Is Peppermint Oil Safe for Babies?

mint oil
A bottle of peppermint oil on a rustic table. (Image: CGissemann/iStock/Getty Images)

Peppermint oil is made by distilling the ground parts of the peppermint plant, and not all of its possible uses are thoroughly tested and proven. There may be situations where you wonder if peppermint oil will help your baby overcome a sickness or if it is safe for you to take while you are breastfeeding. Peppermint oil is not safe for babies and can be life-threatening.

Peppermint Oil Uses

Peppermint oil is often used for digestive problems, and Medline Plus states that it is also sometimes inhaled to treat coughs and colds. It may also be added to herbal medications or antiseptic products, or applied to the skin to treat a headache. It can be swallowed in the form of capsules or applied to the skin as a tincture, which is a combination of peppermint oil and peppermint extract.

Safety

Peppermint oil is toxic when consumed in excessive amounts. According to American Family Physician, giving it to an infant orally or putting it near his face can cause life-threatening breathing problems. It can also give him a burning sensation in his mouth and tongue spasms. Avoid giving peppermint oil to your baby unless his doctor recommends it specifically.

Breastfeeding

American Family Physician indicates that there is not enough data to determine the safety of taking peppermint oil if you are breastfeeding. Peppermint itself is likely safe in the amounts found in food flavoring, but avoid the oil and any other use of peppermint as an herbal medication while nursing to avoid potentially harming your baby. The University of Maryland Medical Center even suggests that nursing mothers avoid drinking peppermint tea.

Recommendations

Until your baby is 4 to 6 months old, she only needs breast milk or formula. She does not need any foods flavored with peppermint oil. If she shows signs of a cold or cough, ask her doctor about the best method of treatment. The risks associated with peppermint oil and other herbal remedies outweigh the potential benefits.

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