During my baby massage course I talk to parents about how to safely use essential oils around children. If you’re thinking about using essential oils with your baby you may want to read this post, essential oils and babies. Many parents think about using essential oils for sleep, and I explain in the previous post about placing the drops on a cotton wool ball in the bedroom, so it is not too strong or overpowering for them.
When talking about your choice of oils, I suggest you may want to consider combining a choice, one to aid sleep and one to aid issues such as anxiety. Now, if you’re using the oil with a baby who is a few months old you’ll be thinking there is no need to worry about anxiety, and you’d be right. However, if you begin using a blend for sleep which includes these aromas, your child will become used to the aroma and associate it with sleep. You don’t need to use the blend every day until they’re 3 or 4 and you will dip in and out of using the blend, which is how it should be. However, if your child has been exposed to the aroma for bedtimes and sleep, you can use the association when your child gets older. As your child’s imagination develops, you may find that as they approach 3 or 4 years of age they have monsters in the cupboard, under the bed, and are refusing to go to sleep. This can be frustrating and tiring for parents, but you can support your child through this.
Smell is a primitive sense; if you have an association to an aroma then you will smell it and the molecules will go straight to the memory part of your brain, triggering those memories. So, if you think of lemon essential oil, you will probably imagine the fruit. Many people know the aroma of lavender and love it or hate it – smelling it will remind them of a past experience or a person depending on their previous experience. It is this association you can use with older children. If they have an awareness of the aroma which they associate with sleep and relaxation, then when they smell the aroma their brain will remember this and those positive, safe memories.
For some children the empowerment around the oils can be important. Allowing children to help you choose the oils from ones which are relaxing and good for anxiety can be beneficial for them to feel they are managing the issue. If you have previously used essential oils with them you may find them naturally veering towards choices made when they were younger. As a parent, you can also tell your child it is a monster repellent oil or that monsters aren’t allowed in the room with the blend. This can help your child feel a sense of security and the chemicals from the essential oils will help this reassurance and aid in creating a calm response for your child.
If we’re talking about anxiety I often suggest including an oil such as sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) with a relaxing oil. Sweet orange tends to be popular with children and does not have any known medication considerations. If you’d like to read more abstracts about the research about sweet orange this is one on pubmed, and you can also carry out an additional search on sweet orange and anxiety. If you decide to use sweet orange on the skin, please do check safety guidelines, as sweet orange can cause skin irritation if it has oxidised. I have written a blog post about looking after citrus essential oils, which you can read here.
If you’re not sure where to start but your child is really struggling with anxiety at bedtime, consider speaking to an aromatherapist about booking an appointment. You can take your child and the aromatherapist can have a chat with your child and you about making a special monster blend, children often enjoy choosing from the wide choice of essential oils an aromatherapist has, and they can make the bespoke blend in a way that is most suited to your child. For some, this may be in the room and for others it may be a rollerball or a cream for use at bedtime. This can be really empowering for a child, and help to allay the fears that are occurring from their developing imagination.
As difficult as it is, remember it is a good thing if your child is experiencing monsters. It shows they are developing their imagination and creativity and while it can seem a long time while you are experiencing it, the overall time is short. It is likely to be frustrating and possibly upsetting for you, so use different tools which appeal to your child to help them feel secure and safe during this difficult time.
Louise is an holistic therapist who owns the Therapy Centre, BS14 9HB, a clinic offering a range of holistic and beauty therapies. Louise offers reflexology, aromatherapy, aromatology, holistic massage, Indian head massage, reiki, baby massage and story massage. She is a mum of two boys and when she is not working she enjoys getting outdoors with her family. For further information visit louise-morgan.co.uk or contact her clinic on 01275 217160