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Are Essential Oils Safe for Baby?

What to do and what not to do when it comes to infants and essential oils.

Are Essential Oils Safe for Baby?

There’s nothing like motherhood to make you freak out about absolutely everything. Suddenly, the whole world is a death-trap, infested with treacherous microorganisms maliciously working against your perfect baby. And then, come to find out, all the remedies out there -- from the over medicalized to the most homeopathic -- present their own set of dangers. Essential oils, which can help with as many things as sleep, stress and skin rashes, are no exception.

With a trending interest in natural treatments, essential oil use for babies is on the rise. So I decided to find out what’s okay for baby and what isn’t. After all, what’s natural is certainly better than what’s not; but it is critical to make sure your methodologies are correct.

"We all want the absolutely best for our children," said Jennifer Abbott, owner of the Oily Babies Instagram page and a distributor and teacher for doTerra. "We want to keep them from getting sick; help them feel better quickly if they do get sick; give them a good night’s sleep; stop the itching bug bite. And I wanted to do it using natural products.”

After a friend shared a bottle of TerraShield to protect against bugs in the woods, Jennifer was hooked and used essential oils not only to get over illnesses more quickly, but also to prevent them altogether. She's continued to use essential oils since, which have also helped with labor and delivery recovery.

“I've seen first-hand how medicine can improve and save lives,” says Jess Staton, a Brooklyn mom and registered nurse, who also works with doTerra. “However, while many practitioners will be looking for the least drastic intervention first, others will just throw a prescription at you. For instance, if you have high blood pressure, before prescribing medication, hopefully your doctor will have you change your diet, reduce your salt, begin or increase your exercise program and reduce your stress.”

Jess thinks essential oils can be a big part of those holistic, first-measure changes when it comes to a healthy and preventative lifestyle. “Sometimes the best thing is a medication or some other medical intervention; other times, you can use other tools to reduce symptoms and feel better.”

So if you are convinced and ready to integrate essential oil use into your baby’s routines, where do you start?

As with anything, using oils safely is important. According to Jennifer, the most common reaction is skin sensitivity. She advises to always do a skin test first and to dilute oils with a carrier oil, not water — something like coconut oil, jojoba oil, olive oil.

“A good place to start is by applying diluted oil to the bottom of the child's foot,” said Jess. “The skin is not as sensitive but the oils are easily absorbed from the bottoms of the feet.” If there’s no reaction after a couple of minutes, the oil is probably safe to use. Try to test one oil at a time so that, if baby does get a reaction, you know which oil actually triggered it.

Once you know what oil works and is safe, you can rely on oil-specific tools to make the job easier and safer. Some of Jennifer’s go-tos are roller bottles, 5 or 10ml, which make your oil routine more practical. “Once you make a few roller bottles, you can set them by the bed or toss them into the diaper bag for easy use,” Jennifer says. Make sure your bottles are glass so you don’t compromise the purity and attributes of the oil. Alternatively, if you aren’t keen on topical application, you can use a diffuser. For example, you can help baby get a good night’s sleep by diffusing lavender oil.

Though natural, essential oils are potent and can be harmful, so you don’t want baby to ingest them. If you’re applying the oils directly on the skin, choose a part of the body that baby won’t suck on, like behind the ears or in the back; and avoid the face altogether. Also avoid adding essential oils to baby’s baths -- splashing increases the risk of ingestion or eye and skin irritation.

Oil use can require a lot of research, so before using them, “Ask questions and know who you are getting your information from,” Jennifer says. “There are a few books out there about the safety of oils written by someone with no background in chemistry." She loves following Dr. Pappas from Essential Oil University. He supplies a lot of information about the chemical makeup of oils, their purity, and how to dilute them.

Whatever primary health needs or concerns you may have -- whether it’s for teething, sleepless nights, stress or rashes -- implement in small steps and pay attention to the difference it makes in your little one’s health and wellbeing.

“There is an oil you can try for anything!,” Jennifer says.

And to give you a good place to start, here are Jennifer’s and Jess’s go-to oils and how to use them:

JENNIFER

Serenity: Dilute 1-2 drops in a tsp of fractionated coconut oil; or diffuse 3 drops at bedtime or overnight in an ultrasonic diffuser. “This oil changed sleep for our entire family. I ran out of it once and no one slept for about a week!”

Roman Chamomile: Dilute 1-2 drops in 1 tsp fractionated coconut oil rub on the feet to help sooth a fussy babe, or on the jaw line when baby is asleep to help reduce teething pain.

Fennel or Lavender: Dilute 1 drop in 1 tsp of fractionated coconut oil and rub on tummy clockwise for colic or gas issues.

JESS

Serenity, which blends of lavender, sweet marjoram, Roman chamomile, ylang ylang, Hawaiian sandalwood and vanilla.

Roman Chamomile: “This is a wonderful oil for calming. I love the smell and it is also good to use when little ones are teething.”

Frankincense: “Such an amazing multi-use oil. I apply it to the crown of the baby's head for bonding and also use it diluted on the bottoms of feet for boosted immunity and (heavily) diluted and applied topically for skin concerns. Though, sidenote: breastmilk is also great to use on baby's skin!”

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

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5 brilliant products that encourage toddler independence

Help your little one help themselves.

One of our main goals as mothers is to encourage our children to learn, grow and play. They start out as our tiny, adorable babies who need us for everything, and somehow, before you know it, they grow into toddlers with ideas and opinions and desires of their own.

You may be hearing a lot more of "I do it!" or maybe they're pushing your hand away as a signal to let you know, I don't need your help, Mama. That's okay. They're just telling you they're ready for more independence. They want to be in charge of their bodies, and any little bit of control their lives and abilities allow.

So, instead of challenging your toddler's desire for autonomy, we found five of our favorite products to help encourage independence—and eliminate frustration in the process.

EKOBO Bamboo 4-piece kid set

EKOBO bamboo 4-piece kid set

This colorful set includes a plate, cup, bowl and spoon and is just right for your child's meal experience. Keep them in an easy-to-reach cabinet so they'll feel encouraged (and excited!) to get their own place setting each time they eat.

$25

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Before you know it, your little one will be asking (okay, maybe demanding) to fill their own water cups. This amazing 4-pack of cups attaches directly to the fridge (or any glass, metal, tile or fiberglass surface) making it easier for your child to grab a cup themselves. Just be sure a water pitcher or dispenser is nearby, and—boom!—one task off your plate.

$29

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

These beautiful blocks, made from sustainably-sourced wood and water-based, non-toxic, lead-free paint, will keep your little one focused on their creation while they're also busy working on their fine-motor skills. The puzzle design will encourage patience as your kiddo creates their own building, fitting one block in after the next.

$18

Lorena Canals basket

Lorena Canals Basket

This *gorgeous* braided cotton basket is the perfect, accessible home for their blocks (and whatever else you want to hide away!) so your kiddo can grab them (and clean them up) whenever their heart desires.

$29

BABYBJÖRN step stool

BABYBJ\u00d6RN Step Stool

Your kiddo might be ready to take on the world, but they might need an extra boost to do so—cue, a step stool! An easy-to-move lightweight stool is the must-have confidence-boosting tool you need in your home so your growing tot can reach, well... the world.

$20

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This viral post about the 4th trimester is exactly what new mamas need right now

"We are alone. Together. You are surrounded all the other mothers who are navigating this tender time in isolation. You are held by all of us who have walked the path before you and who know how much you must be hurting. You are wrapped in the warm embrace of mama earth, as she too settles into this time of slowness and healing."

Artist and teacher Catie Atkinson at Spirit y Sol recently shared a beautiful drawing of a new mom crying on a couch—leaking breasts, newborn baby, pile of laundry and what we can only assume is cold coffee, included. Everything about the image is so real and raw to me—from the soft stomach to the nursing bra and the juxtaposition of the happy wallpaper to the palpable vulnerability of the mother—I can almost feel the couch underneath me. I can feel the exhaustion deep in this woman's bones.

My heart feels the ache of loneliness right alongside hers. Because I remember. I remember the confusion and uncertainty and love and messy beauty of the fourth trimester so well. After all, it's etched in our minds and bodies forever.

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