Aromatherapy for Babies
by Stacie Jacobs
Natural products are at the forefront of the personal care industry, particularly in the baby sector. It used to be that the selection of baby products available was quite limited. Today, that is not the case as moms are clamoring for aromatherapy products such as calming lotions, scented massage oils, and natural shampoos. When it comes to aromatherapy, however, it is important to make sure you get essential oil and not snake oil.
Aromatherapy is the use of plant essences, also known as essential oils, to combat physical ailments and promote emotional well-being. It is an ancient practice that can be very effective for babies when used in the proper dilution. Dr. Alan R. Hirsh, a psychiatrist who is neurological director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, believes that babies are influenced by what they smell. In his latest book, “Life’s a Smelling Success,” Dr. Hirsh examines how scents can stimulate infants’ brains and potentially enhance cognitive development.
There are several safe essential oils that can provide relief for baby ailments such as restlessness, colic, or insomnia. The essential oils most commonly found in aromatherapy products include lavender, chamomile, mandarin, marjoram, neroli, jasmine, melissa, fennel, and pettigrain. For instance, a bedtime bath featuring essential oils of lavender and chamomile can help calm a fussy baby and gently induce sleep.
But buyer beware! With the baby market projected to grow to $75 million by 2006, the niche is attracting new entrants-not all of which are supplying authentic aromatherapy products. In the U.S., the term ‘aromatherapy’-just like the term ‘natural’-is unregulated. That means there are no legal guidelines with respect to the substances used in aromatherapy products. Thus, it is legal for companies to use synthetic fragrances under the guise of aromatherapy. Synthetic fragrances are considerably less expensive than pure essential oils, and can be created year-round, while the supply of essential oils may depend on season and availability.
It is important to be careful when using scents that mimic nature. Reseach has linked synthetic fragrances to adverse effects such as headaches, dizziness, allergies and skin irritations.
When looking for authentic aromatherapy products, remember the 3 P’s:
- Purity – True aromatherapy products should not contain the word “fragrance” in the ingredient list. Essential oils or the aromatherapy blend should be prominently included in the list of contents.
- Price – Generally speaking, aromatherapy products come with a higher price tag than their synthetic counterparts. While a little goes a long way, particularly with baby products, essential oils tested for purity are more expensive.
- Packaging – Products blended with essential oils should be stored in dark, colored bottles to slow the effects of oxidation. Amber, cobalt blue and green bottles are most commonly used for aromatherapy.
Essential oils used in aromatherapy offer a beneficial and fragrant path to overall health and healing. Use them often and for everything.