The systems in a child’s body are not fully developed and “some of the components found in some essential oils" can be too much for their young systems to process”.
Essential oils have different properties, chem types, and different contraindications. There are some essential oils that you need to avoid & some that need to be used with caution especially when making essential oil blends for children.
And because essential oils are so concentrated, you should:
always use age-appropriate essential oils and dilutions before applying blends topically to your child’s skin
children should never ingest any essential oil
Babies and Children up to age 2:
Babies and young children have very delicate skin. Hydrosols are a better option for babies, they are much milder, have their own set of properties and work really well for babies and young children. Hydrosols (or Floral Waters) are the by-product of the steam distillation process of plant material. They work really well for skincare for the entire family.
For Babies 2 months up to 6 months: Add Lavender, Rose or Roman Chamomile Hydrosol to the bathwater. Diluted, these hydrosols can also be used to soothe any diaper rashes or skin irritation. Apply some plain jojoba oil after cleaning an irritated diaper area.
For Babies 6 months to 1 year: a well diluted massage oil with Lavender, Mandarin, or Roman Chamomile essential oil can be used to soothe the baby’s skin and help them to relax. (Massaging the abdomen of colicky babies can sometimes help ease gas pains). Add some of these essential oils to jojoba oil for after a diaper change.
Diffuse 2-3 drops of these essential oils as well as Palmarosa or *Tangerine essential oil especially during the cold season.
Children 2 years to 5 years: You can also use Geranium, Neroli, Rosalina, Fir Needle, Frankincense, Sweet Marjoram & small amounts of Tea Tree, Ginger and Spearmint essential oils. You can dilute 3 – 5 drops of essential oil in 45 ml of carrier oil.
When using your diffuser. (Depending on the age of the child), add 3 – 4 drops of essential oils to your ultrasonic diffuser at bedtime or during the cold season.
*Children are sensitive to scent, so when diffusing essential oils less is definitely better. Start with 1 -5 drops depending on the age and health of the child and diffuse only when needed for things like congestion or sleep issues. And only for 15 – 30 minutes, 2-3 per day or use the intermittent setting.
For topical use:
always use at a low dilution .25% – 1% depending on the age & the health of the child; it is best to use one essential oil at a time so you can watch out for skin irritation and possible allergies.
If you want to add essential oils to a child’s bath, dilute them first in a carrier oil then add them to the bathwater. Otherwise, the undiluted essential oils will just float on top of the bathwater, which may irritate their sensitive skin and mucous membranes. (If your child has sensitive skin add some Lavender Hydrosol to the bath water instead.)
*Citrus oils are wonderful and calming to diffuse but topically, some citrus oils are photosensitive to varying degrees, so don’t apply them to your child’s skin if you are going out into the sun as this may cause a bad sunburn and/or possible blistering. Reactions vary and may occur up to 2 days after sun exposure. So use caution and common sense.
Always dilute before topical use.
If someone in your family is allergic to Ragweed, use caution when using Roman Chamomile on a younger child. Sometimes allergies run in families.
Children 6 years to 8 years: For this age, you can dilute 4 – 6 drops of essential oil in 30 ml of carrier oil.
Add up to 3 – 4 drops of essential oils to your diffuser at bedtime or during the cold season.
Children 9 years to 12 years: At this age, you can dilute 6 -8 drops of essential oil in 30 ml of carrier oil.(This is a better age to use Eucalyptus or Peppermint essential oils.)
Add up to 4 – 6 drops of essential oils to your diffuser at bedtime or during the cold season.
Children Age 13 & Over: You can use adult dosages of essential oils. (2 % dilution for everyday use, 3 % dilution for short term use for colds, congestion or pain, depending on the health of the child)
Essential Oil with Children: I tend to err on the side of caution with younger children. For children, ages 2 & up, oils that I prefer to use for inhalation or diffusion are Fir Needle (Abies siberica) or Wild Black Spruce (Picea mariana). They are safe to use and are a lighter scent. Most children don’t like strong smells anyway.
My Blog is for information only & is not meant to diagnose or replace medical advice.
Essential Oils are not for ingestion & should always be diluted before topical use
Battaglia Salvatore. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. 2nd edition, The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy, Australia, 2003
Caddy, Rosemary, Aromatherapy, The Essential Blending Guide, Amberwood Publishing, Rochester England, 3rd edition 2007
Catty, Suzanne, Hydrosols, The Next Aromatherapy, Healing Arts Press, a division of Inner Trade International, 2001.
Davis, Patricia. Aromatherapy an A-Z. New revised edition, Vermilion, an imprint of Edbury Publishing, a Random House Company, 2005
Tisserand, Robert, & Rodney Young, Essential Oil Safety, 2nd Edition, Churchill Livingstone, 2014
Worwood, Valerie Ann, Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child, First New World Library Printing, 2000