Sharon Lovejoy on Garden Ideas for Kids

Artist, Author, Herbalist Sharon Lovejoy

I first met Sharon Lovejoy in the pages of her lovely book Sunflower Houses when I stumbled upon it in the library years ago.  I checked it out and was immediately captivated by her whimsical artwork and creative children’s garden projects just begging to be tried. 

Consequently, the first project I selected was the namesake of her book, the sunflower house. My two children and I had a fun summer planting and playing in our own sunflower house. 

gardening books
My collection of Sharon’s books

In the years since, I’ve added many of her other books to my collection, each one a treasure trove of ideas and inspiration. Recently, Sharon graciously agreed to let me interview her, and we talked about garden ideas for kids and her own gardening background.

Sharon’s Childhood

In her early years, Sharon’s love for nature was awakened by her Grandmother Lovejoy. Sharon’s parents built a tiny 420 square foot house in her grandmother’s back yard. “The first seven years of my life I lived in her garden …. My parents house was right smack under the peach trees and the apricot trees, and by the pathway of hollyhocks. It was absolutely in her garden,” she said.  

Every morning, Sharon ran down the Hollyhock pathway to Grandma’s house. The two explored outside, planted gardens, created art projects, and baked confections — often using the garden’s bounty.

Those idyllic years inspired Sharon to pursue a life as an artist, herbalist, writer, and all-around creative. She fills her books with gardening adventures galore that any child and child-at-heart will love.

Cultivate A Gardening Life with Your Kids

 Just as she was, Sharon wholeheartedly believes that children need to be outside in the fresh air and sunshine. “Outside nurtures us. Inside takes away,” she said.

In her young adult years, she followed that advice with her own family. “I started taking my son Noah out into the garden when he was just 10 days old,” she said. “I grew herbs …. I would hold his little hand and brush it over things and hold things up to him and talk to him about them. He does that with his own children now.” 

gardening ideas for kids

Sharon believes that even if your family has never gardened, you can change that. “The garden can become a tradition, and once it’s a tradition, it’s part of your family history,” she said.

I think we can all agree that sounds wonderful, but how do you go about actually doing it, especially if gardening hasn’t been in your DNA? Whether you want to plant a toddler garden for little ones, a vegetable patch, or flowers, let’s look at some fun garden ideas for kids from Sharon.

Gardening Projects

For a first project, a container garden is perfect for children and parents to do together, especially if you don’t want to dig up the yard or don’t have much green space to work with.

 Container Gardening in a Half-Barrel

Half barrels or big pots are just right for growing vegetables. You can plant almost anything in them including vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Sharon pointed me to her book Camp Granny on page 141 for the details.

  1. Put your pot in an area of your yard that receives at least six hours of sun a day. 
  2. Drill a few 1/4 inch or 1/2 inch-size drainage holes in the bottom of the basket or pot (if it doesn’t already have them). 
  3. Cover the drainage holes on the bottom with pieces of screen or cheesecloth so the soil doesn’t fall out of the holes.
  4. Add a few inches of gravel to the bottom of the barrel (it helps with drainage).
  5. Fill the pot to the brim with bagged potting soil. If you’re planting a plant rather than seeds, you may have to remove some of the soil to make room. Water thoroughly. 
  6. Plant your seeds or plants following the directions on the package. Water seeds lightly (a spray bottle works for seeds) and plants more thoroughly (a watering can or hose). Always try to water plants from the bottom so you’re not dousing the leaves whenever you water. 

Container Garden Ideas

Now let’s look at some ideas on what to plant in the containers.

  • Herbs. Some favorites are basil, oregano, dill, parsley, cilantro, rosemary, garlic, and thyme. Take a trip to the nursery, and you’re sure to find some new ones to try too.
  • Vegetables. Cherry tomatoes do very well in big pots, as do lettuces, radishes, tiny carrots, squash (remember it will vine out over the pot unless you have a trellis for it to climb), and bell peppers.
  • Flowers. Try some edible flowers to add to salads like nasturtiums, violas, pansies, chive blooms, bachelor’s button, and dianthus. 
container garden ideas

Remember, don’t be afraid to mix the plants. For instance, pair a basil plant with a Roma tomato. Try an edible flower with cut-and-come-again mesclun and chives. It’s fun! For help with this, search the internet for the phrase companion planting.

Sharon’s Container Gardening Tips

Keep Sharon’s best tips for gardening in mind as you and your kids try different projects.

container gardening
  1. Put the container garden by your in-and-out door or other high-traffic  area so that it’s convenient for your child to access. 
  2. Buy a child-size watering can for your kids. The big ones are hard for children to handle because they get too heavy. Don’t use a hose. The water stream will blast the dirt out of the container and it helps spread any disease lurking in the dirt. 
  3. Buy kid-size yard tools. They are much easier for children to use. 
  4. “The best fertilizer is the gardener’s hands,” Sharon said. “Every day, every day, a mom or a dad or a grandma or an auntie should go outside with the child to check for bad bugs, check for any weeds that might have blown in there, and to make sure that things are moist.”
  5. No poisons. No sprays. Use fingers to pick things off. 
  6. Talk to your plants. 
  7. Learn the good and bad critters. Her book Trowel and Error has illustrations. 
  8. “Plant a tree for each of your children and let them chart life on that tree. Soon they’ll be saying things like, ‘That tree was that big when I was 6’ ” she said.
  9. Let children try unusual containers for planting. Sharon leads workshops where kids bring an old pair of shoes or boots to plant in. The children absolutely love it. Just be sure to put in drainage holes.
  10. Take pictures of your kids in the garden. 

Urban Gardening Ideas

But what if you live in the city and don’t have any or very little green space for gardening? No worries! Sharons has great ideas for urban gardeners too. Try one of these::

urban gardening

Kitchen Garbage Gardens 

Now before you think “ewww” and move on, garbage gardens are exciting projects that are all grown indoors using food scraps from your kitchen.  Chapter 4 in Sharon’s book Camp Granny is all about garbage gardens and filled with oodles of ideas, but here’s one to get you started.

Citrus Plant

The next time your child eats an orange or other citrus fruit, save the seeds and follow these directions:

  1. Rinse the seeds and soak overnight in a cup of warm water. 
  2. Fill a 4-inch wide pot or recycled container (like a yogurt cup) with potting soil. Making sure there are drainage holes in the bottom. 
  3. Plant two seeds to a container, one-half inch deep and cover with soil. 
  4. Water it thoroughly and label it.
  5. Place the pot in a shallow tray or saucer filled with some gravel and water.
  6. Place the tray in a sunny spot. 
  7. When the soil feels dry to touch (poke your finger about an inch deep in a different spot than where you planted the seeds), it’s time to water again. 
  8. Once the seedlings sprout, keep track of their growth by measuring monthly and recording progress in a nature journal. 
  9. Repot as necessary. Use a natural fertilizer every few weeks.

Indoor Gardening

In her book Trowel & Error, the last section covers indoor gardening projects. Sharon suggests urban gardeners can  grow herbs indoors in a sunny south window or under a Gro-light. Try any or all of the following herbs, as they are better situated for indoor growing conditions than some others: rosemary, oregano, savory, chives, thyme, mint, parsley, and sage. 

Sharon’s Urban Gardening Tips for Indoor Herbs

  • Turn them weekly so they grow evenly
  • Talk to them
  • Trim them as needed for cooking 
  • Feed them weekly with a half solution of a balanced fertilizer
  • Water as needed 

Explorer’s Kit

Perhaps you need to encourage an indoor-loving child to get outside a bit more. What child can resist a kid’s gardening kit? Here’s what Sharon keeps on hand for her grandchildren and other children when they come over:

kids gardening kit
  • A magnifying glass to look at the tiny details of plants and insects.
  • A notebook or journal for children to write or draw about what they see.
  • A sheet of plexiglass to view insects on. They can look at all sides of them through the plexiglass.
  • A stethoscope for listening to trees drinking and bugs chewing and boring into the bark.
  • A canning jar with a ring lid and a piece of nylon screen to observe insects and then let them go.
  • A measuring tape or ruler.
  • A camera for those not-to-miss shots in the garden.
  • A flashlight to use at night. 

Above all, Sharon is a big believer in getting out into the garden everyday with kids to observe it. “There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not absolutely astonished,” she said. “Paying attention is my daily inspiration.”

A Word About Creativity

Finally, Sharon believes that children are naturally creative. It’s the adults who have often had their creativity stomped out from the ups and downs of  life. Adults need to be sure they aren’t stifling the creativity in their children, and perhaps work to recapture their own. 

Miss Jenna, after she got her first harvest of lettuce from my gardening workshop

Overall, Sharon said one of the most important things is to do what the poet Mary Oliver says, “Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”

You can find Sharon Lovejoy online at her website, on Instagram, and on Facebook.

How about you? Are you inspired to try a gardening project with your kids? Let me know what you’ll be planting this summer and fall. If you’d like help with a gardening project, I offer a container gardening workshop in the Indianapolis area for parents and kids to do together. This is a great time to start a container garden for late summer/early fall harvest. Just click on the above link or the picture for details! It’s in Westfield and convenient to Noblesville, Carmel, Fishers, Zionsville, Sheridan, and the surrounding areas.

container gardening class for kids
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Just a note, my links to Sharon’s books are Amazon affiliate links, and if you purchase any of them, I will receive a small amount of money from that purchase. Thank you if you do that. It helps me to continue my work!

Can Aromatherapy Help your Child Sleep?

Getting your children to go to sleep can seem like the impossible dream when you’re stuck in the bedtime battle doldrums. If you’ve given up at ever getting a decent night of sleep again, let me ask you to try one more thing: child-safe aromatherapy solutions.

In this post, we’ll answer the question can aromatherapy help your child sleep, and I’ll also share a few non-aromatherapy tips I used with my own now-grown kids that will help make bedtime a battle-free zone.

Start a Bedtime Routine

Before you break out the lavender oil, it helps to have a bedtime routine in place. My hubby and I started this with our kids when they were just newborns, and we stuck to it the best we could each night. Of course, the first two months with a baby are pretty chaotic, but decide what you want your routine to look like and start working toward it. 

  1. Establish a bed time. Our goal was to have the baby in bed by 8 p.m. Now when we first got home from the hospital with Amber, by the time we all settled down, it was about 10:30 p.m. However, each week it got a little better. When she was around two months old, we were putting her to bed at 8:30 p.m. 
  2. Start planning backward from your chosen time. If you want to put the kids to bed at 8 p.m., then start getting ready at 7 p.m. Toddlers and older kids can help by picking up their toys, getting out their pajamas, getting backpacks ready for school, and so on.
  3. Next comes bath if needed
  4. Read a few bed time stories. Today Amber has a 20-month old, and from the day she and Andrew brought him home from the hospital, reading books became part of their nighttime routine. 
  5. Rocking. After story time, rock the little ones for a few minutes and sing a lullaby.
  6. Prayers. Put them in bed and say prayers.
  7. Hugs and kisses and head out the door, without belaboring this time.

We did this routine every night, so our kids knew what to expect. Overall, it worked well, and for the most part we avoided big battles with the occasional exception. If you’re having lots of problems with behavior, check out this book (affiliate link) by Kevin Leman called Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours. I used it with my kids and found it so helpful. It’s filled with common sense ideas and practical suggestions to use with children from babies to teens.

Aromatherapy for Sleep

Since I became a certified aromatherapist two years ago, I’ve learned how essential oils and other botanical products can help ease a child — and adults — into sleep. Let’s look at a few ideas. Try these one at a time so you can judge what works best for your child.

Take an Aromatherapy Bath

I love hydrosols! If you’re not familiar with them, hydrosols are a byproduct of the distillation process of essential oils. Sometimes they are called “flower waters” or “hydrolats.” They contain a tiny amount of the essential oil along with the water soluble, volatile components of the plant. They are still effective and much gentler than essential oils. Two perfect ones to try with little children are lavender and German chamomile. Remember, never add essential oils straight to the water. They are too strong for children’s (and adult’s) skin. Hydrosols, however, can be added directly to the water.

  • Try this suggestion: add 1 tsp of your chosen hydrosol to an infant bathtub or 2 tsp. of hydrosol added to an adult tub filled with a smaller amount of water suitable for an infant. For children up to 12 years old, add 1 tsp. of hydrosol to the bath water for every year of age up to a maximum of 8 teaspoons.

Add bath herbs.

Another suggestion is to take a good-sized handful of either dried lavender flowers, dried chamomile flowers, or a combination of both, put them in a muslin bag and drop it in the bathtub while the child is bathing,.

Sip warm milk with warming spices and hydrosol.  

Warm up a cup of milk for your child and to that add from 1 tsp to 1 tbsp of hydrosol for children over the age of three. German chamomile is a wonderful hydrosol to use in this recipe. Next add cinnamon and nutmeg into the mixture and stir. Have the child drink about an hour before bed. 

Try an Aromatherapy Massage

Most essential oils are too strong for babies up to six months of age to use every day. A good alternative is to use a body butter infused with chamomile and lavender flowers. It will still contain some of the volatile components of the plant but will be gentle enough for use on a baby. For children over two years of age, you can use an aromatherapy foot cream that contains from about 0.5% to 1% dilution rates of essential oils to cream or carrier oil. For example, add 4 drops lavender and 1 drop German or Roman chamomile to one ounce of cream. 

Make an Aromatherapy Mister

Aromatherapy misters are another option, and they are very easy to make. For school-age children, fill a one-ounce spray bottle with water or lavender hydrosol. To that add 5 drops Roman chamomile, 10 drops lavender, and five drops of mandarin essential oil. Mist in the room as they are dropping off to sleep. For babies over six months, toddlers, and pre-schoolers, fill bottle with lavender hydrosol and add about three drops of essential oil to the bottle then lightly mist in the room.

Try an Aromatherapy Oil Diffuser

A final suggestion is to diffuse essential oil in the child’s room about 20 minutes before bedtime and then shut it off as you leave the room. You may be asking the question, Are aromatherapy diffusers safe for babies? Great question. The answer is yes, when you follow these guidelines:

  • This is safe starting at the age of six months for short periods of time (for a specific reason, like sleeping).  
  • Be sure to use a child safe essential oil like lavender or German or Roman Chamomile.
  • Start with a small number of drops like 2, and adjust accordingly and as the child grows, capping the number at about 10.

Try an Aromatherapy Sleep Pillow

Aromatherapy sleep pillows are easy to make and can be tucked into an older child’s bed pillow or positioned close to the crib of a baby. Typically they are made with sleep-inducing herbs like lavender, chamomile, hops, catnip, and others. My friend and artist Cindy Schultz and I are collaborating on a project of sleep pillows, which she’ll soon be selling. Watch her Instagram feed for more information.

Let’s break the stressful bedtime battles with a sane schedule and some aromatherapy sleep aids to help lull your child to sleep. Let me know if you have any questions. I’ll also leave you with this: What is your favorite tip on getting your children to sleep (aromatherapy or otherwise)? Please share in the comment section below.

By the way, I am available for consultations if you’d like help formulating an aromatherapy or herbal product for your child or yourself.

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As always, all material provided on this website is provided for informational or educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your healthcare professional or physician. Please consult your healthcare professional regarding any physical, mental, or emotional conditions. 

Everything You Wanted to Know About Diffusing Antimicrobial Essential Oils for Kids

It’s that time of year when you hurry through the grocery store trying not to breath too deeply. All around you people are coughing and sneezing, spreading this year’s strain of the flu bug and who knows what else!

The last thing you want to do is get sick and spread it to your kids and husband. I can’t think of a better time than now to be proactive in diffusing antimicrobial essential oils at your house. 

Safety First

Before we consider which essential oils to use, we need to remember how to safely diffuse essential oils around babies and young children (see this post for more information on children and safety with essential oils in general) :

  • Don’t diffuse essential oils with children under the age of six months. 
  • Once children reach the age of six months, you can diffuse child-safe essential oils for short periods of time for acute conditions, such as a cold or flu.
  • Keep in mind that eucalyptus and certain chemotypes of Rosemary should be avoided on children under age 10. Don’t use peppermint with children under age 6. This is due to the possibility of slowed respiration caused by menthol and 1,8-cineole in the essential oils. (These guidelines apply to both topical use and inhalations.)
  • When diffusing essential oils, run the diffuser for about 30-45 minutes minutes. Then shut off for about  60 minutes. Do not run it continuously. 
  • Please check for interactions between any medications/herbs/supplements you may be taking and any oil you want to diffuse. Additionally, if you have a chronic illness, research any oils that may be contraindicated for your condition. Healthnotes is a site that may be helpful for this, as is ND HealthFacts.

Now that we know how to properly use essential oils, let’s look at the antimicrobial essential oils that are safe to diffuse with children over the age of six months. We’ll start with a quick definition of antimicrobial.

What Are Antimicrobial Essential Oils?

Antimicrobial essential oils are oils that have antiseptic (disinfectant) properties, meaning they reduce microbial growth. Using antimicrobial essential oils and a diffuser to help clean the air in your home is a potent weapon to have in your arsenal of natural health tools. 

But keep in mind that it doesn’t mean that each essential oil kills ALL the various bacteria, virus, and fungi out there; instead, each one is effective against certain ones.

Here is a study from PubMed for you to read to get familiar with some of the properties of a few oils: Antibacterial and antifungal activity of ten essential oils in vitro.

According to Kurt Schnaubelt, Ph.D., in The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils p. 136,

“Diffusing them [essential oils] into rooms will lower the count of airborne microorganisms significantly, reducing the risk of infection especially in offices and waiting rooms. Diffusing essential oils in rooms and houses has even been reported to be effective in expelling mold from infested buildings.”

?Which Essential Oils Have Antimicrobial Properties and Are Safe for Children?

Let’s get to the list of oils that are safe to use with children. This isn’t exhaustive by any means, but contains common essential oils that you may have at home already. For each oil, I will list the core respiratory applications and the psyche/emotionapplications. 

This is helpful because when we diffuse oils, they benefit us in two ways:  through inhalation and through olfaction. Inhalation benefits our respiratory system and olfaction benefits our limbic system in the brain (emotions, nervous system, endocrine system, and so on. Each oil has other benefits for other body systems, but since those are not benefits you get through diffusing, I will not cover those.

Common Antimicrobial Oils Safe for Diffusion with Children Over 6 Months

Antimicrobial Essential Oils Safe for Diffusing for Children

Would you like to receive a free PDF of the Antimicrobial Chart and recipes? Just fill out the form below. (If you don’t see the email, check your junk mail folder.)

Recipes for Diffusion

Now let’s look at some recipes for diffusing the essential oils. For water-based diffusers, you can use anywhere from 5-10 drops of the pure essential oils. Do not dilute the essential oils in a carrier oil before adding them to the diffuser. This will gunk up the diffuser. Of the oils listed, you can use any one singly, or you can mix them together to create a powerful synergy. Here are some suggestions of possible synergies to get you started:

Synergy #1

  • 5 drops Lavender
  • 5 drops Lemon


  • 3 Drops Geranium
  • 7 drops Lavender

Synergy #3

  • 5 drops Lavender
  • 3 drops Lemon
  • 2 drops Roman Chamomile

Synergy #5 (This blend has more of a medicinal smell due to the tea tree oil.)

  • 4 drops Lemon
  • 3 drops Lavender
  • 2 drops Cypress
  • 1 drop Tea Tree

What are your favorites?

Do you have any favorite synergies that you already use that are kid-safe? I’d love for you to share them in the comment section.

Thanks for reading about diffusing antimicrobial essential oils. I hope you have a healthy year!

Note: If you would prefer not to make your own synergy, I do create custom orders for people. You can also contact me for more information.

Botanically me,

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How to Use Hydrosols

How to Use Hydrosols with Your Family

My first experience with hydrosols came when I received a pack of five of them in the mail as part of my aromatherapy studies. I opened them, smelled them, and … wondered what to do with them. Since that day a few years back, I’ve become a fan of them, well, really obsessed with them, and I use them almost every day. Their gentleness makes them perfect for use with the whole family—even the youngest ones. Let’s explore how to use hydrosols to nurture your family.

What Is a Hydrosol?

  • Hydrosols are a by-product of the essential oil distillation process. You may sometimes hear them called hydrolats, floral waters, herb waters, or distillates.
  • Hydrosols contain the water-soluble constituents of the aromatic plant and retain a very small amount of essential oil.
  • Hydrosols are not the same thing as a few drops of essential oils added to water. That is called an aromatic spritzer.
  • Hydrosols are so mild that they can be used on babies and children much more safely than essential oils can be. (For information on using essential oils with children, read my post on using EOs safely with children.)

Benefits of Hydrosols

Hydrosols vs. essential oils

Hydrosols have some of the same benefits as do their essential oils, while being much gentler. They are free of the lipophilic substances that are in essential oils and are richer in water-compatible (hydrophilic) components. This means that they are:

  • highly tolerable
  • soothing
  • generally anti-inflammatory
  • antiseptic
  • wonderful for sensitive skin
  • mildly astringent, yet nondrying

How to Use Hydrosols can be used as they are without diluting—except for use with children and when ingesting. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Babies. For babies up to six months of age, add 1 tsp of hydrosol to to an infant tub or 2 tsp in an adult tub filled for a baby. For children up to 12 years of age, use 1 tsp of hydrosol per year of age up to 8 tsp. For an adult, use from 1-8 ounces per tub. For foot baths, use 2-3 tbsp for an adult.
  2. For concentrated lotion, cleanser, cream, and gel bases: Add 1 tsp-1 tbsp at a time until you have the consistency you want.
  3. For handmade creams/lotions: Substitute a hydrosol in place of water while you are making the cream.
  4. Aromatic sprays. For adults, use full strength as body sprays or air refreshers.
  5. Toner: Adults can use full strength on face. Can mix multiple hydrosols together or can add aloe vera or honey (1-2 tbsp per 2 oz.) to the mixture.
  6. Masks. Mix a hydrosol (I love to mix German chamomile hydrosol) with green clay for a mask.  Add enough to get the consistency you want.
  7. Compresses. For children add 2 to 3 tsp of hydrosol per 1 liter of water; adults add 3-5 tbsp to 1 liter of water.
  8. Internal Use: For children OVER 3 years of age, add 1-2 tsp to 6-8 oz of a beverage, like water or tea and drink. German Chamomile hydrosol can be beneficial to help a child get to sleep. For an adult, add 1-2 tbsp to a glass of water or tea.

Be creative. Think of the potential of hydrosol uses for sunburns, wet wipes, inflamed skin, diaper rash, and so on.

How to Store Hydrosols

Fresh hydrosol that has been distilled should be pure and free of bacteria. Still, it’s best to store your hydrosols in a sterile container in the refrigerator and use within the year it is distilled.

My Take on Hydrosols

🌿This summer I experimented with making hydrosols and was successful in making German chamomile

Calendula in the distiller

hydrosol, calendula hydrosol, and lemon balm hydrosol (also called melissa hydrosol). I use the chamomile almost every day as a facial toner and alternate between using it and calendula in clay masks for facials or for bee stings. I have not yet tried it in tea or water, but have plans to mix lemon balm hydrosol in a cup of tea.

🌿I love the gentle, therapeutic qualities of hydrosols and their light fragrances. The three that I made all retain a lighter aroma of the plant than the essential oil does. If you have children, hydrosols are the perfect soothing herbal treat to use with them, and you don’t have the concerns that you do as when using essential oils.

🌿Hydrosols are definitely hard to find in retail stores, but you can order them online. Eden Botanicals,  Stillpoint Aromatics, and Mountain Rose Herbs are just three companies that carry them.

🌿Actually, as an aromatherapist, I can’t recommend hydrosols highly enough. I hope this post has given you some ideas on how to try them, and I bet that soon they’’ll be part of your go-to remedies to care for and pamper yourself and your family!

Let me know if you have any questions in the comment section, or share what your favorite hydrosol is and how you use it.

Botanically me,


I used the resources listed below as I was writing this post. (I am an affiliate for both the New York Institute and Amazon).

The New York Institute of Aromatic Studies is where I received my Level 1 aromatherapy training and certification from. I continue to study with them. You can see all the classes they offer at the hyperlink. They offer both online and in-person classes.

The following two books both have a  section on hydrosols.

How To Make Baby Salve

Ever the game players, my daughter and son-in-law asked us to play a word game just shortly after arriving to our house for Thanksgiving. “Hmm. They’re getting a little overanxious with this game thing,” I remember thinking.

Five minutes later we were trying to puzzle out a maze of words when my husband started yelling, “Is it true? Is it true?”

With my mind on Thanksgiving details, I was only half with it. I looked closer at the words. “Andrew. August. Amber. Baby. Expecting.

I jumped up and down for the next five minutes as it sank in that we were going to be grandparents!

Best Diaper Cream for Babies

With that joyful news, I started pondering what botanical product I wanted to make for the baby shower. I’m all about chemical-free and natural, so I thought a salve that could double as a diaper rash cream would be perfect.

As I worked on the formulation, I realized that for a newborn, simple is best. Over the last few years, information has changed a bit regarding essential oil usage on newborns. The current information that I learned in my certification studies is that it’s best to wait until a baby is about six months of age before starting to use highly diluted essential oils topically. Please keep in mind that this applies even more so for premature babies because they have high skin permeability. (And please remember, it’s never a good idea to have a baby ingest essential oils, either.)

Now the caveat to my previously mentioned “nevers” is if your child is under the care of a doctor, naturopath, or clinical aromatherapist, and they advise otherwise.

However, in this case, I left out all essential oils from the recipe so that I—or you—wouldn’t be worried about using the baby salve on any age baby.

With that in mind, let’s look at the recipe. It’s really pretty simple.

Baby's First Salve

A natural, chemical-free salve recipe that doubles as a diaper cream.

  • 70 grams extra virgin olive oil (58%) ((EVOO is perfect for medicinal products))
  • 36 grams calendula oil (30%)
  • 14 grams beeswax (12%)
  • steel tin or glass container

Makes aout 4 ounces of salve.


      1. Weigh and measure out all your ingredients. 

      2. Begin melting the beeswax in a double boiler.

      3. When partially melted, add the calendula oil and olive oil.

      4. As you add the oils, the beeswax may harden again a bit, so continue to stir until everything has liquefied. I find that using a baby fork to stir works very well and it’s easy to clean.

      5. Remove from heat, carefully wipe down the pot you are pouring from so that no moisture drips into your containers and pour immediately into sterilized containers.

      6. Let set until it has hardened, about an hour or two depending upon the size of containers you are using.

      7. As it hardens the salve will change from clear to opaque.

      8. Be sure to label your product, including the ingredients.

      About the Ingredients

      Olive oil is a wonderful oil to use when making medicinal type products. It has a low risk of oxidative degradation. It contains vitamins E, K, squalene, and carotenoids. It’s an antioxidant that is helpful wound healing, dry skin, and for eczema,  just to name a few things.

      Calendula oil is an herbal oil you make through infusion, and it’s a powerhouse oil for the skin. I love growing my own calendula, drying it, and using it to infuse olive oil. It’s wonderful for wound healing and tissue repair, inflamed skin conditions, cracked skin, cracked nipples due to breast feeding (nontoxic to baby), burns, insect bites, and damaged tissues and ulcers.

      Beeswax is an emulsifier and a thickener, which makes it so beneficial in natural cosmetics. It helps seal in moisture to your skin. It is also healing for your skin. A powerful trio of ingredients used together in many recipes are beeswax, honey, and olive oil. It’s interesting to note that beeswax is being studied for its antimicrobial properties.

       How To Use Baby’s First Salve

      There are several ways to use this salve.

      •  Apply it when changing baby’s diaper to protect the skin and help heal it.
      •  Nursing mothers can use this salve on sore/cracked nipples. It is not harmful to babies.
      • Irritated patches of skin. My grandson has been teething and was constantly drooling, which caused a rash on his chin. My daughter applied some of the salve to this area.

      For sanitary purposes, I would recommend reserving a separate container of the salve for using with diaper changes and a separate container for other uses.

      Baby’s First Salve is a simple, easy way to safely care for and nurture your little blessing. And best of all, since you made it, you have complete control over every ingredient. If you decide you don’t want to make your own, you can purchase Baby’s First Salve from my line of botanical products.

      Use in good health!

      Botanically me,

      Essential Oils for Kids: Safety it comes to essential oils and kids, you can’t be too careful.

      As an aromatherapist, one of the things that bothers me the most is misinformation concerning the use of essential oils on children. Too often I hear of essential oils being applied to children without diluting them first, or essential oils being put in baby bottles, or of using essential oils on very young babies.

      Six Important Guidelines to Using Essential Oils on Children

      I’ve made an essential oil infographic to help you remember 6 important guidelines about using essential oils on children.

      To sum up the guidelines:

      1. Wait until about the age of six months before using essential oils on your children. At this age you may diffuse child-safe essential oils for them for short periods of time for acute conditions.
      2. Always dilute the essential oils. See Tisserand’s chart below for the proper rates.
      3. Children should not be ingesting essential oils. Remember, essential oils are 75 to 100 times stronger than the plant they come from. The exception to this is if your child is under the care of a doctor, naturopath, or clinical aromatherapist trained in the practice of ingesting essential oils.
      4. For children under the age of five, use essential oils for acute conditions like injuries or illnesses.
      5. Avoid using essential oils everyday on your children. With repeated prolonged use, they may become sensitized to the oils. When using creams or salves on their skin, alternate with days when you use unscented products..
      6. Keep in mind that eucalyptus and certain chemotypes of Rosemary should be avoided on children under age 10. Don’t use peppermint with children under age 6. This is due to the possibility of slowed respiration caused by menthol and 1,8-cineole in the essential oils. (These guidelines apply to both topical use and inhalations.) A gentler option to use on young children is rosalina.

      You can also explore more specific information in this post on diffusing antimicrobial essential oils safely with children .

      Hydrosols are a Good Option for Babies

      Keep in mind that hydrosols are much gentler then essential oils and can be used on babies. Hydrosols are a by-product of the distillation process of essential oils and they retain a tiny amount of the essential oil along with the water soluble, volatile components of the plant. They will have a fragrance similar to but not as strong as the essential oil. They are gentle, but still beneficial for health and wellness.

      One way you could choose to use them would be to add 1 tsp of your chosen hydrosol to an infant bathtub or 2 tsp. of hydrosol added to an adult tub filled with the smaller amount of water suitable for an infant. For children up to 12 years old, add 1 tsp. of hydrosol for every year of age up to a maximum of 8 teaspoons.

      In summary, essential oils can be an important part of a wellness program for your children as long as you follow the safety guidelines. What is one way you use essential oils to help care for your children?

      Botanically me,