The Skinny on Your Kids and Essential Oils

Updated: Mar 11, 2021

When it comes to our kids, every parent wants what's best. As a certified aromatherapist, I've had to learn just how powerful essential oils can be and I want to share what I have learned with you.

It can take 30 lbs of lavender and 75 lemons to make each 15 ml bottle of essential oil. In short, they are very concentrated forms of the plant chemicals (yes, chemicals) and what else is they are very effective in doing what they do. In most cases we dilute essential oils (for adults) to a 3-5% ratio of carrier. In light of this, what I would like to stress is please don't use pure drops of 100% essential oil on your children or yourselves.

Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  • For babies under 3 months, use NO oils whatsoever on or around them.

  • For Children under the age of 2, hydrosols should only be used as a room spray or if you use a diffuser, use only one drop of essential oil and turn it off when the child is in the room and use only 1 drop in diffuser.

  • No essential oils should be used on children under the age of 2. Please avoid using essential oils as a teething reliever, such as Clove Oil. It's a really hot, spicy oil and is way too strong for most adults let alone small children. Instead buy German chamomile hydrosol, freeze it on a cloth for the child to chew on. (A hydrosol is the water by product that is separated from the essential oil when distilling the plants.)

  • With diaper rash, use natural oils, such as jojoba (matches the sebum of our skin) & tamanu oil. Coconut oil can trap heat so its best to avoid it when skin is irritated.

  • For Kids between the age of 2 - 5, there are a number of safe oils & the best way to use them is with a diffuser.

  • For kids 2-5, ONLY these oils are considered safe: Lavender, Sweet Orange, Cedarwood, Bergamot, Roman Chamomile, Frankincense, Geranium, Ginger, Lemon, Sweet Marjoram, Tea Tree, and Thyme ct Linalol. Please note: Lemon and Bergamot oils are phototoxic so please do not use it on exposed skin in summer on yourself or your children (see below for a complete list of phototoxic oils).

  • As children get older the list of oils that can be used grows and the oils to AVOID are Birch, Eucalyptus oils except for Eucalyptus citriodora & Eucalyptus Dives (these chemotypes are the only safe Eucalyptus oils for small children), & Wintergreen. Avoid using these oils on or near the face, this includes the chest area.

  • Dilution rates start out very low at young ages. As adults, oils are generally blended at a 3-5% dilution with carrier oil. With Children ages 5-10 the dilution rate is 1-2% of EOs, 5-10 drops in carrier oil. Diffuser use should be timed to a maximum 30 minutes with an hour off. Under the age of 2 its .5%-1% max (that's max 5 drops in 1 oz of carrier oil).

  • From ages 10 through puberty, Avoid Chaste Tree. Dilution is recommended at 1-3% which equals 5-15 drops of EOs per 1 oz of carrier oil. Diffuser use is the same as adults, 5-6 drops.

Some oils can be incredible with children. Ginger is great for nausea (please avoid Peppermint), Lavender for stress and sleep, Bergamot and orange, great for anxiety. Essential oils work great also as fever reducers, such as Roman Chamomile in a cooling compress placed on head, under arms and back of neck.

When in doubt use hydrosol sprays, such as lavender, for children under the age of 2. They smell amazing and if your child is fussy, all you have to do is spray it in the room, in the crib and calm will envelop your child.

I'm don't want to sound paranoid, but caution should be exercised with EOs. Everyone reacts differently to the scents of oils, even bringing emotional memories to the forefront with odors. Certain scents bring me back to fond memories of childhood, such as walking by honeysuckle in the summer. Some oils can cause a lot of skin sensitivity like photo-toxicity, many of the citrus oils fall into this category (Bergamot, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lime and lesser used Angelica Root and Rue). If you put on these essential oils they can cause severe redness, darkening of skin, edema and potentially blistering on sun-exposed skin.

Of my favorite oils for children, there are 5 oils which are super safe to use: Lavender, Cedarwood, Sweet Orange, Frankincense & Roman Chamomile. These oils pretty much can be all you need. They are gentle yet effective.

Please keep an eye out in the near future as my plan is to come out with a small line of Kid Safe essential oil products.

Below you can find guidelines for using essential oils with children:

Ages 1-2*: Maximum Dilution of 0.5%, one drop in 10ml or 1/3 oz.

Ages 2-5: Maximum Dilution of 1%, 2 drops in 10ml or 1/3 oz.

Ages 6-10: Maximum Dilution of 3%, 6 drops in 10ml or 1/3 oz.

Ages 11 and Up: Maximum Dilution of 5%, 10 drops in 10ml or 1/3 oz.

*under age 2 there should be no topical application of the essential oils due to the delicate nature of not only the infant’s skin but their internal organs as well.

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