I might as well entitle this post as I did the one for GSE - P.S I Love You Too (Eucalyptus)! To be fair to the other essential oils though, I went with the more generic title - after all I'm nothing if not fair! [My true, secret love is Eucalyptus though because it is my best friend during bad bouts of the sniffles or coughs.. shhh]
I discovered essential oils - surprise, surprise - after R was born and I was looking at ways to arm myself against the big, bad world of germs. I bought a book (check Reference Books section), purchased the recommended ones for kids and was ready for combat! (Note to self: I really need to curb this war talk).
Aromatherapy is really a study in of itself because although there are certain oils whose therapeutic actions you are familiar with, there will also be so many that you will either not know about at all or be unaware their full healing potential. For e.g. I knew that Rose Essential Oil had a wonderful fragrance and is good for the skin but didn't realize it was also a very effective therapy against fevers. (Fun fact: did you know it takes about 10,000 lbs of rose petals to distill 1lb of oil?!)
So, what are essential oils, essentially?! They are basically essences of plants, steam distilled from their different parts e.g. the flowers, the seeds, the leaves. You can combine more than one oil depending on your child's condition and they are safe as long as they are used correctly i.e. diluted in a carrier oil before applying to your child's skin. I know some aromatherapists may call for ingestion of oils occasionally but it is definitely not recommended and I would not suggest you attempt to either. Inhalation or massage works best. More on that later.
It is rather daunting to start your aromatherapy journey because there are so many oils to choose from. To help get you started, here are my picks for oils to keep around the house at all times:
1) Eucalyptus Radiata (suitable from 2mos+ for colds, coughs)
2) Lavender (suitable from newborn+, for relaxation, insomnia, wounds, insect bites, great for burns!)
3) Roman Chamomile (suitable from nb+, for stomach cramps, relaxation, headaches, teething)
4) Thyme Linalol (other Thyme may be too strong for a child, suitable for 2y+, for coughs, all infections)
5) Lemon (suitable from 2y+, for general antibacterial action, cleaning around the house)
6) Tea Tree (suitable from 2mos+, for thrush/yeast, infections, insect bites)
7) Rose Otto (suitable from 2mos+, for fevers, relaxation)
8) Geranium (suitable from 2mos+ natural insect repellent, sunburn, anxiety)
9) Ginger (suitable from 2y+, for stomach cramps, for coughs, for nausea)
10) Mandarin (suitable from nb+, for digestive issues, irritability, constipation)
How to use
Skin: Massage/Body Rub. Always dilute before applying to the skin. A good carrier oil is Sweet Almond Oil but you can use any bland smelling oil that doesn't overpower the essence.
Inhalation: Tissue/Pillow/Clothes/Steam Inhalation (for older kids). Keep away from the eyes (make your child close the eyes when using steam) as eyes can water/sting from close contact. Dilute for younger kids, can use pure oil for older ones with this method.
Water: Sponging/Compresses/Baths. Add to a bowl of water to sponge or for a compress (great for fevers). Or add diluted oil to bath and swish.
You can also add to a humidifier or vaporizer which is especially effective when your child has a cold and can't breathe at night or has trouble sleeping in general. Another method I thought was interesting was adding to a spray bottle to mist around the house - replace that Febreze stuff!!!
All in all, Aromatherapy has been a Godsend for me both when the kids have been sick and also just generally when I needed help to calm them down or get them through the night when they were having trouble sleeping.