When used properly, essential oils can replace just about everything in your medicine cabinet. They are a natural, safe, fast, and effective way of treating everything from insomnia to bee stings. Many parents (especially those who prefer natural healing methods) have found that essential oils work better than most over-the-counter medications available for infants.
Your baby is your pride and joy, and every parent knows how difficult it is to watch them suffer and not be able to do anything about it. Knowing about essential oils and how to use them can help you help your baby. Once you know the basics, you can be on your way to solving everything from upset tummies to getting your baby to sleep through the night.
A Few Facts About Essential Oils
Essential oils are as pure as it gets. They are actually made by pressing the fruit (or leaf, or whatever the case may be) until the oil is expelled. Nothing is more powerful than the oil that a plant has to offer, and it is exceptionally difficult to extract the oils. For example, Neroli or orange blossom oil is one of the priciest oils you can buy; but that’s easy to understand when you consider the fact that it takes 1,000 pounds of the orange blossoms to make just one pound of oil.
Essential oils are extremely potent and must be handled with care. When using them (especially on infants) you should never apply them directly to the skin (with the exception of tea tree and lavender). The oil should be diluted by mixing a drop or two of the essential oil with a few drops of a "carrier oil." Some examples of carrier oils include coconut oil, sweet almond oil, grape seed oil, jojoba oil, and olive oil.
You must know the effects each oil has, what they are used to treat, and how they are best used. Essential oils can be applied directly to the skin or inhaled as a type of aromatherapy. There are oils that should never be applied to the skin and even more oils that should never be used on babies. Make sure that you know about each oil you are going to use before you use it on your baby. Also keep in mind that it is not recommended to use essential oils on babies until they are at least 4 months old.
If you choose to diffuse an oil, use an actual essential oil diffuser. These get the oil into the air without messing with their makeup. Heating the oil or diluting it in water will make it less effective.
A few helpful hints: when massaging an oil onto your baby, always use your hands in a circular, clockwise motion; this is believed to be the natural flow of the body. Also, the fastest way to get anything into your bloodstream is by putting it on the bottoms of your feet; keep this in mind when you are trying to offer your baby quick comfort.
If your baby ever has an adverse reaction to an essential oil, rub more of the carrier oil onto his skin. This also applies to getting oils in your or baby’s eyes; don’t flush with water, use the carrier oil to dilute the essential oil.
Which Oils to Use and When
To help you see the numerous benefits of essential oils and when and how to use them, we’ve compiled a list of the most frequent issues that babies face, which oils are used to treat these issues, and how best to use them.
• Colic – Almost any parent can tell you that "colic" is the last thing they want to have to face when they bring their new baby home. It’s essentially an untreatable issue that doctors believe has something to do with the baby’s stomach. The baby cries and cries and cannot be comforted, which can be extremely draining. Rosemary, ylang ylang, bergamot, ginger, marjoram, mandarin, or Roman chamomile will all help to soothe baby. Mix a few drops of any of these oils with a couple tablespoons of a carrier oil and massage onto baby’s belly and back. Putting a warm washcloth over the baby’s stomach afterwards will also help.
• Constipation – Self-explanatory enough, constipation is an issue you will face more than once. To help, dilute any of the following oils and massage onto the stomach and the bottoms of the feet: orange, rosemary, ginger, mandarin.
• To help a particularly fussy baby that just won’t stop crying, use oils like frankincense, geranium, rose otto, or cypress. You can either dilute these and massage them onto baby or diffuse them.
• Lavender and Chamomile are excellent treatments for diaper rash. Dilute one or both in a carrier oil and apply.
• Fever – Peppermint oil on the bottom of baby’s feet will bring down a fever within minutes. Be sure to dilute it however, because it feels extremely cold. Lavender will also help to calm baby down. You can also diffuse either of these.
• Ears – Babies are notorious for getting earaches and ear infections. Any of these oils on a cotton swab and rubbed around and behind the ear will offer some relief: lavender, tea tree, Roman chamomile or sweet thyme.
• Colds – Since infants cannot take cold medications, having essential oils on hand could be a lifesaver. Cedarwood, tea tree, lemon, rosemary, and sandalwood are all great oils to diffuse. You can also dilute 1 drop of rose, 2 drops of tea tree, and 1 drop of lemon. Massage these onto baby’s neck and chest; it works even better than Vicks!
• Teething – Clove essential oil has amazing numbing properties. Adults can apply it directly to a toothache, but it must be diluted for babies. Use an organic oil and mix 2 drops of the clove oil with 1 teaspoon of the carrier oil. Use a clean finger and massage it onto baby’s gums.