The skin is a highly absorbant organ; so if you’re looking for a DIY vapor rub that you’re comfortable rubbing into your baby’s skin – or yours – this is it.
My daughter never had a full-blown sickness until this last month – but she did get her very first stuffy nose when she was only a few weeks old. It was the kind of minor sniffles that I wouldn’t even have noticed in my hubby, but in my brand-new baby – PANIC!!! I was headed for the drugstore at the first sign of phlegm.
Problem: every brand of vapor rub I could find had a big old warning label on it: Not for use on children under 2 years of age.
Okay, so…what was I supposed to do for the next 23 months?
Then I found the baby version. Oh, goodie! My child’s respiratory wellness is assured!
Or so it seemed.
I’d heard not to use a vapor rub on her chest (at least the adult version) because of the risk that it would actually inflame her respiratory passages even more and cause respiratory distress – but, just about every mom in my mommy group (and every nurse in the family – I’m blessed to have some medical professionals I can call even at 2 am) swore by “the sock trick,” i.e., rubbing the vapor rub on baby’s feet, then putting socks on over top.
First, let me assure you, that sock trick totally works. Even for adults. It’s magical. I used it myself when I had a cold – not because I was worried about my respiratory tracts, though. I was just curious. It was nice not to have that overpowering vapor rub-smell right under my nose! It did make me feet feel a little weirdly cold – but that was almost kind of nice. At least I could still taste my chicken soup, rather than having all my senses overwhelmed by menthol-smell.
Second, once I read the ingredients label for the vapor rub, I came to two conclusions: 1.) I was uncomfortable with the fact that the first ingredient was petrolatum, and, 2.) The rest of the ingredients were just varying amounts of essential oils (I’m referring to the baby-version of the vapor rub; the adult version is full of all kinds of whacky junk). It wouldn’t be too hard to just make my own, sans petrolatum.
*Note: Why sans petrolatum? The warnings on the label tell you not to even let it near your mouth, eyes, nostrils, or even broken or damaged skin. Obviously, it’s not exactly something I’d want to eat - or my baby to eat! The obvious counter would be, “But you’re not eating it, you’re putting it on your skin.” Yes, and the skin is a highly absorbant organ – hence all the topical creams on the market. A simple rub-on cream can function as a birth control, hormone replacement therapy, or control motion sickness. Clearly, what you put on your skin doesn’t stay on your skin.
I was able to find several recipes for vapor rubs, but I wasn’t too crazy about any one in particular. One was kind of stinky; another, too greasy. Nothing I really liked. I finally just made this one up on my own – a non-staining, quickly absorbed, nasal-passage-clearing, smell-good DIY vapor rub that is safe for babies, yet effective on adults.
DIY Vapor Rub:
- 3 TBSP coconut oil
- 5-10 drops eucalyptus oil
- 2-5 drops rosemary oil (pregnant mamas should omit this if they will be using this recipe on themselves! Click here for an explanation of why)
- 2-5 drops lavender oil (optional, but it smells great)
Starting with the minimum amounts of each EO, mix together all ingredients and place in a tightly-lidded container (tightly-lidded because if the coconut oil gets too warm, it will melt. It’ll also keep the scents from dissipating). Add more drops of the oils until you have the desired nasal-clearing scent.
Even though I strongly recommend omitting the rosemary oil for pregnant women, note that this oil will not be harmful to your little ones outside the womb! Rosemary oil is what’s called an emmenagogue - something that helps regulate menstruation, and can inadvertantly cause a miscarriage by sending the wrong signals to the body. Outside of pregnancy, rosemary oil is a very safe, natural, and healthful way to clear your sinuses.
I sincerely hope everyone stays healthy this season! But if it’s just not possible, I hope this helps!
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