I was first introduced to essential oils 2-years ago – just a few weeks after Otis was born – and I only wish it had been sooner. At the time, what appealed to me most was the idea that I could use essential oils for kids and with just a few of these oils I could have an all-natural medicine kit at my finger tips, that were also going to be safe to use on my baby.
Essential oils have been a transient part of my life since I was a teenager (when oil burners and incense were all-the-range). Mum had lavender, tee tree and eucalyptus oils on hand for various burns, cuts and grazes, but beyond that I was unaware of the amazing power and potential they had and how they would come to be such an integral part of mine and our families life.
WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL OILS
Essential oils are extracted from different parts of fruits, trees, flowers and stems. Pure essential oils are those that have no additives at all – no fillers, extenders, synthetic materials… the only ingredient is the essential oil. For our health, it’s important to avoid cheap synthetic oils and look for wild-harvested or certified organic essential oils, as these contain no petrochemical-derived compounds or botanical substances.
HOW DO ESSENTIAL OILS WORK
Because our skin is permeable, the active chemicals in essential oils are absorbed just like anything else that’s applied topically to the skin. When essential oils are applied to the skin, their healing components are absorbed into the bloodstream by the pores and hair follicles. Once inside the bloodstream, they disperse to the specific organs and systems on which they work. Pulse points are the areas of the body where blood vessels are closest to the skin’s surface. Applying essential oils to these areas allows for quicker absorption and help them get to work faster, so try applying them to the wrists, temples and back of the neck.
Different factors can affect the absorption of essential oils through the skin, like: massage – this increases the circulation to that area, thus increasing their absorption: heat – this also increases circulation and absorption. I apply my essential oil rollers to the soles of Otis’s feet after a nice warm bath and give it a gentle massage in.
Another way that essential oils enter the body is inhalation through the nose and mouth, affecting the body through several different pathways. What’s being affected when we inhale essential oils, is our olfactory system – a system of organs and cells relating to, or contributing to, the sense of smell. When we inhale the airborne molecules of essential oils through our nose, they directly interact with the olfactory system and, almost immediately, on the brain. Essential oil molecules that are inhaled through the mouth are also carried to the lungs and interact with the respiratory system. During inhalation, odour molecules travel through the nose and affect the brain through a variety of receptor sites, one of which is the limbic system, commonly referred to as the “emotional brain”. The limbic system is directly connected to those parts of the brain that control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels and hormone balance. This relationship helps explain why smell often triggers emotions and why inhalation of essential oils can have some very profound physiological and psychological effects.
The third way that essential oils enter the body is by ingestion (swallowing). This is not something that will be discussing here because it is not recommended for the general public, especially children, and I do not have the expertise or knowledge that is necessary for me to advise this to be a safe practice.
HOW TO USE ESSENTIAL OILS FOR KIDS
Essential oils can be applied to your entire home for therapeutic benefits that balance the family and house itself. Here are some of the ways I use them.
TOPICAL: When using essential oils for kids, you should always dilute them – young skin is thinner, more delicate, and generally more sensitive and children have smaller bodies so they don’t need as much for it to work. This doesn’t reduce the effectiveness of the oils; it just reduces the strength of the oils and allows you to cover a larger surface area (especially if you are using it over large areas of skin). Fractionated Coconut Oil is great, as the particles are smaller so it penetrates the skin quicker and therefore the oils can get into your system quicker. Also the fatty part has been removed which means it will always stay in liquid state, unlike virgin coconut oil (that you buy from the health food aisle), and also has a longer shelf life. The other benefit is that it is colourless and odourless so it doesn’t change the fragrance of your blend. Sesame, jojoba and grape seed oil also work well. However, if there are allergies or intolerances in your kids or you’re using oils on babies and you don’t yet know if they have an allergy or food intolerance, use rice bran oil (yes, the regular cooking oil from the supermarket hat you use to cook). It’s thicker and has a yellow colour but at least there’s a much lower chance of a reaction (plus it’s cheap!). Dilution rates will vary depending on your child’s age and the condition you’re treating. Always do a patch test on a small area of the skin before applying to check for any allergies.
INHALE: Simply open the bottle of your essential oil and breath in their scent.
BATH: Essential oils can be added directly to your bath water to ease tired and sore muscles or promote restful sleep before
COMPRESS: Use a hot compress to ease headaches or sore muscles. Add a few drops of essential oils to a wash cloth then soak it in hot water (just make sure the temperature is appropriate for your child and do not use boiling water from a kettle to avoid burning them). Wring it out and apply to the forehead or sore muscles and leave for 10-20 minutes. Repeat if necessary. A cold compress can be used to cool off on hot days in the same way as a hot compress – just apply the same process using cold water instead.
DIFFUSE: Ultrasonic diffusers and nebulisers use the vibration of water molecules to disperse essential oils throughout the home. Otis has one in his room and I use it every night, whether it’s my SLUMBER blend for a restful nights sleep, my DEFENCE blend if he’s coming down with something, or my BREATHE blend to ease coughs and congestions.
SPRAY: Just fill a clean spray bottle with water and your chosen essential oil blend and use as a room air freshener, as well as on carpets and soft furnishings. The citrus oils are always fresh and uplifting.
CLEANER: If you’ve got kids, you’ll be going through a lot of surface cleaner sprays! Making your own surface cleaners with essential oils and white wine vinegar make for a much cheaper, more economical and less-toxic option. I use my DEFENCE blend to clean Otis’s bath toys and add a few drops to the wash with any soiled linen.
STEAM: Put a few drops of your chosen essential oil onto a face washer and put it in the shower, turn the water on hot and allow it to steam up a little before regulating the temperature and letting your little one hop in.
MY TOP 5 ESSENTIAL OILS FOR KIDS –
1. Frankincense – calms the mind; settles grizzly behaviour; improves mental clarity; improves focus; respiratory system support, soothes skin allergies
2. Lavender – promotes restful sleep; relieves teething pain; soothes sore muscles; heals minor cuts and grazes
3. Tea Tree – antibacterial for minor cuts, scraps, burns and bug bites; natural bug repellent
4. Peppermint – digestive aid; relieves colic and constipation; cools fevers; nasal decongestant
5. Citrus (orange, lemon, grapefruit) – mood-enhancing; calms overstimulated children
MY CUSTOM BLEND ROLLER ESSENTIAL OILS FOR KIDS
My custom essential oils for kids rollers are 10ml pre-diluted essential oil blends, designed to support various ailments, conditions and emotions. Made with 100% pure essential oils and diluted with fractionated coconut, they’re safe to use on children 3-months and older and can be applied as often as needed.
HOW TO USE
Apply to soles of feet, along spine, wrists, back of neck or affected area and massage in.
– KEEP CALM: A calming blend to tame unsettled behaviour, grumpy disposition and temper tantrums. Ease grumpy dispositions and temper tantrums, and settle little ones who are tired and restless, before nap times
– IMMUNE BOOST: To protective blend for immune system support. Perfect for combating all the playground and daycare germs and shortening the duration of infections
– DON’T WORRY: A reassuring blend to easy anxiety. Promote feeling of contentment and reassurance. Great for supporting separation anxiety and first day of school jitters
– TUMMY TAMER: Digestive blend to ease upset tummies. Aid in the digestion of food and relieve the discomfort of reflux, gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea and eases car sickness
– SKIN SOOTHE: A healing antibacterial blend to soothe skin. Calms and heals inflamed skin (eczema), cuts and grazes
– BREATHE:Respiratory support to open and clear congested airways. Clears congested airways caused by colds and allergies and blocked Eustachian tubes, and promotes a restful nights sleep
– BE HAPPY: An upliting blend full of joy, love and support. Counteracts negative emotions and promotes feelings of optimism, cheerfulness and happiness
– SWEET DREAMS: A relaxing blend for a deeper, more peaceful sleep. To relax the body and mind, aid sleep and ease teething pain
– FOCUS: To maintain focus and improve concentration. Great for little people who have difficulty paying attention or staying on task at school
– COURAGE: To promote feelings of confidence and self-belief. For those who need a little help overcoming fears or a boost of courage ahead of big events or competitions
– CUSTOM: There’s an oil for everything, so if you’d like a custom made blend, please contact me
– Never apply undiluted essential oils to children’s skin
– Always dilute essential oils according to the child’s age
– Always “patch test” on your child’s skin first
– Keep away from sensitive areas of the skin
– Like all therapeutic medicines, keep out of reach of children
– Do not diffuse oils around newborns, young children, pregnant or nursing women unless you are sure they are safe
– Consult good reference texts or aromatherapy websites before making decisions on how and why to use essential oils