Essential oils: Are they safe to use for babies

Essential oils: Are they safe to use for babies

Essential oils are obtained from spices, flowers and other vegetables. We can use essential oils in a diffuser, as well as adding them to the skin during aromatherapy massage.

The article will discuss how essential oils can help babies and also whether they are safe to use.

Essential oils for babies

Essential oils for babies
People should not use essential oils on babies younger than 3 months.

There is some evidence of the advantages of essential oils, but very little work about how babies may be affected by such chemicals.

It is important to remember that the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians does not advocate the use of essential oils on children younger than 3 months at all.

During a baby massage people can use diluted essential oils or undiluted sunflower or grapeseed oil. Studies show that baby massage in preterm infants can increase weight gain, promote growth and decrease irritability and sleep disorders.

Although using oil or cream to massage a baby is not necessary, this will make the process easier by making the parent or caregiver’s hand slide more smoothly over the skin.

Lavender oil

A research published in 2016 found some evidence that lavender oil can help relieve baby pain. One research showed that neonates who smelled lavender felt less discomfort and a lower heart rate than those in a control group when undergoing a heel prick check.

Another study concluded that a massage of the lavender oil aromatherapy can reduce the symptoms of colic.

Chamomile oil

Chamomile is a popular home remedy for adults suffering from sleeplessness, and may also benefit infants.

Although there is little medical evidence to prove that chamomile helps in sleep, some people consider that adding a few drops of chamomile oil to a warm bath or diffuser can have a sedative, soothing effect.

Sunflower oil

A carrier oil is a common alternative for sunflower oil. The vegetable oil is high in linoleic acid which makes it a perfect choice for a sensitive skin infant.

Some infants have sensitive skin, and eczema can develop. One study found that while sunflower oil improved skin hydration, olive oil weakened the skin barrier and could worsen existing skin issues.

How to use

There is a range of ways to use essential oils for babies, including:

In a baby massage

Though baby massage routines differ by baby’s needs, a good starting point is the following steps:

  1. Warm a small amount of the diluted oil by rubbing it between your hands.
  2. Gently rub the oil into the baby’s skin, starting on their legs. Use just enough pressure to move the skin gently.
  3. To massage the baby’s chest and belly, spread your hands out towards the sides of the baby as if flattening the pages of a book. Use your fingers to make small circles.

In bath water

A few drops of chamomile or lavender oil can help to soothe and relax the baby in the tub at bath time. In addition, if bedtime occurs soon after, this can help the baby sleep.

In a diffuser at bedtime

There is a range of diffusers available in stores which release the fragrance of the essential oils into the air. Some do have colored soothing lights to help the baby sleep.

Following the diffuser instructions is important, and keeping the space well ventilated. Do not use any essential oils, such as the ones mentioned below, that can be harmful to the infant.

Are they safe to use?

Essential oils
Always dilute essential oils with an appropriate carrier oil.

People who are younger than 3 months should not use essential oils on or around children.

People should stop using essential oils in premature babies until at least 3 months after their due date.

People should never apply undiluted essential oils to child and baby bodies.

Dilute the oil with a suitable carrier oil, instead. Examples of suitable carrier oils are the sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, and coconut oil.

The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) recommends a simple 0.5 to 2.5 percent dilute the essential oil.

Eating or drinking essential oils is likewise unhealthy.

Babies have sensitive skin and people can stop using essential oils that are known skin irritants, such as:

  • thyme
  • oregano
  • citronella
  • cinnamon bark or leaf
  • bay
  • cumin
  • lemongrass
  • lemon verbena
  • clove bud
  • tagetes

Researchers often warn people not to use olive oil as a carrier oil, as it can harm the skin.

NAHA also recommends that the following rising essential oils be avoided during pregnancy and breast-feeding:

  • aniseed
  • birch
  • camphor
  • basil
  • sage
  • parsley seed
  • tarragon
  • wormwood
  • wintergreen

Holding essential oils away from a baby’s airways is also important. Applying diluted oils to the baby’s feet is safe, as long as the baby does not bring their feet near their mouth.

Diluting oils properly before they are used in a diffuser would also reduce the risk of adverse respiratory reactions.

If the baby has asthma or is at risk of developing asthma due to a family history of the disease, people do not use aroma diffusers.


There are few studies looking at how effective aromatherapy is for children. Some of the oils have been shown to have some effects, such as lavender and chamomile oil.

Many essential oils, as long as a person takes certain precautions, are safe for use with infants. Those involve never using undiluted essential oils on the skin of a infant, and keeping the oils out of control.

Persons should never consume essential oils, or encourage a baby to consume them.

Many oils can be poisonous or irritate a baby’s skin, so first testing the oil is important, and if in doubt, talking to a doctor.