Dear Dr. Wendy,
I am a new mom of a four month old healthy baby boy. I love using essential oils, but I have been reading that they might not be good for the baby. Are there certain oils I should stay away from? Is it safe to use my diffuser around him?
— Megan S.
I understand the confusion! It is difficult to find research on essential oils for infants, so it is best to err on the side of caution. The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians recommends not using essential oils at all on babies younger than three months.
When choosing an essential oil, make sure it is pure. Look for oils that are labeled organic or Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade (CPTG). Beware of oils sold in big chain stores. They are likely very low quality and should not be used on infants, or anyone else.
Oils should always be diluted for the sensitive skin of infants and small children. The safest way to use oils for them is to dilute one to two drops of essential oil in two tablespoons of carrier oil (organic oils of coconut, sunflower, grapeseed, etc. work well). Applying the oil to the bottom of the feet is effective and safe. Baby massage is also a great way to use essential oils. Studies show that infant massage can improve weight gain in preterm infants, encourage development and decrease irritability and sleep disturbances. Never apply near the eyes, nose or mouth. If you use the oils in the bath, always use a bath gel base as a dispersing agent.
Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile or Anthemis nobilis) is mild enough to use on infants and children. Its most known uses are for calming and relaxing, which make it effective for calming an irritable baby. It is also noted to be helpful for soothing stomach aches and colic, relieving teething pain, fevers and earaches.
Wild Orange (Citrus sinensis) is most used for its sedative and digestive effects. It may be helpful in cases of colic to help them sleep.
Eucalyptus is somewhat controversial. Eucalyptus radiata is deemed to be safe, while Eucalyptus globulus should not be used on infants. It can be helpful for respiratory issues and congestion.
Several other oils generally considered safe for topical use (when diluted) are frankincense, lavender, lemon, melaleuca and sandalwood.
When it comes to diffusing oils there are only a few that have been studied and are considered safe for children under age two. These are jasmine absolute, lemongrass and ylang ylang.
Do you have a question to ask us? Please email them to Askcoach@haydenhealth.com.
**This Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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Dr. Wendy Cunningham is a doctor of chiropractic, certified acupuncturist and has her master’s degree in nutrition.