Aromatherapy for Babies

This page looks at aromatherapy for babies - how to use essential oils and hydrosols with babies safely and effectively.

Aromatherapy for Babies Many people wonder if they can use essential oils directly on their babies.

On the Internet, we can easily find sites and even YouTube videos that suggest using undiluted oil or oil blends on small children, even babies. I can’t stress enough that that is a very dangerous practice and I would urge readers not to follow such practice.

As mentioned many times on this site, essential oils are very concentrated and a little goes a long way.

Babies have delicate skin and their body systems are not yet strong and fully developed.  They don’t usually need something as strong and potent as essential oils to support their health.

Aromatherapy for Babies: Hydrosols

If you want to use aromatherapy goodies on your baby, try using gentle goodies, such as hydrosols, massage oils or body butters. Do not use essential oils directly on their skin.

Hydrosols are co-produced with essential oils during the distillation extraction process. They are milder, gentler and safer on babies’ delicate skin and body systems. However, even with hydrosols, we need to understand that not all hydrosols are good for use on babies. According to Susanne Catty (2001), for babies and children under 2 years old, use only hydrosols of Lavender, Roman Chamomile, and German Chamomile.

For example, you can add half a teaspoon to one teaspoon (depending on the size of your tub) of Lavender and/or Roman Chamomile hydrosol to a baby bath of warm water. Both these hydrosols are sedative and good for babies’ delicate skin.

You can also mix equal portions of Lavender and R. Chamomile hydrosols and dilute the mixture 50% with water. Put this in a sterilized spray bottle. Spray it on baby wipes to clean your baby’s bum.

However, there are times when undiluted hydrosols can be used. For example:

Undiluted German Chamomile can be used for cradle cap, eczema, or diaper rash. Apply the hydrosol to a cotton ball and compress on the affected area for 30 seconds to one minute. Repeat with a fresh cotton ball.

To reduce teething pain, put a little G. Chamomile hydrosol on your finger and rub it into the baby’s gums. Do this 3 times a day.

Hydrosols can also be used to calm down a crying baby. Use Lavender or G. Chamomile hydrosol to spritz the baby’s room, crib, bedding, car seat, etc. You can also put one drop of either of the above hydrosol on the baby’s pillow to help him/her sleep better.

Diffusing Essential Oils around Babies

How about using essential oils with babies? For example, can we diffuse EOs around babies?

You definitely can if you use gentle and safe oils! For example, to relax an agitated baby, you can use 5 drops of oils that are calming and sedative (e.g. 3 drops Lavender, 2 drops Roman chamomile) in a diffuser and let it run for a short time (e.g. 15 minutes). Do not let the diffuser run too long as the scent may overwhelm the baby.

Here is another excellent “passive” way of using essential oils with babies: Put a gentle oil in an unscented lotion (e.g. 5 drops of Lavender in 30 ml of lotion) and put a small dab of the lotion on the mother (not the baby). For example, before breastfeeding, put a dab of the lotion on the mother’s shoulder, or on the mother’s (or father’s) back while holding the baby before bed. The baby can still smell the calming oil, which can relax the baby without overwhelming him/her.

As always, keep your essential oils out of the reach of babies (and small kids and pets!).

Catty, S. (2001). Hydrosols: The Next Aromatherapy. Healing Arts Press.