Essential oils hold a lot of benefits for our health and well-being. As a parent, you want to include your children in your approach to natural health. And what a fantastic parenting opportunity that is! In this article, you’ll discover some of the easy and practical tips that help you teach aromatherapy to your children. Learning safe essential oils use for kids will be a joyful experience for everyone involved.
How Can Essential Oils Help Children?
The many health benefits of essential oils are genuinely extraordinary. Children struggle with their own set of emotional and physical needs. From sleeping problems to bug bites; from social anxiety or difficulty focusing at school.
- See also: 5 Oils to Support Your Kids at School
Supporting your children with essential oils will come as a natural extension of your own practice of using essential oils in day to day life. If done correctly and with the appropriate understanding for age appropriate essential oils use on kids, it’s of course completely fine to use essential oils for kids’ aliments, too!
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Why the Special Considerations?
- Children are particularly sensitive to aroma
- Children’s skin is more sensitive to products applied
- Children’s immune systems are still under development
- Children have less body mass to absorb and balance intake of outside influences
A Child’s Timeline for Using Essential Oils
As children grow, so does their immune system and many other parts of their bodily functions. It comes as no surprise then, that aromatherapy for kids is based on an age-appropriate timeline. Please consult with an aromatherapist or medical professional before using essential oils on children under two years of age. The general milestone steps are as follows:
- Under the age of 6 months, absolutely avoid any contact with essential oils.
- From 6-24 months, you may start to consider diffusing kid safe oils for short periods of time and for a specific purpose around your youngster. Do not make a habit of applying essential oils topically yet, except for one-off acute cases (such as a bug bite), and of course ensure appropriate dilution of 0.5% at this age.
- After 2 years, topical dilution at 1% is okay. Essential oil hydrosols are also a gentle way to introduce your child to essential oils, and are safe to use.
- By age 6, most children’s immune system will have matured and their thicker skin provides more protection for most topical essential oil applications 1. 2% dilution is okay for most oils and most kids. Consult a Certified Aromatherapist to make sure.
- A few select essential oils remain avoidable until age 10, but after that age, no more special considerations apply.
Which Essential Oils to Avoid on Kids
Some essential oils are simply not safe to use around children, in no way. Not to inhale, and not topically. This is where it gets a little bit complicated. As there are multiple species (also called “chemotypes”) of an essential oil, you absolutely must pay attention to these fineprints. While some chemotypes may be safe, a different species may be considered troublesome for children. In general, look for high amounts of 1,8-Cineole, which is not safe for kids.
On www.usingeossafely.com, author Lea Jacobson provides a fantastic alphabetical list of essential oils to avoid on kids, and at which ages. Find it here.
From that list, I thought it was especially important to note the top 3 essential oils to avoid with kids:
- Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus camaldulensis, Eucalyptus globulus, Eucalyptus maidenii, Eucalyptus plenissima, Eucalyptus kochii, Eucalyptus polybractea, Eucalyptus radiata, Eucalyptus Autraliana, Eucalyptus phellandra, Eucalyptus smithii): do not use on children under age 10.
- Peppermint (Mentha x piperita): do not use on children under age 6.
- Rosemary 1,8-cineole chemotype (Rosmarinus officinalis) – do not use on children under 10.
Best Essential Oils for Kids
Regular strength essential oils and essential oil dilutions are too strong for use on kids. Think about it: for children aged 2-10 years, their bodies are about half the size and weight of ours, at a maximum. Of course any home remedies adults use would be too strong for them. That’s why there are such things as children’s Advil, children’s Nyquil, and many other children specific medications.
Certain essential oils are not recommended for kids whatsoever. That’s why popular essential oil brands like Rocky Mountain Oils, Plant Therapy, or Edens Garden have formulated kid-safe essential oil lines that are:
- Not using any oils that kids can’t tolerate, and
- Are mixed in such ratios to be effective on kids, but not overwhelm their systems.
Essential Oils for Calming Kids
- Lavender oil possesses an extremely distinctive yet soothing scent. It has almost become a symbol of aromatherapy itself! Use it for sleep, calming, relaxation and topically for bug bites, scratches and bruises. Lavender essential oils may also be added to steam showers or a huge basin of hot water for your kid to inhale (to ease chest congestion). Please note you should never apply essential oils (not even Lavender) neat to your skin.
Essential Oils for ADHD Kids
- Diffuse gentle Chamomile oil to aid your child’s hyperactivity and help them control impulse behavior. Both varieties of German and Roman Chamomile are fine to use. They are naturally soothing and can also be used to aid insomnia in both adults and babies. Chamomile paired with Lavender may relieve symptoms of colic 4.
Essential Oils for Indigestion in Kids
When your son or daughter comes home feeling a little fatigued and is starting to get congested, your heart may sink. The first and easiest supporting home remedies are to have him or her drink enough water, and get enough rest. If you wish to use your aromatherapy knowledge (and stash of essential oils!) to aid a crampy tummy, you can also use PoopEase™ from Plant Therapy.
- Use Plant Therapy’s PoopEase™ blend to help with troublesome bowel movements. Not only can indigestion and constipation be painful, but it can also lead to potty anxiety in your child. Dilute 2% of the blend into a carrier oil of choice and massage in a clockwise circular motion to the lower abdomen. Best applied 1-2 times daily, especially prior to bedtime. Use over the course of a few days to notice results.
How to Apply Essential Oils on Children
If you’re wondering how, and how often, to apply oils on your children, this is an incredibly tough question to answer. It depends on which oils you plan to use, and for how long of a time period. It also depends on the overall condition of your child. If you want a finite answer, consult your local Certified Aromatherapist for an individual assessment and treatment plan.
As a generalization, the best comparison I like to give, is like this: Using essential oils is like eating food: strive for a balanced diet. If you’ve been using Lavender for a day or two (or three), switch it up on the fourth day. You wouldn’t eat spaghetti and meat balls for a week straight either, would you?!
Definitely make sure to always dilute essential oils appropriately, and read all special safety precautions or notes on the particular oil you’re going to use. Just like regular medicines, a lot of essential oils oils have cautions for pregnancy and nursing, too.
Signs of Essential Oils Overdose
Essential oils absorb quickly into our body. The smells reach our brain in just a few seconds. Through topical application, it takes about 15-30 minutes on average for the essential oils to make it into your blood stream ². If you notice any of the following symptoms, you may be dealing with an essential oils overdose ³:
- Skin irritation (rashes, red spots, itchiness)
- Shortness of breath (wheezing)
- Gagging/choking or a persistent cough
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
Please call for immediate medical assistance if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms.
Are Essential Oils Safe for Babies?
Aromatherapy for babies isn’t all that widely practiced, but latest studies have demonstrated that it can have excellent impacts on the well-being of your infant. More information to follow. In the meantime, the following book is a fantastic reference written by a registered nurse trained in herbal medicine, reflexology and massage.
It’s simple for your children to have fun with aromatherapy, and also to keep your kids safe around your oils. Once you’ve decided what natural health means to your family, educate yourself well, and then go and grow from there! Parents all want the very best for their babies and, in regards to essential oils, be sure to get the freshest and healthiest essential oils available. Last but not least, be sure to follow the guidelines for safe use of oils around kids such as proper dilution rates, not ingesting oils and avoiding certain oils for certain ages.
¹ Using Essential Oils Safely with Children: https://www.usingeossafely.com/essential-oils-and-children/
² Dermal Absorption of Essential Oils: https://ndnr.com/mindbody/dermal-absorption-of-essential-oils/
³ Essential oils – Health warning: https://healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/A_E/Essential-oils
4 Safe Essential Oils for Babies and How to Use Them: https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/essential-oils-for-babies