(Original publication in The Herb Companion Magazine Guest Blog 10/14/09)
This weekend my sister welcomed another grand baby to her family. It’s been a long time since I held my own newborn son in my arms, but as I looked at the pictures of the newest addition to our family on line, I began to think…Is there anything more precious than a newborn baby? Is there anything more confusing to the new parents?
This time of wonder and discovery is the perfect time for parents to unlock the benefits of aromatherapy and infant massage. By incorporating touch with botanicals, you increase the bond between parent and child while simultaneously creating a healthy, relaxing environment for both. Aromatherapy can be safe for infants and children as long as a few guidelines are observed. Never apply oils full strength to the baby’s skin. Since babies have a smaller amount of resistive tissue, adult doses can be considered toxic. Be sure to dilute to the following instructions : Babies and Toddlers: ½ the adult dose. This would be ¼ drop for every 3 drops in a standard blend. Since it is impossible to measure a ¼ of a drop, it is advisable to decrease the essential oil and increase the carrier oil or lotion. remember no where in aromatherapy is the ‘less is more’ approach more appropriate.
Safe Essential Oil Choices for Babies: Lavender, Chamomile and Rose
Children are naturals with aromatherapy. The sweet and floral scents calm them almost instantaneously. Older children who no longer will tolerate a back rub from mom or dad will most assuredly indulge in a foot massage (Especially after sports). All ages welcome the addition of essential oils in their bath tubs. Be sure to dilute these oils in an appropriate carrier oil according the recommendations below. Allow some flexibility to adjust the amounts if the child’s body size and weight is above or below average percentile for the child’s age. Your pediatrician can help you with this information.
Children: Factor age vs. body weight
5-8 years – 1/6th to 1/3rd the adult recommendation
8-12 years – 1/3th to ½ the adult recommendation
12-15 years – ½ to 2/3rd the adult recommendation
Safe Essential Oil Choices for Children: Lavender, Tea Tree, German or Roman Chamomile, Tangerine, Spearmint, Rose, Lemon, Ravensara, Eucalyptus and Rosemary.
Avoid the following oils for use with all children unless instructed by a reliable text or Certified Aromatherapist. All ‘spice oils’ such as: Clove, Cinnamon, Cassia, Nutmeg, Ginger, and Black Pepper. Other oils which should not be used with children are: Pennyroyal, Hyssops, Rue and Yarrow.
Avoid citrus oils if your children are playing out of doors since they may increase photosensitivity.
Use cold pressed, natural oils . Stay away from petroleum or chemical, mineral based oils (baby oil). These oils interfere with the solubility of vitamins and minerals within the essential oils. An easy rule for oils is if you can eat it – you can use it. (Olive oil, grapeseed are wonderful)
As a Licensed Massage Therapist and a Certified Infant Massage Instructor and practitioner I recommend infant massage for building a bond with your baby. Infant massage is a path that will lead to a lifetime of good communication and closeness. Numerous studies show impressive benefits, such as significant neurological development and absorption of nutrients. Well babies and their parents both win with infant massage. Parents raise their confidence and sensitivity to meeting their babies’ needs, allowing them to respond appropriately to baby’s cues. The special time spent together can help promote longer and deeper sleep patterns, help relieve colic or gas and helps babies and children develop a positive body image. Your touch will help baby relax and release accumulated tension by decreasing the production of stress hormones.
- How to give a rewarding Infant Massage (for you and baby): Make eye contact with baby. Watch baby’s expressions and note how your touch affects your child. Smile, sing and whisper to baby as you touch.
- Ask permission of your baby to touch each part. This simple act of respect also encourages verbalization and word associations for your baby and brings the art of a lifetime of communication into play.
- Use a gentle, but firm pressure when massaging. A confident touch is conveyed and baby’s sense of safety and love is reinforced.
Ready to begin? Enjoy the following formulas for baby.
To Promote Sleep Patterns in Well Babies:
1 ½ ounce Grapeseed Oil
1 drop Lavender
1 drop German Chamomile
Mix together and use during massage or one teaspoon in baby’s bath at night time when you want baby to fall asleep faster.
To Allieviate Gas & Upset Tummies:
1 drop Fennel
3 Ounces Grapeseed Oil
Apply to abdomen only. Use plain grapeseed for the remainder of a full body massage.
To Open Nasal Passages: Put a drop of Eucalyptus on a night light or into a humidifier as baby sleeps. Never apply this oil directly to baby. An aromatic bath for baby can be made by substituting one drop Eucalyptus or Ravensarafor the Fennel in the above formula. Use one Tablespoon in bath. Hold baby securely when bathing with oils.
So if you are lucky enough to be welcoming a new addition to your immediate or extended family, pass along this information.
Family bonds begin early and the skills and communications in those formative years can be key to a confident child. Babies grow up too quickly, take the time now to be as present as possible. Learn and grow with baby – and may you be ‘forever young’.
Clear My Head Ltd. & A Muse Sings, Inc.