Using aromatherapy with babies and children is a topic that is debated frequently. However, I think that one of the most important questions is, “How do you use aromatherapy safely with babies and children?” Some essential oils should never be used with babies and children – and, in all cases, you should always dilute those essential oils that are considered “safe” to use with babies and children. Consult a health care professional for specific advice. Here’s a closer look.
Aromatherapy: Hydrosols vs. Essential Oils for Babies and Children
Hydrosols are enjoying an increased popularity in aromatherapy practice, and are a great alternative to using essential oils with babies and children. Hydrosols, by their natural make-up, are less “potent” than essential oils and are usually more gentle in their actions.
However, it is of paramount importance that you understand the chemical make-up and potential use for each essential oil and hydrosol before using it.
Dilution Rates for Using Aromatherapy with Babies and Children
A trained aromatherapist understands that dilution rates are lower for use with special groups, such as babies and children, than the normal recommended amounts for adults. In addition, essential oils should be diluted in a base such as a carrier oil, lotion, cream, balm, or butter before applying it to the skin. Hydrosols can usually be used undiluted (due to their predominant water base) but you should still check to see if a particular hydrosol is suitable for use with babies and children.
Dilution rates vary but can be as small as one drop of essential oil to one ounce of product base. Basic guidelines for using essential oils with babies and children are given in my book Authentic Aromatherapy.
Types of Essential Oils to Use with Babies and Children
Some essential oils should always be avoided with babies and children, due to their chemical make-up; examples of such essential oils include:
essential oils high in menthone – such as the mint essential oils
hyssop (Hyssop officinalis)
juniper (Juniperus communis).
In addition, note that some species of essential oils have different chemotypes; one chemotype might be contra-indicated for use with babies and children but another might be suitable for use.
Some examples of essential oils that are gentle in nature and might be suitable for use with babies and children include:
grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi)
lemon (Citrus limon)
lavender (Lavandula angustifolia).
You should also note any other contra-indications for use; for example, photo-sensitivity.
Types of Product Bases for Use with Babies and Children
Some aromatherapy product bases lend themselves more easily to use with babies and children than others; for example:
white lotion base
Depending on the reason for application, these types of bases are more suited to a baby’s immature, delicate skin than an oil-based product.
Learn More About Using Aromatherapy with Babies and Children
It is important that an aromatherapist understands the safe use of essential oils with babies and children before advising on the subject matter. The Sedona Aromatherapie Certification in Professional Aromatherapy covers the topic of aromatherapy use with babies and children in detail. To learn more about home study aromatherapy certification courses, visit the courses home page.
Author is a certified aromatherapist with specific training in using aromatherapy with babies and children
Price, Shirley, Price, Penny, 1996, Aromatherapy for Babies and Children, UK: Riverhead