Is eucalyptus oil safe for babies must be one of the most contentious issues in aromatherapy.
Tisserand and Young in their Essential Oil Safety for Health Professionals (T & Y, 2013) describe how one of the main constituents 1,8, cineole slows respiration, and so they advise avoiding eucalyptus oil on very small children. Conversely though, clinical evidence shows this to be one of the best helps for bronchial infections, which are the fourth biggest killers of babies. In which case sometimes the benefits outweigh the risks. So, as long as it is used in tiny dilutions of not more than 0.25% (which is basically one drop of essential oil to a tablespoon of carrier) and is kept away from their faces, it can be used safely. Always apply eucalyptus oil to a baby’s back, never the front of their bodies.
In this article we’ll also address the potential issues of diffusing eucalyptus around babies. Let’s start there.
Newborn Babies And Scent
Can you ever remember a time when you got separated from your parents and thought you were lost? If so, for a moment, reflect on how terrifying it felt. We’ll bet you can even remember how it felt in your body to be so panic stricken and afraid. Now consider that babies navigate their entire world by scent in the first few weeks of their lives. Incredibly, by the time they are three week’s old they can still discern the smell of their mother’s amniotic fluid over other women’s. Everything they know about their parents, siblings, pets and crib is processed by their sense of smell.
And then they get poorly. They get a snuffly nose. Potentially they can’t breathe and they can’t smell mom either.
No wonder they cry!
Then suddenly, some agent unblocks the snot and they can breathe again, but now everything feels wrong. It must genuinely feel like they have been stolen away to someone else’s house.
They can breathe now, but the chances are, they don’t feel any calmer.
Used carelessly around children, essential oils not only hurt little noses because they are so severe, but they can also be very frightening/
Does that mean we shouldn’t use them then? Absolutely not. We just have to use them carefully and thoughtfully.
Would You Choose Eucalyptus Oil For Your Child?
Sometimes that’s a better indicator than a book, isn’t it? The truth is, yes we would, but only in very dire circumstances. For the most part there are better oils we can choose. Frankincense for example will still unbung their noses but is nowhere near as sharp as eucalyptus is. It is much more comforting and relaxing than eucalyptus is too. Sometimes oils that are rich in 1,8 cineole can feel a bit like they are shouting at you, where frankincense feels like a whisper.
Myrtle too, is a much nicer choice for a little one. Like eucalyptus it is bursting with antimicrobial constituents, but it feels like a lovely lullaby.
We also love tea tree and niaouli essential oils, both of which are antimicrobial powerhouses much more suited to children.
Is Eucalyptus Safe For Babies In The Bath?
Not really. We wouldn’t recommend it. On two levels, really. First you have the respiration issue, but also consider that a baby’s skin has not properly formed its protective oily layer either. So an oil as potent and sharp as eucalyptus could certainly be a bit much for their tiny skins.
What some aromatherapists like to do is to “smell train” their kids, by putting a drop of an essential oil in some warm water in the hand basin when the little one is in the bath. Baby can still smell mom, and it's not as fierce.
Likewise, have a look at our article is lavender essential oil safe for babies. Some of the same issues arise and there are lots of tips that you may be able to integrate to help you out.
When is Eucalyptus Essential Oil Safe for Children?
That question is a bit like saying when is chemotherapy good for children? The answer is it is never going to be something you will choose for your child, unless it is the last resort. If your child just has a cough or cold, then use tea tree, or frankincense of myrtle. But if a diagnosis is made by your physician that they have acute bronchitis then you have to put your trust in something. Providing it is also in a doctor, then yes, you can take steps to use eucalyptus oil on your baby. We would recommend this recipe.
- 15 mL Grapeseed carrier oil (Vitis vinefera)
- 10 drops Tamanu carrier oil (Calophyllum inophyllum)
- 3 drops Frankincense essential oil (Boswellia carterii)
- 1 drop Copaiba essential oil (Copaifera langisdorffi)
- 1 drop Eucalyptus essential oil (Eucalyptus globulus)
Safety: Apply only to the child’s back. Keep away from their little faces.
Is eucalyptus oil safe for babies is a very difficult question to answer. The text books would tell you no, but sometimes, only very rarely, the benefits outweigh the risks.