If you’re new to essential oils you may be wondering about how you can use them safely and effectively with your children. There is so much information out there and everyone has their own opinions about essential oils and their uses, it can feel a little intimidating to begin. I know that feeling all too well!
As a mother and certified doula I spent years doing research, talking to professionals, and studying up on oil safety so that I could serve my clients and their children in the best possible way. In my own life, I wanted to make sure my children’s wellness was our top priority, giving me even more drive to dive into the world of essential oil safety for kids. After years of learning in this area, I now teach these important basics to mothers and oil users to help empower them on their journey.
To start this post off I want to preface it by saying that I while I am passionate and educated in this area, I am not a doctor or certified aromatherapist! I am simply a mother who feels that essential oils are a powerful and natural tool! I always suggest that my clients talk to their health care provider, naturopath, or a licensed aromatherapist for concerns about safety, use, and more.
With that being said, when using essential oils with children safety is key. It is better to be overly cautious than to over do it with essential oils. Unlike fragrances and perfume oils, essential oils are strong plant medicine and that should be respected always. We need to take great caution and care when exposing our young children to these little bottles and we always need to keep proper usage in mind.
Here are some of the most important basics to know when using essential oils with children//
Essential oils should be usedwithcaution and intent.
It is not recommended that essential oils be used (topically, or inhaled) with babies before the age of six months due to their thinner skin and immature immune systems.
After the age of sixmonths, you may diffuse child safe essential oils for a specific purpose and short periods of time. For an acute case (like a bee sting or bug bite), you may use essential oils topically, but this should be the exception and not the norm. Children are particularly sensitive to aroma and products applied to the skin.
After the age of 2 years you may start topical use with a very low dilution (less than 1%), but keep in mind a child’s immune system takes several years to fully develop, making them less able to deal with the adverse affects which may arise when concentrated products are used improperly on or around them.
After the age of 6 years the immune system has likely matured, and adverse reactions from low dilutions of essential oils are not as likely. You’ll still want to use low dilutions (usually 1%), but thicker skin is going to provide more protection from topical applications so i always suggest applying to the bottom of the feet with children.
Oils that are SAFE for kids:
When used appropriately, in the right situations, with the proper dilution and application, the following essential oils (pay attention to chemotype and Latin/botanical name) are NOT known to produce adverse reactions when used with children (this list is not exhaustive):
Pines -except Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa), or Huon Pine (Dacrydium franklinii)
Siberian Fir Needle
*Note:while Vetiver is safe for children I would not recommend it for sleep support because it is known to cause vivid dreams and sometimes nightmares, which could scare your child, so it is best avoided and replaced with cedarwood or lavender instead.
Oils that are UNSAFE for kids:
Some essential oils have several different species or chemotypes – some are safe for children, and some are not. Please take note of the species or chemotype noted to lessen confusion with other essential oils with the same name.
NOTE: if it says “avoid using (all routes)” that means everything – do not use topicallyor allow them to inhale.
Anise/AniseedPimpinella anisum – avoid using (all routes) with children under 5
Anise (Star)Illicium verum – avoid using (all routes) with children under 5
Basil (lemon)Ocimum x citriodorum – avoid topical use on children under 2
BenzoinStyrax benzoin, Styrax paralleloneurus and Styrax tonkinensis – avoid topical use on children under 2
Birch (sweet)Betula lenta – avoid using (all routes) with children
Black SeedNigella sativa – avoid topical use on children under 2
CajuputMelaleuca cajuputi, Melaleuca leucadendron – avoid using with children under 6
CardamonElettaria cardamomum – avoid using (all routes) with children under 6
CassiaCinnamomum cassia, Cinnamomum aromaticum – avoid topical use on children under 2
Chaste TreeVitex agnus castus – avoid using (all routes) with prepubertal children
Clove Bud, Clove Leaf, Clove StemSyzygium aromaticum, Eugenia caryophyllata, Eugenia aromatica – avoid topical use on children under 2
CornmintMentha arvensis, Mentha canadensis – avoid using (all routes) with children under 6
EucalyptusEucalyptus camaldulensis, Eucalyptus globulus, Eucalyptus maidenii, Eucalyptus plenissima, Eucalyptus kochii, Eucalyptus polybractea, Eucalyptus radiata, Eucalyptus Autraliana,Eucalyptus phellandra, Eucalyptus smithii – avoid using (all routes) with children under 10
Fennel (bitter), Fennel (sweet)Foeniculum vulgare – avoid using (all routes) with children under 5
Galangal (lesser)Alpinia officinarum, Languas officinarum – avoid using (all routes) with children under 6
GarlicAllium sativum – avoid topical use on children under 2
Ginger LilyHedychium coronarium – avoid topical use on children under 2
Ho Leaf/Ravintsara Cinnamomum camphora (cineole chemotype) – avoid using with children under 6
HyssopHyssopus officinalis (pinocamphone chemptype) – avoid using (all routes) with children under 2
Laurel Leaf/Bay LaurelLaurus nobilis – avoid topical use on children under 2; avoid all routes for children under age 6
Lemon Leaf/Lemon PetitgrainCitrus x limon, Citrus limonum – avoid topical use on children under 2
LemongrassCymbopogon flexuosus, Andropogon flexuosus, Cymbopogon citratus, Andropogon citratus – avoid topical use on children under 2
Marjoram (Spanish)Thymus mastichina – avoid using (all routes) with children under 6
MassoiaCryptocarya massoy, Cryptocaria massoia, Massoia aromatica – avoid using (all routes) with children under 2
May ChangLitsea cubeba, Litsea citrata, Laura cubeba – avoid topical use with children under 2
Melissa/Lemon BalmMelissa officinalis – avoid topical use with children under 2
Myrtle (red)Myrtus communis – avoid using (all routes) with children under 6
Myrtle (aniseed)Backhousia anisata – avoid using (all routes) with children under 5
Myrtle (honey)Melaleuca teretifolia – avoid topical use on children under 2
Myrtle (lemon)/Sweet VerbenaBackhousia citriodora – avoid topical use on children under 2
Niaouli (cineole chemotype) Melaleuca quinquinervia – avoid using (all routes) on children under 6
OakmossEvernia prunastri – avoid topical use on children under 2
OpopanaxCommiphora guidottii – avoid topical use on children under 2
OreganoOriganum onites, Origanum smyrnaeum, Origanum vulgare, Origanum compactum, Origanum hirtum, Thymbra capitata, Thymus capitatus, Coridothymus capitatus, Satureeja capitata – avoid topical use on children under 2
PeppermintMentha x Piperita – avoid using (all routes) with children under 6
Peru BalsamMyroxylon balsamum, Myroxylon pereiraw, Myroxylon peruiferum, Myrospermum pereirae, Toluifera pereirae – avoid topical use on children under 2
Rambiazana Helichrysum gymnocephalum – avoid using (all routes) with children under 6
Rosemary (1,8-cineole chemotype) Rosmarinus officinalis – avoid using (all routes) with children under 10
SaffronCrocus sativus – avoid topical use on children under 2
Sage (Greek), Salvia fruiticosa, Salvia triloba Sage (White) – avoid using (all routes) with children under 6
Sage (White)Salvia apiana – avoid using (all routes) with children under 6
Sage (Wild Mountain)Hemizygia petiolata – avoid topical use on children under 2
SannaHedychium spicatum – avoid using (all routes) with children under 6
SaroCinnamosma fragrans – avoid using (all routes) with children under 6
SavorySatureia hortensis, Satureia montana – avoid topical use on children under 2
StyraxLiquidambar orientalis, Liquidambar styraciflua – avoid topical use on children under 2
Tea Leaf/Black TeaCamellia sinensis, Thea sinensis – avoid topical use on children under 2
Tea Tree (lemon-scented)Leptospermum petersonii, Leptospermum citratum, Leptospermum liversidgei – avoid topical use on children under 2
TreemossPseudevernia furfuracea – avoid topical use on children under 2
TuberosePolianthes tuberosa – avoid topical use on children under 2
TurpentinePinus ayacahuite, Pinus caribaea, Pinus contorta, Pinus elliottii, Pinus halepensis, Pinus insularis, Pinus kesiya, Pinus merkusii, Pinus palustris, Pinus pinaster, Pinus radiata, Pinus roxburghii, Pinus tabulaeformis, Pinus teocote, Pinus yunnanensis – avoid topical use on children under 2
Verbena (Lemon)Aloysia triphylla, Aloysia citriodora, Lippa citriodora, Lippa triphylla – avoid topical use on children under 2
WintergreenGaultheria fragrantissima, Gaultheria procumbens – avoid (all routes) on children due to methyl salicylate content under age 10
Ylang-Ylang Cananga odorata – avoid topical use on children under 2
Age appropriate dilution:
On creating routines:
For children 2+ essential oils can be an amazing way to support their sleep, immune systems, and so much more. I strongly believe in the power of routines when it comes to using oils in these areas, making them as a natural part of your every day gives them power. My biggest suggestion to parents who are trying to incorporate oils into their child’s routine is to start small. Instill one routine at a time to support your child’s needs. The easiest place to start is bed time! Most of our children could use help getting a good night’s sleep and oils have been very successful in promoting sound sleep for children and adults alike. Turning the diffuser on while your children get in their pj’s can start a smooth transition to bedtime, creating a calming environment for them to unwind. Oils like Peace & Calming and Cedarwood are great choices for this. You can also create a calming linen spray to mist their bedding and pillows with, an additional way to relax your children and create a bedtime ritual. Once you find the oil combinations and methods that work for you and your children you can start supporting them in other areas like their immune systems or their emotions!
Favorite Oily Tips for Kids:
Have a teething baby? Copaiba is an amazing natural anti-inflammatory and is amazing at relieving those sore baby gums! Make a roller and apply to the jaw line or rub neat onto the sore spot for support. It’s also in the Premium Starter Kit.
Gentle Baby is a wonderful blend for postpartum mothers and babies alike. Its calming and soothing aroma is perfect for diffusing in the nursery or wearing as a daily postpartum perfume.
Young Living has a line of pre-diluted oils designed especially for children that includes blends to promote focus, sleep, relieve ouchies, and more! These oils are a great addition to your Starter Kit if you have children and are great for throwing in your diaper bag or purse.
Want clean, essential oil infused products for your babies and young children? Explore Young Living’s Seedlings line! These gentle products with naturally derived ingredients are the perfect way to kick the harmful chemicals from your children’s personal care products.