Unfortunately, the number of essential oils you can actually use on your baby, toddler, or young child is rather limited. This is because of the potency of many essential oils and the fragility of your little one’s still-developing systems. I would recommend a kit of just 5 essential oils for your young ones, with the following important caveats: 1) Use 1/3 the dose you would use on an adult (so if an adult recipe calls for 9 drops, use 3) and 2) DON’T use ANY essential oils on or near an infant under 1 month. Here’s my kit: Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia or Lavandula officinalis), Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis), Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis), Dill (Anethum graveolens), and Spearmint (Mentha spicata). If, like me, you are disappointed that you can’t yet use your entire essential oils collection on your young children, then look on the bright side: using less of fewer essential oils will save you money, and besides, it’ll be less to pack when you travel.
- Lavender: As I’ve blogged previously, Lavender is the most versatile and necessary essential oil of all to have at home. From cuts and scrapes to mosquito bites to insomnia, this is your “go-to” oil. Lavender is also one of the few essential oils you can actually apply “neat” (meaning undiluted). So when my baby claws herself with her ever-growing nails, I put one drop on my finger and dab her scratch with it. When I want her to go to sleep, I fill up her little tub and put a single drop of Lavender in the water. Or, I put one drop on a cotton ball and rub her sheets with it at bedtime. To scent her clothes and make her feel at home when we travel, I put the cotton ball with the drop of Lavender on it in a plastic baggie, and add in her clothes that I am going to take on the trip. Lavender also works well in blends: try 4 drops Lavender and 2 drops Roman Chamomile in a diffuser if you want to set a deeply relaxing mood.
- Roman Chamomile: There is also a German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), which is blue in color and NOT the same thing (I like German Chamomile for skin care applications). Just make sure you are getting Roman Chamomile, which has the Latin name Anthemis nobilis. If you see Chamaemelum nobile, that is also Roman Chamomile. I use this oil as a tummy rub and teething remedy. For a tummy rub, I put 10 drops of Roman Chamomile in 1 ounce of Jojoba oil and mix it up well. Then, I take half a dropper-ful of that and rub her tummy in a clockwise direction whenever she seems gassy. For teething, see my holistic teething remedy #3 in this post.
- Sweet Orange: There is something about all the Citrus oils that is so uplifting, whether Lemon (Citrus limon), Bergamot (Citrus bergamia), Tangerine (Citrus reticulata), or Mandarin (also Citrus reticulata). I just use Sweet Orange because it is easy to get and inexpensive. If you want children to get along and/or calm down, blend Roman Chamomile and Sweet Orange in the diffuser, at the ratio of 2:5 (2 drops Roman Chamomile, 5 drops of Sweet Orange). This is because Roman Chamomile is SO strong, it will overpower the Sweet Orange if you add equal parts.
- Dill: Dill is a good colic or tummy-ache remedy, and is probably “stronger” (i.e., less gentle) than Roman Chamomile. I would use it the same way for a tummy rub as Roman Chamomile (i.e., add 10 drops to 2 ounces, then use half a dropper-ful of the mixture).
- Spearmint: Spearmint can be used in the same way as Peppermint (Mentha piperita), but it is less strong than Peppermint and therefore more suitable for children’s needs. It’s useful for headaches, tummy aches, and nausea/vomiting. To use it for headaches, I would blend 10 drops Spearmint in an ounce of Jojoba, then add 1-2 drops of the mixture to a cotton ball and apply it to the temples and back of the child’s neck. For tummy aches, I would add Spearmint to the Dill tummy rub formula (but cut the Dill in half and use 5 drops of Dill, 5 drops of Spearmint). For nausea/vomiting/motion sickness, it’s helped me to suck on a sugar cube with a drop of Spearmint on it – but if you don’t want your child sucking on sugar, you can also apply the Spearmint headache blend above to his/her wrists.
Keep in mind that all of these essential oils work well in blends, too. For example, a Dill-Chamomile-Spearmint blend would be good for upset tummies, a Lavender-Orange-Chamomile blend would be good for bedtime, and a Lavender-Chamomile-Spearmint blend would be good for anxiety/stress/tension headaches. So blend away – become the fragrant alchemist and create a happy, healthy home.