Essential Oils for Babies and Infants
Using essential oils for children, babies, and infants can be a great way to treat some typical childhood ailments, such as teething, sleep problems, diaper rash, and eczema. In this article, you will discover what essential oils are good for babies and which ones should be avoided until specific ages. While there are excellent essential oils for babies and infants, only certain oils can be used on children. Read further to discover the best essential oils for babies and children.
While parents should be concerned about using appropriate essential oils on children, it’s a myth that all essential oils are not safe for children. In fact, there are many popular commercial products containing essential oils such as lavender and chamomile. Parents can feel good about creating their own natural care products using essential oils for infants and children.
Note: Never use essential oils on a baby, infant, or toddler without first consulting a healthcare professional.
Are Essential Oils Safe for Babies?
Parents interested in alternative and complementary wellness therapies may wonder, “Are essential oils safe for babies? Is lavender oil safe for babies? What about peppermint essential oil and babies?” Many of the facts about essential oils and babies are age-dependant and are still being researched. While some essential oils may be used on newborns, they must be diluted at a different ratio than when used for adults. This is simply because they are still developing and have more sensitivities than adults. Other essential oils are simply not suitable for children. That does not mean you cannot use any essential oils with your child, however; it means you need to inform yourself about safe essential oils for babies and kids.
Most of the information currently available regarding essential oil use on children comes from aromatherapists. Make sure you check with a health care professional before using essential oils to treat children.
When it comes to essential oils for newborns, the soothing qualities of chamomile essential oil (both Roman and German) are considered safe for infants, as well as mandarin and dill essential oil. Using lavender oil on babies is also considered a safe choice.1 Naturopathic pediatric doctors advise patch testing to determine any sensitivities to essential oils. Carefully clean and dry a spot on the inside of the arm, and apply a small amount of essential oil diluted with a carrier oil. Cover with a bandage and wait 24 hours for any reaction. Note that patch testing should be performed only on babies 6 months or older.1
Using basic safety rules for infants, parents may be able to use certain essential oils for minor baby ailments. Never administer essential oils for consumption, and keep all bottles out of reach of children.
Essential Oils for Teething Babies
Essential oils can be very helpful in treating the symptoms of teething. Aromatherapists often recommend the calming benefits of lavender essential oil or chamomile essential oils for teething baby symptoms.2 Parents can use them individually or combine them in an essential oil massage mixture. For a natural teething remedy, add 1 drop of each essential oil to 1 Tbsp. of carrier oil, such as sweet almond oil. Use a couple drops of the mixture to massage the jaw and neck.
You can also make cold compresses using essential oil water. Pour 1 cup of boiling water into a bowl, and add 1-2 drops of lavender or chamomile essential oil. Cover the bowl until the water is warm, and then pour the mixture through a paper coffee filter. Let it cool completely. Dip a material such as muslin in the essential oil water, squeeze excess out, and lightly apply a small amount to the external jaw.1
Essential Oils for Diaper Rash
Diaper rash is an ailment all babies experience, as wet diapers are inevitable and so is the soreness and rash that accompanies them. You can use essential oils for baby wipes to help reduce symptoms of diaper rash. With the following essential oils, baby bottoms should be back to normal in no time.
Treating diaper rash is another of the many lavender oil uses for baby. You can make a soothing wipe for your baby’s sore bottom with a combination of lavender and yarrow essential oils. You can keep the base of this remedy on hand by mixing equal parts lavender and yarrow essential oils in a clean bottle and then shaking well to combine them. Using 2 Tsp. of jojoba oil, add 1 drop of the lavender/yarrow oil combination and mix well. Clean the affected area first with a mixture of warm water and jojoba oil, and then lightly pat the essential oil ointment on the bottom.3
If the diaper rash is caused by a thrush infection, try harnessing the benefits of lemongrass essential oil which has shown excellent antimicrobial properties against Candida albicans, the bacterium that causes thrush. Is lemongrass oil safe for babies? As a general safety rule, lemongrass essential oil can be used on children aged 2 years and older.4 As thrush infections can affect toddlers as well, lemongrass essential oil may be an excellent natural remedy for children this age.1
Essential Oils for Baby Eczema
There are a few good essential oils for eczema in babies. For newborns, Roman chamomile and lavender essential oils are considered safe to use by aromatherapists.1 You can mix either 1 drop of lavender or Roman chamomile essential oil with 1 Tbsp. of sweet almond oil. Massage a small amount onto any affected areas. These are also considered good essential oils for baby cradle cap.2
While many people have been told to try using the beneficial properties of tea tree essential oil for eczema, is tea tree oil safe for babies? According to aromatherapists, you can use tea tree essential oil for eczema on infants 2 months or older.1 Tea tree essential oil has natural antimicrobial qualities that inhibit the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, the bacterium that is behind many eczema outbreaks. Try mixing 1 drop of tea tree essential oil to 2 Tbsp. of sweet almond oil. Dip a cotton ball into the oil mixture and dab lightly onto affected areas.
Essential Oils for Colic Babies
Between 10-40% of infants suffer from colic, a condition scientists have yet to explain.5 Many parents know the frustration of seemingly-untreatable colic in their infants. Luckily, colic appears to have no long-term health ramifications, though the long periods of crying and wailing in colicky newborns can cause feelings of helplessness, concern, and impatience.
Using chamomile essential oil for babies suffering from colic is a great way to treat fussy babies. Chamomile tea, which contains some of the plant oil, is a time-honoured remedy that has been proven effective against colic, and chamomile essential oil is considered safe for topical use in newborns.1,6 Combine 1 drop of chamomile essential oil to 1 Tbsp. of almond oil. While giving your baby a warm bath, rub a tiny amount of this chamomile oil mix on baby’s tummy. Do not use the entire amount; a dab is enough.
Another one of the top calming essential oils for babies is dill essential oil. To use dill essential oils for a fussy baby, add 1 drop of dill essential oil to 1 Tbsp. of almond oil and massage the mixture on the tummy and back of the baby.2 A small dab of the oil mixture is more than enough.
If your colicky baby is suffering a lack of sleep, consider lavender essential oil for baby sleep deprivation. Lavender essential oil is a known sleep aid and is one of the best essential oils for babies’ sleep problems. Try adding 1 drop of the oil to a humidifier to very lightly scent the baby’s room.
Essential Oils for Baby Cough
There are many therapeutic uses for essential oil, baby cough among them. If your child is suffering from baby cough, essential oils used in a diffuser may help bring some relief. Mix together equal parts of lavender and eucalyptus essential oils for babies 2 months or older. Place a couple drops in a diffuser and run only during the day. When diffusing for babies, it is best to mix 1-2 drops of essential oil with water in the diffuser.
You do not want to overdo the diffusion process, just enough to lightly scent the room. When adding essential oils in humidifier for baby coughs remember the ailment can be eased with just 1-2 drops of essential oil and water vapour.2 Aromatherapists often recommend these essential oils for allergies in babies, as well as coughs.
Essential Oils for Gassy Baby
One of the most popular natural remedy requests is figuring out the most effective essential oils for baby constipation. Ailments of the digestive system, including gas, indigestion, and constipation, are best treated with dill essential oil. Add 1 drop of dill essential oil to water in a diffuser and run for up to 30 minutes during the day, just enough to lightly scent the room. When using aromatherapy for babies, it should not be overpowering.2
Essential Oils for Baby Congestion
Nothing is quite as disheartening as a sick or congested baby. Luckily, with the right essential oils, baby congestion can be treated successfully. For newborns, the safest essential oils are Roman chamomile or lavender, while babies older than 2 months may also be able to handle tea tree and eucalyptus essential oils.1, 2 While useful for clearing congestion in adults, never use peppermint essential oil for babies as it can cause serious, life-threating side effects.
To help clear congestion, add 1 drop of essential oil diluted with water in a diffuser. Eucalyptus is an especially powerful essential oil for baby runny nose.
Essential Oils for Baby Ear Infection
Earaches and ear infections are common throughout childhood. In a 2005 in vitro study, researchers tested bacterial swabs from adult patients with ear infections. Results showed that tea tree essential oil was effective in battling the bacteria that causes outer ear infections.11
To use tea tree essential oil for ear infection in babies, mix together 1 drop of tea tree essential oil with 1 Tbsp. of lukewarm sweet almond oil. Dip a cotton ball into the mixture and hold against the baby’s external ear for a minute. Make sure none of the oil gets inside the baby’s ear. Remove the cotton ball and gently pat away any excess oil from the ear.
Note: Tea tree essential oil is not recommended for babies younger than two months.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- Worwood, V. A. (2000). Aromatherapy for the healthy child: more than 300 natural, nontoxic, and fragrant essential oil blends. Novato, CA: New World Library. Retrieved from https://books.google.ca/books?id=cIhx3PpdENcC&lpg=PP1&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
- Worwood, V. A. (1991). The complete book of essential oils and aromatherapy. Novato, CA: New World Library. Retrieved from https://books.google.ca/books?id=MflOkV2qNAUC&lpg=PA1&ots=69TQeyii_9&dq=essential%20oils%20and%20infatns&lr&pg=PR5#v=onepage&q&f=false – View reference
- Sonoma Press. (2014). Essential oils & aromatherapy: an introductory guide. Berkeley, CA: Sonoma Press. Retrieved from https://books.google.ca/books?id=k0asBwAAQBAJ&lpg=PT116&ots=CzweZgUwM0&dq=yarrow%20essential%20oil%20diaper%20rash&pg=PT116#v=onepage&q&f=false – View reference
- Tisserand, R., & Young, R. (2013). Essential oil safety (2nd) Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier. Retrieved from https://books.google.ca/books?id=DbEKAQAAQBAJ&lpg=PP1&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
- Johnson, J.D., Cocker, K., & Chang, E. (2015). Infantile colic: recognition and treatment. American Family Physician, 92(7), 577-82. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26447441
- Capasso, R., Savino, F., & Capasso, F. (2007). Effects of the herbal formulation ColiMil on upper gastrointestinal transit in mice in vivo. Phytotherapy Research, 21(10), 999-1101. DOI: 1002/ptr.2192