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Safe Use of Essential Oils for Babies

The cautious use of essential oils for babies can be part of caring for your infant in a natural, healthy way. These guidelines are for healthy infants. Understand that different sources sometimes have different recommendations, so you have to use your discernment and seek professional advice as needed.

If your child has any health issues, or you are in doubt, consult a healthcare professional.

Cute Baby | How To Use Aromatherapy For Babies

Basic Safety Guidelines

Never let undiluted essential oil come into contact with your baby's skin. Suggested dilutions:

  • Age 3 to 6 months: 2 drops essential oil in 2 tablespoons carrier oil.
  • Age 7 months to 2 years: 3 to 4 drops essential oil in 2 tablespoons carrier oil.

Commonly recommended carrier oils include sweet almond (avoid if you suspect a nut allergy), camellia seed oil, and meadowfoam oil.

Use essential oils sparingly—everyday use is discouraged. Use only the highest quality essential oils.

Do not apply essential oils to or near a child’s face.

Use only gentle essential oils. Avoid strong oils. Learn about the possible effects of an oil before using it. If your child starts sneezing, tearing, or fretting, stop using the oil immediately.

For tips for older children, see Using Essential Oils With Kids.

Babies Age 3 Days to 3 Months

Do not use any essential oil with a newborn younger than 3 days (some sources say 2 weeks).

Generally, avoid using aromatherapy for babies under the age of three months. They have sensitive nasal and skin tissues that are easily irritated.

The only possible exceptions are roman chamomile, german chamomile, lavender, and mandarin, highly diluted. For example, The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook for Everyday Wellness suggests a bath oil blend of 1 drop essential oil in 1 teaspoon carrier oil mixed into baby's bath for a calming effect.

The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy recommends a blend no stronger than 1 drop essential oil in 2 tablespoons carrier oil.

Essential Oils for Babies Ages 3 Months+

After the age of 3 months, you can potentially use the following essential oils safe for babies: bergamot, cedarwood, frankincense, geranium, ginger, lemon, sweet marjoram, sweet orange, rose, rosemary, sandalwood, tea tree, thyme ct. linalol, and ylang ylang, according to The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook.

The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy also suggests coriander seed.

Ways to Use Essential Oils for Babies

You can use essential oils in a diffuser to purify the air in a nursery and calm and relax your infant. Lavender, geranium, and roman chamomile work well. Position the diffuser so the mist doesn't fall onto your baby. 

Aromatherapy and Massage for Mother and Baby by Allison England, who specializes in working with mothers and children, recommends the following:

Sniffles: Add 2 to 4 drops of either lemon, lavender, or tea tree essential oil to a diffuser.

Constipation: Dilute 1 to 2 drops lavender in 1 tablespoon carrier oil. Stir the blend into a warm bath for your baby. Or give your child a gentle tummy and lower back massage using 1 drop roman chamomile and 1 drop mandarin diluted in 1 tablespoon carrier oil. Massage in a circular clockwise direction.

Diaper rash cream: To 2 ounces (50 grams or 4 tablespoons) of non-perfumed cream that doesn't contain lanolin, add 2 drops german chamomile and 2 drops lavender. (If your healthcare provider thinks the cause of the rash is fungus, use 4 drops of tea tree oil instead.)

Baby Massage

To calm fretful babies, The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy suggests the following massage oil blends:

  • 2 drops lavender and 2 drops roman chamomile in 2 tablespoons carrier oil
  • 3 drops geranium and 3 drops roman chamomile in 3.5 tablespoons carrier oil
  • 5 drops mandarin and 2 drops roman chamomile in 3.5 tablespoons carrier oil

Learn more about baby massage.

Essential Oils for Colic

To make a colic baby massage oil, add 1 drop of either coriander seed, tangerine, mandarin, or roman chamomile essential oil to between 1 and 2.5 tablespoons carrier oil (depending on the source you consult). Gently massage the baby's tummy and lower back. Massage in a clockwise direction.

Another colic massage oil suggestion for babies at least 3 months old adapted from The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook:

  • 2 drops lavender essential oil
  • 2 drops roman chamomile essential oil
  • 1 drop ginger essential oil
  • 1 drop mandarin essential oil
  • 1/4 cup sweet almond oil

Other helpful books:

Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child by aromatherapist Valerie Ann Worwood gives you more than 300 essential oil blends safe for children.

Aromatherapy for Babies and Children by aromatherapist Shirley Price.

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