Trust your instinct – a beginner’s guide to using aromatherapy with children:
Essential oils are pure aromatic plant essences- they are distilled from flowers, fruit, leaves, resins, roots, seeds, and wood. They are used for their healing properties around the world. In the United States, we have free access to essential oils. However, with this comes to some important cautions; Only some of the essential oils available are appropriate for children; others are not. Furthermore, some are even dangerous to children(children with epilepsy should not come in contact with essential oils).
When used correctly, essential oils can be of great advantage, and will not conflict with your child’s clinically prescribed drugs. Always research the oil of choice thoroughly prior to using it with your infant or child. Ask for suggestions from a qualified professional, or see the recommendations at the end of this article.
That said, essential oils can be a wonderful method of supporting your child’s health, happiness, and well-being. Essential oils are used externally (on the exterior of the body) in your child’s bath, lotions, sunscreens, oils, creams, gels, compresses, foot baths, or in a diffuser. The impact of aromatherapy will generally fall under one of the 3 main classifications: 1) Assisting in healing from minor health problems and accidents, 2) Supporting your child’s general sense of well-being, and 3) Assisting your child in getting quality rest.
When using essential oils with your child, it is imperative that you find a reliable supplier of therapeutic grade essential oils, using organic or wildcrafted varieties when possible. Synthetic copies of oils that are frequently used in perfumery are not suitable and may be harmful to your child’s health. To maintain efficacy, essential oils should be kept in dark glass containers, in a dark and cool area, away from the child’s reach.
Techniques of Using Essential Oils
There are 2 methods of using essential oils with your child – INHALATION: through a diffuser, nebulizer, or adding to a humidifier, and TOPICAL APPLICATION: diluting the essential oil in a carrier oil and applying topically to the skin. Adding essential oils to a bath combinesthe2 techniques, though we will talk about it more under topical application.
For topical application, essential oils are diluted in varying strengths depending upon the use and age of your child. The concentration can vary from one drop of essential oil per tablespoon of carrier oil to a couple of drops per teaspoon of carrier added to a drawn bath, to an equal ratio of carrier oil and essential oil applied to your child’s feet (as in the case of gentle Lavender). Simply put, there is a huge variation in dilution levels depending upon the circumstances. Parents, do your research, and then trust your instinct. Only you and your child know precisely what is right for your situation.
General dilution rate guidelines of essential oils in one ounce of carrier oil are as follows:
- Age of Child and amount of Essential Oil per One Ounce Carrier Oil for Topical/Massage Application:
- For newborn – 6 months of age (Consult primary care doctor before usage):1-3 drops of essential oil/ ounce.
- For 6-12 months of age: 1 – 4 drops of essential oil/ounce.
- For 1-4 years of age: 5 – 8 drops of essential oil/ounce.
- For 6-7 years of age: 5 – 10 drops of essential oil/ounce.
- For 9-12 years of age: 5-12 drops of essential oil/ounce.
- For 12 years to young adult: 10 – 15 drops of essential oil/ounce
DO NOT USE AN ESSENTIAL OIL NEAT (pure) on children’s skin, unless indicated to do so for a specific condition. If your child has extremely sensitive skin, it is important to test a small area before using a single oil or a blend. Keep essential oils away from the eyes. When using citrus oils (orange, bergamot, lemon, tangerine, mandarin, and lime), do not use where the skin will be exposed to sunlight for the next 12 hours. These oils are considered to be ‘phototoxic’ and can react to the sun’s rays. They might be used in a bath, however, where they will be washed off the skin when the bath is done.
Essential oils are not to be taken orally (by mouth). When your child is taking medications, reduce the amount of essential oil by half of the recommended quantity for their age group.
Carrier oils for children.
Almond oil is generally considered to be the safest and best carrier oil for use with babies, infants, and children. Apricot kernel oil is also considered to be extremely safe with children over the age of 6 years old. Jojoba oil can be added at about 10% concentration for any blend because it has a soothing effect on the skin and is good for hair.
Topical Application – Nurturing Touch Massage Recipes.
There is nothing better for a child than a loving, nurturing touch of a parent. A gentle hug, smile, or a kiss on the cheek assures the child and assists a parent and child to bond. These forms of connections are instinctual, and the children flourish from it.
Research shows that massage can help children’s growth both physically and emotionally. In medical centers, studies done with premature babies, show that touch is a necessary aspect of the children’s ability to flourish.
Using aromatherapeutic nurturing touch massage can be healing to both the child and the parent. Using a light, conscientious touch, you can massage your child’s feet, arms, hands, back, abdomen, and legs. The massage should always be done with loving intention and the work is done in a direction that the blood flows from ankles to leg; wrist to shoulder, and so on.