Today we are going to dive into something a little more debated: essential oil safety for infants. In recent years, there’s been a shift in the natural health world, where many families are learning that perhaps the word ‘natural’ does not always mean ‘safe’. Interesting concept, yes? Let’s talk about it!
When something is completely natural, we often instinctively assume that it’s also safe. But this world has been fearfully and wonderfully made! Poison Ivy, snake venom, even the arsenic found in apple seeds are all natural things!! Sea salt is a wonderful substance but if you ingest too much without enough water, the effects can be disastrous! It’s always good to be aware of a) what natural substance we are choosing to use and b) how that substance should be administered (or diluted). Today I’d love to share a few things that I’ve learned along the way 😉
First up: pure essential oils are very potent and it is our belief is that they should only be used for infants discerningly. Let me explain. To manufacture Lavender essential oil, it takes about 100 lbs of lavender flowers to make only 2 cups of essential oil!!! That is a lot of plant essence packed into a very small amount of liquid! Essential oils are potent, and pack amazing abilities to heal, disinfect, stimulate the brain, etc ,etc. But it’s also good to remember that something this powerful, when used improperly, can also have unintended consequences.
OK. Time for an INTERMISSION:
Please, please, please, PLEASE don’t let this scare you away from using essential oils!!! I myself have used essential oils all my life (thanks to my beautiful, crunchy mother), and looking back, I’ve even used some incorrectly in my younger years. Learning is always the human condition, and as we learn better-we can do better. So if you’ve had a similar experience, let’s not dwell on any past decisions, but instead look forwards together. I want to write this post not to cause fear, but to inform and empower everyone in the realm of their own natural health journey! With a few pointers and tips, you might even find yourself reading product labels and well meaning blog articles with a new lens. And I think that is awesome! 🙂
(insert picture of a ridiculously cute child to lighten the mood! heehee)
Okay, back to essential oils and babies.
Essential oils are natural and powerful and amazing. And though many may be too powerful for infants, fear not! I will show you a few oils that are safe to use, the ratio at which to dilute them, and even some alternative ways to access the healing powers of herbs without using essential oils at all! Awesome, right ?! 🙂 Ok. Let’s do this…
Oil Me Up
From birth- 6 mo old: It’s typically recommend to abstain completely from using essentials oils at this age. Instead, it would be better to consider herbal oils or hydrosols if herbal support is needed. ( I will talk more about these in a minute…)
From age 6mo-2 years: The essential oils that are generally considered to be safe at this age are Lavender, Chamomile, and Blue Yarrow. That being said, these oils do need to be diluted 0.25% into a carrier oil (the equivalent of 1 drop of essential oil in 4 tsp of a carrier oil) to be used appropriately.
From age 2-6 years: There are many more essential oils that are good to use as children get older. Instead of listing all the safe oils, I am going to share some of the important oils to avoid during this age, in efforts to keep the list a bit shorter! Also note that the recommended dilution for children aged 2-6 years is still 0.25%
So for children aged 6 and under, perhaps consider avoiding the following essential oils: Anise, Cajeput, Cardamom, Eucalyptus*, Fennel, Niaouli, Peppermint*, Rosemary, White Sage, and Wintergreen*.
Any essential oils with a high Menthol content (any of the mint* varieties) or any oils with a high 1,8-Cineole content (the bolded oils) are especially important to be aware of. Menthol and Cineole can potentially cause respiration to drastically slow down in some young children.
Another Quick Note: Please don’t freak out if you have used any of these oils on your sweet little children. We parents are not given a perfect handbook of rules and guidelines, and we are all just doing the best we know how. I myself used to make a vapor rub for my eldest son with eucalyptus AND peppermint. Le sigh. But the good news? If you’ve used any of these oils for your child and he or she was fine, then he or she is still just fine! Just move forward in your new understanding. 🙂 Reactions to menthol and cineole are pretty rare, yet they’re good to be aware of for the future.
But what if my baby needs herbal support?
Well we’ve looked at a few essential oils that are safe to use and how to dilute them, and we’ve also noted a few oils to steer clear of. Great!! 🙂 But as promised, I’d also like to share a couple ways to access the therapeutic benefits of healing herbs without using essential oils at all! And here they are:
You might notice that we use a LOT of herbal oils at Red Lemon. Herbal oils are made from ‘steeping’ herbs in a carrier oil. They contain all of the essence of an herb, just like essential oils, but in a milder form. This makes them suitable for all manner of applications where essential oils would be too strong or abrasive. With herbal oils, you can add as many or as little herbs as you’d like to achieve the strength you are looking for, and you can also mix a few herbs together for a powerful, synergistic combo. Herbal oils are my fave.
There are 2 ways make herbal oils: hot-infusion and cold-infusion. Hot infusion involves adding herbs to a carrier oil and slowly heating the mix in a double boiler (with the lid on!!!) for an hour or two. Cold infusion involves adding herbs to a jar with a carrier oil and allowing them to steep over a long period of time (typically 4-6 weeks). At Red Lemon we use cold-infusion for our herbal oils, but you can experiment with both and see what you think!
An example of how to use an herbal oil would be our baby balm. First we make an herbal oil of organic chamomile, lavender and calendula, and once it’s finished, we turn that oil into a baby balm. We actually add a similar herbal oil to our baby wash, as well. This world is abundant in natural, wholesome goodness! Research your herbs and see what you can come up with!
“Um, what in the world is a hydrosol?” Yeah, that’s what I thought the first time I heard about them! A hydrosol, also sometimes called a ‘Floral Water’, is a mild water-based herbal infusion made from steam distilling plant material. Hydrosols are another great way to access the benefits of healing herbs without them being too potent.
An example of how you can use a hydrosol for babies would be rubbing a chamomile hydrosol on sore teething gums. Or Spritzing a Lavender hydrosol around a nursery to help send little ones off to dream land. And in case you might be wondering where you to get something like this, hydrosols can be purchased at most soap-making supply shops/online stores. 🙂
And they lived Happily ever after…..
So please be happy! Sometimes navigating this world as a conscientious and concerned parent can seem an arduous, exhausting job. But I hope that these few tidbits of information can give you more confidence in how you approach natural solutions for your baby. So, go you! You’re rocking it! 🙂
And in addition, you now also know the safety standards that Red Lemon holds for ourselves when formulating our baby products.
In the end, just know your basics and don’t stress out by micro-analyzing everything too much. Remember: your baby is still probably going to eat dirt, lick windows, and kiss slugs. Trust me, this mom of 3 is speaking from experience 😉
Take care until next time,
Click Here to check out our online shop! —-> www.red-lemon.ca
Please note: I am not a doctor. My writings come from much research, consulting with professionals, and my own first hand experience. So please don’t try suing me for something or whatever. Apparently I need to write this because the internet can be an odd place…..