As a parent always trust your instinct.
So, what exactly are essential oils and why are they so great?
Essential oils are pure aromatic plant essences, they are distilled from flowers, fruit, leaves, resins, roots, seeds, and wood. They have been used for their healing properties for thousands of years.
Only some of the essential oils available are suitable for children. Others are not suitable for children and some are even dangerous to children (children with epilepsy should not come in contact with the more stimulating essential oils).
When used correctly however, essential oils can be of great benefit, and will not conflict with your child’s medically prescribed drugs. Always research the oil of choice thoroughly before using with your infant or child and ask advice from a qualified practitioner, or see the references at the end of this article.
That being said, essential oils can be a wonderful way of supporting your child’s health, happiness and well-being. Essential oils can be very therapeutic and nurturing to both your child and yourself. Essential oils are used externally (on the outside of the body) in your child’s bath, body lotions, oils, creams, gels, compresses, foot baths, or in a oil warmer or diffuser.
The effects of aromatherapy will generally fall into one of three main categories
- Assisting in healing from minor illnesses and accidents
- Supporting your child’s overall sense of well-being
- Assisting your child in getting quality rest
When using natural essential oils with your child, it’s so important that you use only fine grade quality essential oils. Synthetic copies of oils commonly used in perfumery are definitely not appropriate, and may even be harmful to your child’s health. Always remember that to maintain efficacy, essential oils should be kept in dark amber or cobalt glass containers, in a dark and cool location, and always out of reach of children.
Methods of Using Essential Oils
There are three common methods of using essential oils with your child
- INHALATION – through a diffuser, nebulizer, or adding to a humidifier reservoir
- MASSAGE – diluting the essential oil in a natural carrier oil and applying topically though massage
- BATH – adding essential oils to a bath is a combination of the above two methods and very effective
For topical application, essential oils are diluted in varying strengths depending on the use and age of your child. The concentration can vary from one drop of essential oil per tablespoon of carrier oil, to a couple of drops per teaspoon of carrier added to a drawn bath, to an equal ratio of carrier and essential oil applied directly to your child’s feet (as in the case of gentle Lavender). In other words, there are certain variations in dilution levels depending on the circumstances.
Mummas, do your research and then trust your instinct. Only you and your child baby know exactly what is right for your situation.
General dilution rate guidelines of essential oils in one ounce of carrier oil
Age of Child and amount of Essential Oil for Massage
(Always consult your child’s physician before use)
1-3 drops essential oil per 30ml of carrier oil
1-3 drops essential oil per 30ml of carrier oil
1-4 drops essential oil per 30ml of carrier oil
1-4 years (unless very small)
5-8 drops essential oil per 30ml of carrier oil
5-10 drops essential oil per 30 ml of carrier oil
5-12 drops essential oil per 30ml of carrier oil
12 years to young adult
10-15 drops essential oil per 30ml of carrier oil
Do not use essential oils neat (undiluted ) on children’s skin, unless indicated to do so for a specific condition. If your child has very sensitive skin, it is important to test a small area before using a new single oil or blend. Keep essential oils away form the eyes. When using citrus oils – orange, bergamot, lemon, tangerine, mandarin, and lime – do not use where the skin will be exposed to sunlight for the next 12 hours. These oils are considered ‘phototoxic’, and can react from the sun’s rays. They may be used in a bath, however, where they will be washed off the skin once the bath is done.
We do not suggest that essential oils are taken orally (by mouth). When your child is taking medications, reduce the amount of essential oil by half the amount recommended for their age group.
Carrier oils for children
Our favourite essential oil for massage is our BeOriginal Organic Camellia Oil. Being the most penetrative of all the natural oils it also has a wonderful soothing effect on the skin and is great for the hair. Sweet Almond oil is generally regarded as one of the safest and best overall carrier oil for use with babies and children.
There is nothing better for any child than the loving, nurturing touch of a parent. A gentle hug, a smile, a kiss on the cheek all reassure the child and help the parent and child to bond. These everyday forms of connection are instinctual and children thrive from it.
Research shows that massage can help children’s growth both physically and emotionally. In hospitals, studies done with premature babies show that touch is an essential aspect of the children’s ability to thrive.
Nurturing massage can be therapeutic to both the child and the parent. Using a light, conscientious touch you can massage your child’s feet, arms, hands, back, abdomen, legs and feet. The massage should always be done with loving intention, in a peaceful environment.
For a deeply relaxing massage for your child we recommend our essential oil blends BeBlessed and BeAsleep combined with our BeOriginal Organic Camellia Oil.
The above essential oil blends can also be added to your child’s bath.
Add the essential oils AFTER the bath is filled, according to the age of the child 3-5 years – 3 drops, 6-8 years – 4 drops, 8-11 years – 6 drops.
If you’re not a lover of oils, we have beautiful, easy to use balms available.
BeBlessed Balm (which is deeply moisturising and wonderful for skin irritations, rashes and ezcema too!) and our BeAsleep Sleep Balm.
Inhalation of essential oils
For inhalation, one can apply one or two drops to a handkerchief and inhale, a humidifier or diffuser. Calming essential oils used for deep relaxation and sleep are found in our BeBlessed (Peru Balsam, Lavender, Roman Chamomile and Grapefruit White) and the BeAsleep range (Lemon, Mandarin, Roman Chamomile, Bergamot and Lavender True). Our products offered for inhalation purposes include our popular Sleep Mists (which you spray directly onto the pillow and inhale), and of course our essential oil blends.
Essential oils can also be used in an oil warmer with the oil gently evaporating from the surface of a small bowl of water by the heat of a candle.
Last but not least, essential oils are wonderful antiseptics.
Cuts and scrapes are simply path of the course for the little ones! A great blend for minor wounds is a blend found in our BeClear range consisting of Lavender, Eucalyptus and Tea Tree oil. The lavender is soothing, anti-inflammatory, and has regenerative ‘ketones’, while the tea tree is a strong antiseptic used for many generations by native Australians. Use this blend in the water used for cleaning wounds, and apply a few drops to the gauze of a bandage and do not apply directly to the skin as it will be unnecessarily irritating. On the bandage, however, it will be soothing and accelerate the healing process. BeClear is also a wonderful clearing blend for sinuses and throat irritations.
So, there you have it, a very brief overview of using Natural essential oils with children. There are many, many diverse applications for essential oils for almost every conceivable minor ailment seen in childhood. The key is knowledge and finding a good practitioner, or reputable resource for your needs.
For further reading, books by Valerie Ann Woorwood are excellent: “Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child” and “The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy“; for safety data, see “Essential Oil Safety” by Robert Tisserand and Tony Balacs. The Natural essential oils mentioned within this article are deemed as safe for most individuals and if you or your child are recognized as having a specific illness, and/or are under a doctor’s regular care, please consult an appropriate practitioner before proceeding.
That said, aromatherapy can be very beneficial for the health and wellbeing for both you and your child. Natural Essential oils have enriched the lives of many from all over the world. Its so wonderful that this little bit of natural plant magic is readily available to us all.