Aromatherapy can be an effective way to sooth and treat common ailments in babies such as colds, coughs, sleeping problems, nappy rash, and even colic. Potent essential oils can be administered in a number of ways: through massage, bathing, or inhalation. Effective blends of essential oils for these treatments can be created at home or by an experienced aromatherapist. We provide below an overview of safety tips and health benefits for using essential oils for baby massage and a list of our favourite blends.
Essential Oil and Babies – A Caution
Natural oils are extremely potent and powerful. Whilst they are safe to use in remedies and treatments, they should be used with extreme care. If in any doubt as to the safety of an essential oil or blend of oils, do not use and contact a professional aromatherapist.
As a general rule, the following rules apply if using essential oils with toddlers and babies:
- Do not administer essential oils internally.
- Avoid the eye area or the mucous membranes. Flush eyes immediately if affected with sterile water and seek medical help immediately.
- Before using an essential oil blend, always perform a skin test 48 hours before use. Dab the skin of the inner elbow with a small amount of the diluted oil, cover with a plaster, and leave. If irritation occurs, or if neat oil is ever spilt on a child’s skin, flood the area with vegetable oil.
- Never apply essential oil to the skin. Always blend in a child friendly carrier oil.
Blending Essential Oils For Babies
The amount of essential oil added to a carrier oil should always be less than for an adult. As a rule, there should be one part essential oil for 100 parts carrier oil. For babies, this would work out to be one drop of essential oil to 10ml of base oil.
If creating a blend that requires more than one type of essential oil, add one drop of each of the oils to a bottle and mix together. Then, take one drop of this blended mixture and add it to a base oil.
As always, if in any doubt, consult a qualified aromatherapist.
Baby Friendly Essential Oils
Not all essential oils are suitable for children, so only choose oils which are known to be child friendly. Good oils that are safe to use to treat a variety of infant complaints are:
- Roman Chamomile – for nappy rash, eczema, restlessness.
- Eucalyptus oil – for colds.
- Fennel oil – for colic and digestive problems.
- Lavender oil – for relaxation and skin care.
- Peppermint oil – for digestion and colic.
- Tea tree oil – for general skincare, nappy rash, coughs and colds.
Remember that aromatherapy remedies for babies are no substitute for seeking medical help. Always seek advice from a professional before administering an aromatherapy remedy to a child.
Aromatherapy Treatments for Babies
There are a number of safe ways to administer essential oils to infants and babies. These include:
Add one drop of essential oil to a tablespoon of full fat milk before adding to the bath water and mixing thoroughly. Alternatively, add the oil to a carrier oil and massage into the skin before the bath. This is an excellent way of treating skin complaints or relaxing a child.
Add one drop of neat oil to an oil burner, diffuser, or even a bowl of water or cloth on a radiator. This is useful for treating coughs and colds.
Mix the essential oil or oils into a safe base oil and apply to the child’s skin.
Infants and babies can benefit from aromatherapy; however, parents must use essential oils with caution. Use only oils that are suitable for them. When in doubt, it’s always advisable to seek professional opinion before applying essential oil on infants.
Health Benefits of Aromatherapy and Baby Massage
Aromatherapy oils such as chamomile provide a soothing quality for babies, while lavender is helpful to infants suffering from chesty coughs and colds. Aromatherapy oils must be used with extreme caution during pregnancy and in children under the age of 14. This is because some essential oils (such as jasmine) have been linked to increased risk of miscarriage, while younger children have particularly sensitive skin which may react more strongly to certain aromatherapy products.
Babies are especially vulnerable to skin problems, making it important to seek expert advice from a qualified and experienced aromatherapist before purchasing aromatherapy oils. One of the best ways to help babies through aromatherapy is to use essential oils during baby massage. In The Aromatherapy Bible, G. Farrer-Halls highlights some aromatherapy massage benefits for babies. These include the following:
- Baby massage helps the parent to bond with the child
- Babies regularly massaged are healthier
- Baby massage helps improve sleep
- Babies regularly massaged have less anxiety
- Calming essential oils help baby to calm down
Baby massage may be learned through a midwife, Infant Massage Instructor, or health professional that offer introduction to baby massage courses. While many aromatherapy oils are best avoided in young babies, the following essential oils (used in tiny amounts) are recognized as safe:
- roman chamomile
Chamomile Essential Oil for Babies and Infants
A particularly useful aromatherapy product, especially for young babies and infants, is chamomile. This essential oil has long since been recognized to have many healing and soothing properties. Chamomile is also added to many blond highlighting shampoos, while chamomile tea is popular for increasing feelings of calm and well-being.
Gill Farrer-Halls highlights healing properties associated with using chamomile for baby massage:
- calms agitated baby
- soothes irritability/restless baby
- helps get baby to sleep
- relieves tummy upsets
- soothes baby when teething
Aromatherapy Helps Babies With Coughs
Aromatherapy is also widely used to help infants, babies, and children who are suffering from chesty coughs or other chest conditions. Two particularly helpful forms of essential oil used for these purposes include myrtle and lavender. Ways to use such aromatherapy is by massaging your baby’s chest with essential oils, including the following:
- myrtle for chest massage slightly sedative
- myrtle/lavender blend in bath gently soothes
- myrtle/lavender blend in burner (safely out of reach)
As highlighted above, always exercise extreme caution when using aromatherapy oils whilst pregnant and with babies or young children. Chamomile helps soothe babies struggling to sleep, helps relieve teething pain and tummy upsets, while myrtle eases chesty coughs. Baby massage using aromatherapy oils, such as lavender and mandarin, help with bonding and reduce anxiety levels.