Essential oils are everywhere! You may be considering using one on your baby. Before you do, there are a few things to consider. What are essential oils? And- what are the safe essential oils for babies?
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are simply the oils from plants that they are extracted from. These oils are not essential for health but, rather, they are the essence of the plant’s signature scent. The oils can be extracted from plants by different methods including distillation, direct expression, and solvent extraction (using chemical to extract the desired oil).
The most common essential oils on the market include Roman chamomile, Clary sage, Eucalyptus globulus, Eucalyptus radiata, Lavender, Lemongrass, Mandarin, Neroli, Peppermint, Rosemary, Tea tree, Thyme, Ylang ylang, coconut oil, sunflower oil, calendula oil, chamomile oil, almond oil, and olive oil.
Why use essential oils for babies?
Essential oils are commonly used for a baby massage. The combination of the massage with the essential oil provides your baby with a soothing, calming, and nurturing experience. In these recent years, aromatherapy and massage has gained traction in our modern culture to find a center of peace within ourselves. Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils for their curative properties. For example, anti-inflammatory oils include lemongrass, thyme, and tea tree oils. Calming and soothing oils are chamomile, lavender, and sage oils. Through aromatherapy, essential oils are commonly inhaled or applied to the skin by massage. There are many claimed benefits from essential oils including anti-inflammatory potential, calming and soothing properties, and healing relief. Chamomile is known to be anti-inflammatory as well as calming and soothing for children.
Safe essential oil profile
When choosing a safe essential oil for you and your baby, first consider the quality of the oil. Other safety considerations include the skin irritancy of the oil, allergy potential of the oil and the photosensitization of the oil. Important to know- undiluted essential oils can be significantly irritating to the skin. Most essential oils are significantly diluted to 0.5 to 2% concentration. Essential oils commonly known to cause skin irritancy at higher percentages are oils from bay leaf, cinnamon leaf or bark, clove bud, citronella, lemongrass, oregano, and thyme. Allergy potential is an important risk of using essential oils chronically on your baby’s skin. Since these oils commonly come from plants, there can be poison-ivy like rashes caused by essential oils. Allergic sensitization occurs after repeated use of a substance. After repeated use, the body’s immune system decides to target a specific protein in that substance and become allergic to it. This can happen randomly. The essential oils having a higher allergic potential are cinnamon leaf or bark, Ylang ylang, Jasminum grandiflorum, and Balsam of Peru. Safe essential oils for your baby with a lower allergenic potential are oils from lavender, rosemary, and thyme. Finally, photosensitization reactions occur when a substance has a reaction with the ultraviolet rays and then that altered substance produces a reaction or rash on the skin. Common photosensitizers include Bergamot, Citrus limonum, Citrus senensis, and Cumin.
Safe essential oils for babies:
Here is a brief synopsis of commonly used safe essential oils for babies. Read the details on these oils as they do not have a perfect profile. Consider coconut oil and sunflower oil as your first safe essential oils for baby to try first.
- Coconut oil
- This is the best massage oil for babies with any skin type, including sensitive skin and eczema prone skin. It is very moisturizing, least irritating and has a low allergy potential.
- Use virgin coconut oil.
- Coconut oil contains lauric acid. It is the lauric acid that offers antibacterial properties.
- Sunflower oil
- Sunflower oil is another massage oil for babies that can be used on all skin types, including sensitive skin and eczema prone skin.
- Sunflower oil is high in linoleic acid and has been shown to boost ceramide production in our skin. Ceramides are the skin oils/fats that are produced by our skin to enhance hydration and barrier protection.
- Sunflower oil offers anti-inflammatory properties.
- Olive oil
- Be cautious of using olive oil as a massage oil for your baby.
- Olive oil is low in the fatty acid linoleic acid (strengthens skin barrier) and high in oleic acid (weakens skin barrier).
- Olive oil has been shown to possibly damage the skin barrier and cause some irritation and redness when applied routinely.
- Calendula oil
- Calendula oil comes from the flowers of the pot marigold, Calendula officinalis.
- Calendula oil can be considered as a massage oil for babies. It offers anti-inflammatory properties, but be cautious using it chronically for concern of allergy potential.
- Consider blending calendula oil with either sunflower oil or coconut oil.
- Chamomile oil
- The most common varieties of chamomile oil used are German chamomile and Roman chamomile.
- Chamomile oil can be used as a massage oil for babies, but again, be cautious of using it chronically for concern of allergy potential.
- Chamomile oil has long been used in the treatment of eczema. It is thought to offer anti-inflammatory properties.
- Consider blending chamomile oil with either sunflower or coconut oil as its mild scent can be soothing during your baby’s massage.