Essential oil treatments can be used very safely and effectively to help children, provided that certain safety precautions are observed. Children generally respond very well to aromatherapy and all natural forms of healing, partly because they have no preformed expectations or prejudices about what is involved, and partly because young bodies have excellent powers of recuperation. Their powers of self-healing have not yet been impaired by years of faulty diet, stress, unhealthy lifestyle, environmental pollution etc - which is not intended to imply that children are not affected by these factors. On the contrary, they are far more vulnerable to them on account of their smaller body-weight in relation to any potential poison, but they are able to quickly throw off poisons and infecting organisms, given the right healing environment, because their bodies have not been clogged by a toxic accumulation built up over many years.
All the simple self-help uses of essential oils, such as baths, inhalations, compresses and air-sprays are valuable in treating childhood ailments, and babies and young children respond very well to simple massage. There is no need for any mother to have specialist training in massage techniques to be able to gently rub and soothe a child's pains away, although there are one or two excellent books suggesting ways of going about this. From birth onwards every mother touches her infant when bathing, changing, dressing, feeding and so forth, and this can be very easily extended into a gentle massage with diluted essential oils. As a child grows older, the amount of body-contact with the mother often decreases but this can be avoided if children become accustomed to regular massages from mother right through from babyhood. Perhaps this can be incorporated as a regular part of bathing and bedtime?
General dilution rate guidelines of essential oils in one ounce of carrier oil:
|Age of Child
||Dilution 1 Ounce Carrier Oil
| Newborn (Consult primary care profesional before use)
|| 1 - 3 drops essential oil per ounce
||1 - 3 drops essential oil per ounce
||1 - 4 drops essential oil per ounce
|1-4 years (unless very small)
||5 - 8 drops essential oil per ounce
||5 - 10 drops essential oil per ounce
||5 - 12 drops essential oil per ounce
|12 years to young adult
||10- 15 drops essential oil per ounce
DO NOT USE AN ESSENTIAL OIL NEAT (undiluted ) on children’s skin, unless indicated to do so for a specific condition. If your child has very sensitive skin, it is important to test a small area before using a new single oil or blend. Keep essential oils away form the eyes. Essential oils are not to be taken orally (by mouth). When your child is taking medications, reduce the amount of essential oil by half the amount recommended for their age group.
Carrier oils for children
Sweet Almond oil is generally regarded as the safest and best overall carrier oil for use with babies and children. Apricot kernel oil is also considered extremely safe with children over 6. Jojoba oil can be added at about 10% concentration for any blend – it has a soothing effect on the skin and is good for hair.
The regular use of essential oils in the home, in baths, massages, air sprays or maybe an essential oil 'burner' is a very effective form of preventive medicine, and will often help children to avoid colds and other infections. However, young children have not yet fully developed their immune systems, and particularly when they begin school or playgroup and are in the company of other children (often in hot classrooms) they will inevitably develop colds and other infectious illnesses. When this happens, essential oil therapies can considerably reduce the discomfort of these illnesses and often help to shorten their duration and prevent secondary infections.
Research shows that massage can help children’s growth both physically and emotionally. In hospitals, studies done with premature baby’s show that touch is an essential aspect of the children’s ability to thrive.
Using Nurturing Touch Massage can be therapeutic to both the child and the parent. Using a light, conscientious tough you can massage your child’s feet, arms, hands, back, abdomen, and even legs. The massage should always be done with loving intention and the work is done in the direction that the blood flows-from ankles to leg; from wrist to shoulder, etc.
Here are a few suggested blends for this wonderful method – each is in one (1) ounce of Sweet Almond oil:
Restful Sleep – 4 drops lavender, 2 drops Roman Chamomile
Happy Child – 3 drops Rose, 1 drop Neroli
Calm and Relaxed – 3 drops Petitgrain, 3 drops Neroli
Emotional Nurturing – 1 drop Rose Otto, 1 drop Vanilla, 2 drops Lavender
For a Baby oil blend, to be used as a moisturizer OR massage oil (note: the frequent washing of a baby's skin actually makes it difficult for them to retain vitamin C; application of a quality skin oil will help them keep adequate supplies of this important nutrient).
1 ounce of organic sweet almond oil or hazelnut oil
1 drop of pure Lavender essential oil
1 drop of Vanilla essential oil
1 ounce of organic sweet almond oil
2 drops of pure Lavender essential oil
1 drop of pure Chamomile (German) essential oil
The above blends can also be added to the bath. One teaspoon with the following amount of essential oils added can be added AFTER the bath is filled, per the age of the child: 3-5 years, 2 drops; 6-8 years, 3 drops; 8-11 years, 5 drops. Perhaps the easiest way to do this would be to make a full strength blend (without carrier oil) of your choice, then dilute as needed for the application.
The oils can also be used to treat minor injuries - the bruises, cuts, minor burns, grazes and insect stings that any normally active child is bound to suffer.
The safety precautions which must be observed when using essential oils for children are as follows:
1. Never use an undiluted essential oil on a child (with the sole
exception of small amounts of lavender on minor burns or
2. Always dilute essential oils before adding them to a bath for a
3. Use less oil - up to 4 drops for a child - than you would in
preparing a bath for an adult.
4. Use lower dilutions when mixing a massage oil for a child:
between 1% and 2% dilution, as opposed to the average 3%
dilution used for an adult.
5. Never leave a young child alone with a bowl of hot water
when giving an inhalation, but supervise him or her the
6. Give inhalations for only a few seconds initially - maybe half
a minute: and increase this to a minute or two if the child
tolerates the shorter inhalations.
7. NEVER GIVE ESSENTIAL OILS BY MOUTH.
8. Avoid all the essential oils described as toxic or slightly toxic
(see the entries for each individual oil)
9. Never attempt to treat serious illness without referring to a
medically qualified practitioner - your G.P., a homoeopath
or medical herbalist. Call your doctor or other qualified
person immediately if your child is running a high temperature, is badly burnt, has convulsions or any other sign that
he or she is in serious difficulty.
10. Call your doctor or other qualified practitioner if minor
conditions do not improve within 24 hours.
Apart from the occasions when children have a recognisable 'illness', there are many times when they are just a little off-colour, fractious, not sleeping, or overexcited, and once again, simple aromatherapy methods will do a great deal to smooth out these little 'hiccups'. The great panacea is a warm (not too hot) bath with 2 to 4 drops of pre-diluted oil of Camomile or Lavender added. Both of these oils have gently soothing, calming and sedative properties (among many others) which will help to dispel tears and tantrums, ease aches and promote gentle, natural sleep.
Camomile, in particular, is regarded as 'the children's oil' on account of its very gentle nature, absence of toxicity and appropriateness to so many of the problems of infancy and early childhood - teething, rashes, tummy upsets, and so forth. As mentioned above, it should never be used in the form of the pure essential oil, but the dilute oil can be used in baths and massage and there are several excellent creams based on Camomile, especially made for infant care, also Chamomilla pilules from homoeopathic chemists.
Other oils which are especially suitable for children are Lavender - already mentioned - Rose, Benzoin and Mandarin, plus Peppermint in very small amounts as it can be overstimulating. The properties and uses of each of these oils are described under their individual entries.
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