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Practitioner combines aromatherapy, massage to combat common childhood ailments such as colic, colds, teething

When Stephanie Bauer's 3-year-old daughter, Sage, resisted putting on her shoes and threw a temper tantrum, Bauer took out a bottle labeled "gentle baby" oil and let her smell it.

Within a couple of minutes, Sage had calmed down.

When Sage had a nagging cold, Bauer put a blend of eucalyptus and lavender oils into a vaporizer and let the steam waft through her daughter's bedroom. She slept soundly through the night, and the next morning, her cold symptoms had subsided.

Bauer, 29, has been experimenting with the therapeutic properties of essential oils since she was a teenager, and after becoming a mom, she was impressed with how quickly her child responded to their healing properties.

Bauer, a Petaluma resident, is teaching a one-day course Saturday focusing on aromatherapy, acupressure and massage for infants and children. The class is sponsored by the Petaluma Parks and Recreation Department.

By familiarizing parents with a few basic acupressure techniques, Bauer hopes to give them useful tools for treating common childhood ailments, such as colic, nagging coughs, sore throats, sleeping problems and teething.

Bauer, who is a licensed acupressure therapist, yoga instructor and emergency medical technician, will teach parents to apply pressure at certain points on the body for specific maladies.

Acupressure originated in Asia about 5,000 years ago, and works like acupuncture except no needles are used. Instead, practitioners use finger pressure, magnets or heat.

The acupressure technique for children is slightly different than for adults, Bauer said. With an adult, it's common to apply pressure deeper into the skin than for a child.

"Sometimes just by touching the skin you can feel the pulse come in. It can take one second to five minutes," Bauer said.

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