Essential oils used to be what you might find in your hippie aunt's medicine cabinet when you were looking for cough medicine, but as parents strive to find cleaner, less chemical-filled options to help prevent sickness, promote concentration, help them relax, or even scrub the countertops, the popularity of theses scent-packed fluids has increased. Essential oils are becoming a common household product, which means many parents need to know, are essential oils safe for your baby?
If you are going to use essential oils around or on your baby, there are a few guidelines you need to follow to ensure your baby's safety, such as not allowing them to ingest any of the fluid, and using a diluted amount. Knowing which ones are safe to use and how to use them is critical because essential oils can cause seizures in babies and children if they are used improperly, according to Naturopathic Pediatrics.
The site's founder, Neuropathic physician Dr. Erika Krumbeck, explained, "The bottom line is: essential oils can be neurotoxic to children." She cautioned that parents can easily forget how concentrated essential oils are. "Remember that one drop of essential oil is equivalent to 15-40 cups of medicinal tea, or up to 10 teaspoons of tincture. Would you ever give a child 40 cups of tea, or 10 teaspoons of tincture? My goodness, I hope not." She points to several cases reported by the National Institutes for Health where children or babies died of seizures after ingesting essential oils like sage, eucalyptus and fennel. Adults shouldn't be ingesting the oils either, she explains, as they can cause ulcers, chronic gastroenteritis, and asthma.
Additionally, instead of using them directly on the skin, essential oils should always be diluted in a "carrier oil," like coconut or vegetable oil because the strong concentration of undiluted oils can cause contact dermatitis (aka contact eczema). This applies to adults and babies alike, but you'll want to make an even weaker dilution for babies. WikiHow suggests using essential oils only on babies older than 3 months, because their newborn skin is very sensitive.
Once your baby hits the 3-month mark, "the maximum recommended amount of essential oils used on babies 3+ months topically, should not exceed .2% of the recipe, or 1-2 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil," recommended the Hippy Homemaker. And which essential oils are safe to use at that age, so long as they are diluted? Dill, chamomile, lavender, and yarrow. However, it is important to know that there is very little clinical information about the safety of these liquids around young ones in general, so it's best to check with your doctor before using essential oils with your child.
The American College of Healthcare Sciences (ACHS) suggests doing a patch test to check for allergies before you use an essential oil on your baby. To do this, dilute a few drops of the diluted essential oil on the inside of your baby's elbow, then watch for a reaction for 24 hours, explains WikiHow. If you don't see a reaction, like a change in their alertness or difficulty breathing, this indicates the baby won't likely have a reaction.
Another way to use essential oils around your baby is to put them in a cool air humidifier. You'll want to stay away from using essential oils in a warm air humidifier because "heating the oils can damage their therapeutic properties," explained Yankee Homestead. (Plus they're not advised around babies.) If your humidifier allows for essential oils to be used, the instruction manual will explain the necessary steps and call out where you can find the special chamber to add in the oil. Pouring oil into the water chamber is not advised as it will damage your appliance, explained Hunker.
If you're not using a humidifier but would still like to use essential oils in your home or in your baby's room, you can get a diffuser which is designed to nebulize them into tiny particles and literally diffuse them into your room.
The ACHS also reminded parents that essential oils need to be stored correctly and tossed once they are expired as they are more likely to cause allergic reactions past their due date, which is the last thing you want to be dealing with when you're simply trying to keep your kid healthy. And whatever method you choose, run it by your doctor to ensure that you are 100 percent comfortable with using essential oils around your baby, and how.
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