PARENTS are being warned they may be putting their babies at risk by using essential oils to make their own reusable wet wipes.

The International Federation of Aromatherapists (IFA), a UK registered charity, is concerned there is a growing trend for parents to try and copy commercial reusable wet wipes, in some cases adding essential oils which are totally unsuitable and potentially dangerous for a baby’s skin.

IFA Chairman, Colleen O’Flaherty-Hilder believes while parents’ intentions are good; it’s important they are fully informed about the potentially harmful chemical composition of the essential oils they are using. The IFA recommends parents seek professional advice if they are in any doubt.

A brief search on any popular parenting website such as Mumsnet reveals just how many parents are trying to replicate reusable wet wipes, available to buy online, using flannel and essential oils.

Colleen said, “Aromatherapy and the use of essential oils is a subject that takes a lot of studying to master and to fully understand the chemistry which defines an essential oil. While it might have a pleasant odour, the chemical composition of the oil could be irritating to the skin, or even become toxic, as the oils are absorbed into the blood stream of the baby via the skin.”

The NICE guidelines recommend not using baby skincare products on a newborn and using only plain water for the first 30 days of a baby's life, except for a dab of nappy cream. The Royal College of Midwifes also advise to just use water on newborns.

Similarly, qualified practitioners who have trained with the IFA do not recommend using aromatherapy oils on babies under the age of 6 months, and even then they should only be used with the support of a qualified therapist who has assessed the individual child.

Liz Thompson, who is an IFA-trained aromatherapist and also a member of the International Association of Infant Massage says: “When a parent is interested in using essential oils with their baby, I recommend they consult a fully qualified aromatherapist with the appropriate knowledge and training to respect each baby’s individuality, sensitivity and preferences.”

The IFA is now urging parents who still want to make their own reusable wet wipes to consult an IFA-qualified aromatherapist for help and guidance.

For more information on aromatherapy or to contact an IFA-qualified aromatherapist near you, please visit www.ifaroma.org.