by Virginia George, Contributing Writer
Newborns are the most vulnerable humans in our society. They are completely reliant on others to care for them. As a parent, nothing makes you feel more helpless than having an infant you can’t help.
Using Essential Oils with Infants
Essential oils are great tools for supporting your childrens’ health, but we need to take some care when using essential oils with newborns.
Using essential oils aromatically is generally considered one of the safest and gentlest ways to administer them. There are some respiratory concerns when using essential oils with infants in particular.
Essential oils that contain menthol or 1,8 cineole are a particular risk to children under 6. They can cause a slowing of respirations in infants, and should be placed on the feet of children between 6 and 12. Not all children will be affected by the use of these oils, but caution should always be taken.
Oils that contain 1,8 cineole include eucalyptus (globulus and radiata), helichrysum, peppermint, rosemary, niaouli, saro, laurel, and ravintsara. While 1,8 cineole has many great therapeutic purposes, it’s just not ideal for infants. There are a lot of other essential oils to support your infant’s health that are safer for their little lungs.
Topical use is another way to use essential oils with babies. However, infants have more sensitive skin than older children and adults. When using essential oils with babies, always be sure to dilute them with a carrier oil (learn about carrier oils here). Never use oils neat (undiluted) with babies.
There is a lot of debate in the world of aromatherapy about the proper dilution percentage for people of all ages. The safe recommendations for dilution are .25% for babies aged 6 months through 6 years and 1% for children 6 years of ago and older. Personally, I dilute my oils to a maximum of 10% for adults, 5% for older children, and 1% for infants. If that feels too strong for you, feel free to dilute further.
A Word on Quality
There are a lot of essential oil brands out there. A whole bunch are high quality, sourced ethically, and will provide a great therapeutic benefit to you and your family. Several are full of synthetic additives, are cut with a lesser quality oil, and a few are completely synthetic with no real plant material at all.
It is important to find a source you can trust. Find out a company’s business practices, if they do third party testing, and what their standards are. Essential Oil University is a great resource for learning the real chemistry surrounding essential oils.
Always use essential oils with caution with your children, especially newborns and infants. The following essential oils are generally considered safe to use with infants. Of course, if you notice an adverse reaction to any essential oil or carrier oil, discontinue use immediately.
*Editor’s Note- Many aromatherapist recommend avoid using Ylang Ylang topically on children younger than 2 years old.
Lavender is a great oil to use for digestive support, or for soothing the skin and emotions. Roman Chamomile is another essential oil you can use to help soothe your infant. Frankincense is my favorite oil, and is great for a multitude of uses from supporting mood and promoting a healthy inflammatory response.
There are many great choices for using essential oils with your infant. See what works for you!