Note — The article was checked and updated March 2023.
Essential oils are not to be used on children that are under 3 months of age because infants have more sensitive skin. Use of essential oils on babies, even when diluted, can cause skin irritation and possibly sensitivity to sun exposure.
Diffusing essential oils in a water mixture, by using an oil diffuser, is safer but it is recommended that babies should not be in the immediate environment because their lungs and sinuses are still developing and might get irritated.
It is recommended to use essential oil dilutions that are less than 1% and some of the more calming oils for babies are Blue Chamomile, Lavender, Frankincense, Roman Chamomile and Cypress.
RELATED — Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Today we will go in more detail on the use of essential oils and how babies can also benefit from them (but in very, very, very small doses).
Infants and essential oils
During the summer months, New Zealanders add many new tiny kiwis to our populations, and we welcome these little babies with open arms.
Life outside the comforting womb can be challenging and this is where natural essential oils can help make the transition easier.
Imagine that you spend months in a wonderful warm liquid medium that nourishes you, cradles you and buffers unwanted loud noise. Suddenly, the medium that surrounds you is much harsher, cold and warmth interchange quickly, wind brushes your skin and bright light penetrates your eyes even when they are closed shut.
Fortunately, natural derived oils are ideal companions to make a baby’s life happier. However, please remember that the baby’s sense organs are still sensitive and the skin is not used to over-stimulation. In order to avoid sensitisation, use essential oils very sparingly with and on your baby.
Dilutions higher than 1% should be avoided.
Hydrosols or floral waters, the watery phase that is left after the distillation process of essential oils, are ideal to be used for babies. They contain traces of essential oils and have the same properties as their oily companions.
What essential oils to use and when
Herbal scented Melissa hydrosol can lull your baby to sleep. It also helps to keep the skin moisturised, eases pain and takes care of small wounds.
Baby’s skin can get a little dry by being exposed to air after being in the medium of water for months. Moisturising with a calming massage, by using a beautiful blend of gentle almond oil, Lavandin and Roman Chamomile, can be very soothing. Most babies will just melt into your hands because of the relaxing effects of the essential oils and your calming strokes.
Some babies are very unsettled and can’t seem to stop crying. It can help to give them lots of hugs, to cuddle them often and to cradle their little heads.
Research has shown that babies respond very well to human touch. It helps them to relate to their caregiver, but most of all it supports their brain development as well as it triggers their appetite. Babies who are being held, gain weight better than babies who are handled less.
Another reason for the little one not wanting to settle, especially if it was delivered by C-section, could be a misalignment in their cranial and spinal bones which won’t adjust itself.
A session with a cranial therapist can work wonders and I have seen babies in distress falling asleep during the session and babies with strong colics settling down within minutes.
Most babies enjoy a warm bath in the evening in order to let go of all the new impressions and learnings that have happened during the day.
This is perfect really as water is the medium they were used to for 9 months. Commercial bubble baths can be drying to the skin. Instead, just soak a cheese cloth filled with oats and 1 drop of Lavandin warm water.
Your baby will relax immediately and will thank you with hours of quiet sleep afterwards.
The “bottom” line
For the baby’s bottom, I am using a balm recommended by a well known midwife, Ingeborg Stadelmann from Germany. She combines wax with calendula oil, St. John’s wort infused oil, Manuka, Blue Chamomile, Lavandin and Rose essential oils.
RELATED — Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
This balm is so wonderfully healing that it needs to be used only sparingly. Even little fungal infections and cradle cap react positively to this healing process supporting balm (again, if in doubt how to select the essential oils and how to combine them properly, please contact a professional aromatherapist or use wonderfully ready made products from absoluteessential.com).
If your little one has difficulties adjusting its digestion and colics are giving grief and pain, circle the little tummy clockwise with mandarin essential oil enriched balm. Flatulence and bloating air can be released fairly quickly and the baby will smile again.
Be aware that your baby is definitely not an object to experiment on or ever use concentrated essential oils neatly. Always use essential oils in dilution and if in doubt, please consult a clinical aromatherapist (you can find qualified professionals at nzroha.com).
Nau mai haere mai, Little One
Angelika has been supporting clients, friends and family members on their journey to health and wellbeing for more than 30 years through healing sessions, education and wellness retreats. After being interested in holistic health care all her life and studying with various Masters in their field in Asia, Germany and Australia, Angelika settled in Auckland 15 years ago where she offers holistic treatments from her studio in Mission Bay.
Her unique and bespoke approach to healing combines ancient techniques such as TCM, Aromatherapy, Colour-Light-Therapy and Reiki with Energy Healing modalities like Kinesiology and BodyTalk. If you are interested to learn more, please visit www.angeliquehealing.co.nz
(1) Ingeborg Stadelmann – Proven Aromatherapy Blends – 2001 Stadelmann Publications (original in German “Bewaehrte Aromamischungen”)