gentle baby | how to safely use essential oils around your children
The younger the child, the more sensitive and delicate they are. A baby’s skin absorbs products more easily, their immune, respiratory and central nervous system isn’t yet fully developed and their sense of smell is different than ours. Although I’d recommend you to get your hands on good literature to support healthy essential oil usage (Essential Oil Safety, The Complete Book of Essential Oils for Mama and Baby and Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child are good ones) and talk to a professional, here’s a post on how you and your children can safely enjoy the amazing benefits of essential oils!
WHERE TO START:
DO YOUR RESEARCH: Whether it’s for you or your child - research first, use later. Essential oils are very strong and potent and affect us differently at different stages of life (childhood, pregnancy, breastfeeding, illness etc). Always ask: what age is this appropriate for? Are there any hazards or contradictions?
ALWAYS DILUTE THE OILS: A single drop of essential oil withholds and incredible amount of strength & respective medical properties. This is amazing! Just make sure to dilute properly, even when adding essential oils to the bathwater of children.
AVOID INGESTING: You will probably find a whole lot opinions about this but as long as you’re not a doctor treating a patient this is something you should really avoid. As Robert Tisserand puts it: “a patient should not ingest essential oils unless advised to do so by a practitioner who is qualified/licensed to prescribe essential oils in this way.”
PAY CLOSE ATTENTION: When you add a new element to your child’s environment, remember to make sure fresh air is available and monitor the reactions very closely to understand whether or not it affects your babe in a negative way.
WHAT OILS TO SAVE FOR LATER IN LIFE
There are many amazing oils that we (the adults) can use but not our little ones, for many reasons. This might be because the essential oil has hormonal properties, or it may be too powerful for the weaker constitution of children. Since we don’t want to play with their health, it’s important that we respect the potency and strength of essential oils and simply choose to not use some oils until later in life.
Wintergreen and Sweet Birch should absolutely not be used on or given to children in any amount due to the risk of developing Reye’s syndrome, and Peppermint Oil should be avoided until the child is older than 6 years due to triggering a reflex in young children which slows breathing significantly, sometimes even dangerously.
Instead of giving you a complete list of what to avoid, I’ve chosen to focus on what oils your children can actually benefit from instead. When used correctly, essential oils can be used as wonderful tools of healing! These are only general guidelines and remember that great care should be taken to research each essential oil's maximum dermal use individually before use.
OILS SAFE FOR NEWBORNS TO 3 MONTHS
The first three months of a baby’s life you should really just enjoy the scent of your newborn. Your newborn is better off without essential oils!
camomile roman, camomile german, dill, lavender, mandarin, geranium, rose otto
7 MONTHS–1 YEAR
bergamot, calendula (infusion), carrot seed, cedarwood atlas/virginia, cinnamon bark (only in diffuser), cinnamon leaf, citronella, coriander, cypress, fir needle, grapefruit, helichrysum, lemon (avoid topical use on children under 2), mandarin, neroli, palma rosa, petitgrain, pine (pinus divaricata, pinus resinosa, pinus strobus, pinus sylvestris), ravensara, rosalina, rose otto, sandalwood, spruce, sweet orange, tangerine, tea tree
basil lemon, basil sweet, benzoin, black pepper, cassia (only safe for diffusion), clove bud/clove leaf, copaiba balsam, frankincense, garlic, ginger, hyssop, juniper berry, lemongrass (Andropogon citratus, Andropogon flexuosus, Cymbopogon citratus, Cymbopogon flexuosus), lime, melissa/lemon balm, myrrh, oregano (Origanum onites, Origanum smyrnaeum, Origanum vulgare, Origanum compactum, Origanum hirtum, Thymbra capitata, Thymus capitatus, Coridothymus capitatus, Satureeja capitata), sweet marjoram, patchouli, red carrot, spearmint, tea tree lemon, thyme, turmeric, verbena lemon, vetiver, valerian, ylang ylang (can be diffused for children under 2)
anise/aniseed, anise star, apricot, cajeput, camellia, cardamom, cornmint, fennel sweet and bitter, laurel leaf/bay laurel, marjoram spanish, myrtle, niaouli, nutmeg, peppermint, sage greek/white, sunflower
eucalyptus (Eucalyptus camaldulensis, Eucalyptus globulus, Eucalyptus maidenii, Eucalyptus plenissima, Eucalyptus kochii, Eucalyptus polybractea, Eucalyptus radiata, Eucalyptus autraliana, Eucalyptus phellandra, Eucalyptus smithii), rosemary
The Thieves essential oil blend is a wonderful anti-germ blend, but not very kids friendly and should not be used for kids under the age of 10 since it contains eucalyptus, rosemary, clove and cinnamon bark. You can use it in your home for cleaning but just make sure that you ventilate properly, that you clean without the kids in the room and that they do not come in contact with the blend.
HOW TO DILUTE:
Choose an appropriate carrier oil for your child, for example almond oil, jojoba oil or fractionated coconut oil.
These are the age-related recommended and maximum concentrations of essential oils for topical use*:
Recommended (%): 0
Maximum (%): 0
Up to 3 months
Recommended (%): 0.1
Maximum (%): 0.2
Recommended (%): 0.25
Maximum (%): 0.5
Recommended (%): 1.0
Maximum (%): 2.0
Recommended (%): 1.5
Maximum (%): 3.0
Recommended (%): 2.5
Maximum (%): 5.0
* These are recommendations from Essential Oils Safety. These concentrations are not research-based, and should be taken as helpful suggestions rather than absolute rules. The particular oils used and the health status of the individual are also important factors.
What does a 1% dilution look like?
1 drop of EO to 5 ml of carrier oil.
2 drops of EO to 10 ml of carrier oil
3 drops of EO to 15 ml of carrier oil
5 drops of EO to 30 ml (1 oz) of carrier oil
10 drops of EO to 60 ml (2 0z) of carrier oil
Tisserand, Robert - Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals 2nd Edition - 2014
Anthis, Christina - The Complete Book of Essential Oils for Mama and Baby: Safe and Natural Remedies for Pregnancy, Birth, and Children Paperback – 2017
Worwood, Valerie Ann - Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child: More Than 300 Natural, Nontoxic, and Fragrant Essential Oil Blends (More Than 300 Natural, Non-Toxic and Fragrant Essential Oil) - 2012