The use of essential oils and babies
Aromatherapy is an ancient practice that began over 3500 years ago. Today, it is used as an alternative therapy and has increased in demand and popularity. At home DIYs with essential oils can be very beneficial, however it's important to know the precise concentrations for babies and how to use them safely. According to the National Institute of Aromatherapy and various medical journals, infants require the essential oil dilution to be 0.5% or below due to their lower body surface areas compared to adults.
Babies, like adults, are born with all senses. A baby's sense of smell first starts in the womb. In the first trimester, the nostrils are formed and the receptors are formed in the second trimester. They are extremely sensitive to scent and their strong sense is closely tied to memories, especially a mother’s breastmilk. This is why babies can recognize people or places according to smell. Certain aromas such as almond, lavender, and vanilla are known to calm and relax a baby. Parents have used essential oils to help babies sleep, reduce pain and stress, gain weight and to help aid in digestion.
Although more research needs to be conducted, there have been links to lavender and tea tree oil in high concentrations that may cause abnormal breast growth. Lavender and tea tree oil have phytoestrogens, which are substances that mimic the hormone estrogen. A study published in the New England Journal by Dr. Bloch led to a further study by the National Institute of Health Sciences to study the two oils in high concentrations may disrupt the endocrine system.
By Damandeep Johal, MD