Essential oils are known for their aromatic and therapeutic properties. They are concentrated liquids containing volatile aroma compounds from plants. Extracted through methods such as distillation or cold pressing, these oils capture the plant’s scent and flavor, or “essence.”
Essential oil may have been integral to traditional medicine systems for centuries, utilized for their potential benefits in physical and mental well being. They are widely used in aromatherapy, massage therapy, skincare, and even in household cleaning products, offering a natural alternative to chemical-based constituents. According to an article by Evidence based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2017, commercial essential oils act as potent anti micro bials that help in treating skin diseases and few pathogens .
Babies have highly sensitive skin and developing systems, making them more susceptible to potential adverse reactions. Therefore, understanding which essential oils are safe to use, the appropriate dilution ratios, avoiding concentrated oils and the correct application methods is important for parents and caregivers looking to incorporate these natural compounds into their baby’s care routine.
This article aims to shed light on essential oils that are safe for children, offering guidance and insights to ensure their beneficial and secure usage.
Commonly Used Essential Oils for Babies and Children
Make sure that the essential oils are not applied directly to the skin. One must always use a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba oil to avoid any rash or skin irritation. According to the Pharmaceutical Biology magazine, Vol 55, Issue 1, 2017, essential oils help to enhance skin permeation, it allows skin penetration of certain vital nutrients which are consumed as supplements for babies . The following are some commonly used essential oils for babies and children.
- Essential oils are widely used in aromatherapy to promote mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
- Different oils are believed to have different therapeutic properties, such as relieving stress, boosting mood, promoting relaxation, and improving sleep quality.
2. Skincare and Beauty
- Many essential oils have skincare benefits, including anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti fungal properties.
- They are often used in skincare products to treat conditions like acne, eczema, and signs of aging.
3. Health and Wellness
- Essential oils are used to alleviate symptoms of various health conditions.
- Peppermint oil for headaches, eucalyptus oil for respiratory issues, and lavender oil for relaxation and sleep are a few examples.
4. Household Cleaning
- The antimicrobial properties of certain essential oils make them a natural choice for homemade cleaning products.
- Lemon, tea tree, and eucalyptus oils are popular choices for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.
5. Pest Control
- Some essential oils act as natural insect repellents.
- Citronella, peppermint, and tea tree oils are commonly used to deter mosquitoes, ants, and other pests.
6. Flavoring and Fragrance
- Essential oils are used as flavoring agents in cooking and baking, given their concentrated
- flavor profiles.
- They are also used in perfumes, candles, and air fresheners for their distinct and pleasant aromas.
7. Pain Relief
- Certain essential oils, like lavender and peppermint, are used topically to alleviate pain and inflammation. Make sure to apply essential oils which are properly diluted.
- They may be used to relieve muscle aches, joint pain, and headaches.
8. Immune System Support
- Essential oils are generally safe. Use lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus, and oregano to boost the immune system and combat infections.
9. Respiratory Health
- Eucalyptus, peppermint, and pine oils are often used to relieve congestion, soothe sore throats, and support respiratory health.
10. Mood and Emotion Regulation
- Essential oils like lavender, rose, and bergamot are used to help regulate mood and emotions.
The Role of Dilution of Essential Oils
Dilution plays a very critical role in the use of essential oils, especially given their concentrated nature.
The following points highlight the importance of the dilution of essential oils. According to Drug and Discovery Today magazine, essential oils are anti carcinogenic, few studies relate to the therapeutic acitivity of essential oils with calming and relaxing properties .
- Skin Irritation: Essential oils are highly concentrated and can cause skin irritation, burns, or sensitization if applied undiluted. Dilution reduces the risk of adverse reactions by decreasing the oil’s concentration on the skin.
- Toxicity: Some essential oils can be toxic if used in large amounts. Diluting them appropriately reduces the risk of systemic toxicity, especially in vulnerable populations like babies, pregnant women, and individuals with certain health conditions.
- Optimal Benefits: Dilution can actually enhance the efficacy of essential oils. Some oils are more effective when their absorption is slowed, and dilution can help in controlling the rate of absorption.
- Avoidance of Overuse: Dilution ensures that the user does not apply more of the oil than is necessary, which is particularly important given the potency of essential oils and to keep it away from direct sunlight.
- Prolonged Usage: Essential oils can be expensive. Diluting them allows for prolonged use of a small quantity of oil, making it more economical.
- Waste Reduction: By using only the amount needed for a specific purpose, dilution helps in reducing waste.
- Vulnerable Populations: Babies, elderly individuals, and people with sensitive skin or certain health conditions are more susceptible to the effects of essential oils. Dilution is essential to safely use oils in these populations.
- Allergic Reactions: Dilution helps in minimizing the risk of allergic reactions by reducing the concentration of potential allergens.
- Topical Application: For topical applications, dilution is essential to avoid skin reactions. The dilution ratio depends on the oil, the area of application, and the individual’s age and health.
- Aromatherapy: While dilution is not always necessary for diffusing oils, it can help in controlling the intensity of the aroma and avoiding overwhelming scents.
- Sustainability: Essential oils are derived from plants, and overuse can contribute to sustainability issues. Dilution helps in minimizing the environmental impact by reducing the amount of oil needed.
Safe Essential Oils for Babies | Essential Oils Safe for Babies
When using essential oils for babies, it is crucial to choose oils that are known for being gentle and safe. However, it is equally important to consult with a healthcare professional or a certified aromatherapist before using any essential oils on babies. Don’t add undiluted oils or to use essential oils directly on babies. Here are some essential oils that are generally considered safe for babies, along with their benefits:
1. Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia)
Properties: Calming, soothing, anti-inflammatory.
Uses: Helps with relaxation, promotes better sleep, can be used for minor skin irritations.
2. Chamomile (Roman Chamomile – Chamaemelum nobile; German Chamomile – Matricaria chamomilla)
Properties: Anti-inflammatory, calming, antispasmodic.
Uses: Soothes skin irritations, helps with relaxation and sleep, can alleviate minor digestive issues.
3. Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiata)
Properties: Antiviral, antibacterial, expectorant.
Uses: Can be used for respiratory issues like congestion, but should be used with caution and in low dilution.
4. Mandarin (Citrus reticulata)
Properties: Calming, antispasmodic.
Uses: Helps with relaxation, can alleviate minor digestive issues.
5. Carrot Seed (Daucus carota)
Properties: Antiseptic, antispasmodic.
Uses: Can be beneficial for skin health and digestive comfort.
Essential Oils to Avoid for Babies
One should avoid the following essential oils for babies:
- Peppermint Oil (Mentha piperita)
Can potentially cause skin irritation and respiratory issues in infants.
- Rosemary Oil (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Contains camphor and can cause seizures in young children if ingested.
- Wintergreen Oil (Gaultheria procumbens)
Highly toxic if ingested and can be absorbed through the skin.
- Clove Oil (Syzygium aromaticum)
Can cause skin irritation and mucous membrane damage.
- Anise Oil (Pimpinella anisum)
Can cause skin irritation and is potentially toxic in higher concentrations.
- Fennel Oil (Foeniculum vulgare)
Contains trans-anethole and can cause skin irritation.
- Basil Oil (Ocimum basilicum)
Contains methyl chavicol and can be irritating to the skin and mucous membranes.
- Thyme Oil (Thymus vulgaris)
Can be irritating to the skin and mucous membranes.
DIY Recipes for Baby-Safe Essential Oil Blends and How to Use
Creating baby-safe essential oil blends involves using gentle oils in appropriate dilutions. Here are a few DIY recipes that are generally considered safe for babies over 3 months, but always consult with a healthcare professional or certified aromatherapist before using any essential oil on or around babies.
Recipe #1 – Calming Lavender Blend
- 1 drop of Lavender Essential Oil (Lavandula angustifolia)
- 1 tablespoon of Fractionated Coconut Oil or another carrier oil
- Mix the lavender oil with the carrier oil.
- Apply a small amount to the soles of the baby’s feet or along the spine before bedtime.
Recipe #2 – Gentle Tummy Blend
- 1 drop of Dill Essential Oil (Anethum graveolens)
- 1 tablespoon of Sweet Almond Oil or another carrier oil
- Combine the dill oil with the carrier oil.
- Gently massage a small amount onto the baby’s tummy in a clockwise motion.
Recipe #3 – Soothing Chamomile Blend
- 1 drop of Roman Chamomile Essential Oil (Chamaemelum nobile)
- 1 tablespoon of Jojoba Oil or another carrier oil
- Mix the chamomile oil with the carrier oil.
- Apply a small amount to the baby’s wrists or behind the ears to help soothe irritability.
Recipe #4 – Mild Respiratory Blend
- 1 drop of Fir Needle Essential Oil (Abies balsamea)
- 1 tablespoon of Grapeseed Oil or another carrier oil
- Combine the fir needle oil with the carrier oil.
- Gently rub a small amount onto the baby’s chest and back.
Recipe #5 – Skin-Softening Blend
- 1 drop of Calendula Essential Oil (Calendula officinalis)
- 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil or another carrier oil
- Mix the calendula oil with the carrier oil.
- Apply a small amount of diluted essential oil to the baby’s skin to help soften and nourish.
Guidelines for using Essential Oils on Babies
The following are the guidelines for using essential oils on babies:
- Consult Healthcare Professionals: Always consult with a pediatrician or certified aromatherapist before using essential oils on or around babies.
- Proper Dilution: Essential oils must be diluted properly using a carrier oil. A general guideline is 0.5-1% dilution, which equates to 3-6 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil, which is a safe dilution ratio.
- Patch Testing: Conduct a patch test to ensure there is no adverse reaction before using the oil on larger areas of the baby’s skin.
- Age-Appropriate Oils: Use only age-appropriate and safe essential oils. Avoid using essential oils on newborns under 3 months as their skin is highly sensitive.
- Application Methods: Apply diluted oils to the soles of the feet or along the spine. Avoid applying oils to the hands as babies often put their hands in their mouths. Never use essential oils around the baby’s face, especially near the nose and mouth.
- Avoid Internal Use: Never allow babies to ingest essential oils. Keep essential oils out of reach of children.
- Storage: Store oils in a cool, dark place, away from sunlight. Ensure the lids are tightly closed to avoid evaporation and oxidation.
- Monitor for Reactions: Closely monitor the baby for any signs of discomfort, irritation, or allergic reactions. Discontinue use and seek medical advice if any adverse reactions occur.
In conclusion, while essential oils can offer a myriad of benefits, their use with babies requires an extra layer of caution and diligence. Baby-safe essential oils are those that are known for their gentle and non-irritating properties, such as lavender, chamomile, and dill. However, even these should be used sparingly, properly diluted, and with the guidance of healthcare professionals or certified aromatherapists.
Parents and caregivers should educate themselves about the properties, benefits, and potential risks of each essential oil, conduct patch tests to rule out allergic reactions, and closely monitor for any signs of discomfort or irritation. Essential oils should never be applied near a baby’s face, especially around the nose and mouth, and ingestion should be strictly avoided. Balancing the natural potency of essential oils with the delicate nature of baby’s skin and systems is key to a harmonious and beneficial experience.
- Orchard, A. and van Vuuren, S., 2017. Commercial essential oils as potential antimicrobials to treat skin diseases. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2017. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2017/4517971/
- Jiang, Q., Wu, Y., Zhang, H., Liu, P., Yao, J., Yao, P., Chen, J. and Duan, J., 2017. Development of essential oils as skin permeation enhancers: Penetration enhancement effect and mechanism of action. Pharmaceutical biology, 55(1), pp.1592-1600. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13880209.2017.1312464
- Pavithra, P.S., Mehta, A. and Verma, R.S., 2019. Essential oils: from prevention to treatment of skin cancer. Drug discovery today, 24(2), pp.644-655. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1359644618302411