Our hectic lives can frequently allow very little time for taking care of our little ones as carefully as we feel we should. Frequently, we find ourselves choosing between what would be the healthiest options and the most convenient. Aromatherapy provides both: safe, natural treatments with simple methods. The only time required is getting to know about a small selection of essential oils, what they do and how to use them. These are five oils especially useful for the parent, with ways and means to use them.
There are only two ways you'll use any of these oils: Topically by massage or application to cuts and scrapes to soothe wounds and prevent infection). Second, there's inhalation, really in any way that's convenient. From a diffuser, warm bath, or also through massage (which actually combines the topical and inhalation methods). The greatest difference in using essential oils with children and adults is that children will just require smaller amounts. There are a few oils that should not be used with children: peppermint, for example, is thought too strong for the wee ones under two. Consult a reputable guidebook if you are unsure about a particular oil.
Also, the younger the child, the more dilute the concentration of essential oils should be in a formula, bath, or inhalation application. Massage formulas, for example, can contain approximately 1 drop essential oil per ounce of carrier oil for each year of age - this is flexible depending on the oil and the situation, within a range of 3 drops for each year (i.e. For children one and under, up to 4 drops can be used with gentle oils such as Vanilla, Lavender and Chamomile - use only 1 or two drops with newborns). The child's weight can also be considered; if a child is larger for their age, a little more essential oil can be used. If using a diffuser, only enough oil so that the scent can be detected is necessary - nebulizing diffusers may output too high a concentration of oils for children; warming or humidifying diffusers are more appropriate. The oils we'll look at here are all quite safe and can be used as often as feels appropriate; Tea Tree, though, should be reserved just for its potent antiseptic applications.
And now for the oils! We'll start with soothing the very little ones; comforting an infant can seem a full-time job for many parents, where support is always welcome. For this, there's one indispensable tool: pure Vanilla essential oil. Mmmm! Who doesn't like vanilla? Infants really respond to its calming, sweet scent. And it's so easy to use. A belly, back or foot rub with a blend containing 1/2 percent vanilla in any quality carrier oil (jojoba, hazelnut or other seed or nut oil of your choice) works magic for many parents. To make a 1/2 percent Vanilla blend, purchase a small amount of pure Vanilla essential oil and add 4 drops into each ounce of carrier. Use as frequently as you like, as vanilla is completely non-toxic. You can even add a few drops to your favorite cookie recipe for an exquisite flavor, far surpassing that of the commonly found vanilla extracts.
Next up is Chamomile. Roman Chamomile is premier oil calming little ones over two years of age. The oil may be used in a number of ways; aromatherapy massage, in a diffuser or room spray (with this and other oils, dilute 10 drops per cup of water in a clean spray bottle - shake well and lightly mist the air), a drop or two sprinkled on bedding, or in a bath. According to Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt in Advanced Aromatherapy, "Even in very small concentrations, whether alone or in combinations with other oils (Roman Chamomile) has a soothing effect. It's appropriate to massage a few undiluted drops into the solar plexus." It is noted as particularly suited to calming tantrums or bringing calm after nightmares.
True Lavender essential oil (Lavendula angustifolia) is wonderful for its soothing effects as well, along with a great variety of other healing actions. It is an excellent remedy for small burns, applied directly to the area, undiluted. For small cuts and scrapes, Lavender may be used alone, or in a 50/50 blend with Tea Tree for added antiseptic properties. Lavender supports sleep, and is an excellent choice for diffusing in the evening time. Lavender may also be used in a bath, and is the first choice for a gentle foot rub. For a good night's rest, blend 2 to 1 with Roman Chamomile, diluting as needed depending on the child and application method.
When sour moods are in need of a lift, citrus oils supply the aromas of choice. Tangerine and Sweet Orange are especially liked, and Mandarin has a certain calming effect not found in any other oil. Citrus oils are often cold-pressed from the peels of the fruit; these can be mildly irritating to the skin. Stick to using these in room sprays or diffusers. Steam distilled citrus oils, often made from the leaves or flowers of the citrus trees (like Neroli, Petitgrain, or Mandarin Petitgrain - an especially nice oil for young ones) can safely be used in topical applications like massages and baths. All these oils are known as antidepressants, and might just lift your mood as well as your child's (not to terrible of a side effect!)
Finally, there's Tea Tree essential oil. Tea Tree is considered a universal antiseptic, replacing that stinging Iodine solution that grandmother always seemed to have on hand. Tea Tree oil can still be a little strong for the younger ones if applied directly; blend with Lavender as noted above for these cases. A few drops of the Tea Tree and Lavender blend can be added to a warm bowl of water for an effective, soothing wash for cuts and scrapes. Also, a natural antiseptic spray can be mixed and used as needed. Use two ounce of pure water and one half ounce of rubbing alcohol. To this, add 8 drops each of Chamomile and Lavender, plus 12 drops Tea Tree; shake before each use. Tea Tree has a great many additional uses, and like Lavender, is useful to always keep on hand.
This is just a start at incorporating the magic of essential oils into your children's lives. Safe, natural and effective means of supporting their health and wellness is always welcome. There are a great many more oils, many with profound healing effects. Particularly with children, start slowly - your nose might tell you when you've had just the right amount of aromatherapy, but children may not be able to express this. And where one child may not respond particularly to a certain oil, another will be entranced by the same aroma. There are many wonderful books available for the beginning aromatherapist with oodles of oil descriptions and recipes. Experiment, be creative and have fun!
There's so much more to learn! For more info than you could have ever imagined, see http://www.anandaapothecary.com/weblog.