precautions that you must take while using the oil.
Precautions to Take While Using Peppermint Oil for Your Baby
It’s important to use peppermint wisely as it could lead to other health issues. These precautions will help you ensure your baby’s safety when using the oil:
- Remember not to directly apply peppermint oil to a baby’s nasal or chest area as it can trigger respiratory distress and bronchial spasms (sudden constriction of the bronchioles wall muscles that cause difficulty in breathing).
- It is not advisable to apply an undiluted form of the oil to the baby’s feet because of its potentially toxic nature.
- Take care while exposing your baby to the oil as inhaling it in large amounts can result in dizziness, muscle weakness, nausea, disorientation, and double vision. Thus, restrict the quantity to bare minimum and also keep the room well-ventilated to avoid these side effects.
- Always dilute peppermint oil with a carrier oil when using for babies. Be careful that your baby doesn’t ingest it as it can prove harmful. The recommended way of diluting peppermint oil is to mix 3 drops of peppermint oil in 2 tablespoons (one ounce approximately) of carrier oil. For babies, you may mix 1 drop of peppermint oil in 2 to 3 tablespoons of the carrier oil.
- Use carrier oils such as coconut oil, olive oil, sesame oil, avocado oil, sweet almond oil, etc. to dilute the peppermint oil. Ensure that your baby is not allergic to the carrier oils you choose to use.
- Always conduct a patch test to check if your baby develops any allergies. Do not use the oil at all in case your baby has a reaction of some sorts and take him to a paediatrician immediately.
Peppermint oil can be deadly when used in its potent form and also in excess. Thus, it is better to avoid giving it to babies unless a paediatrician specifically recommends it. The likely risks associated with the essential oil may outweigh its benefits when a baby’s well-being is in question.
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Also Read: Is It Safe to Use Mineral Oil for Infants?