Are Essential Oils Safe For Kids And Babies?

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Essential oils are considered to be essential workers in the naturopathic world. There’s plenty to be said for the benefits of essential oils for babies and kids but you need to know which ones are best and how to dilute them. Typically used in aromatherapy, they can help reduce stress, alleviate headaches, improve sleep, and more. It’s amazing how so much goodness can come from a little plant when you harness it properly.

There are plenty of essential oil options for you to choose from based on your own personal preferences. Peppermint, lavender, orange, eucalyptus, rosemary, tea tree … the possibilities are endless! And heavenly. If you haven’t already gotten on the bandwagon, now’s the time. There are so many scents to choose from that you’re sure to find one for you. You can even start out in small doses to see how you like it and how your body reacts to it before going all in. Nevertheless, even though essential oils are widely used now, some are still concerned about side effects.

Are essential oils safe to use for kids and babies? Should they be avoided? Keep on reading to find out as we explore the ins and outs of essential oils for babies and kids.

Essential Oils For Babies: Essential Oils Safe For Babies

Close up of baby feet.

Newborn baby feet.

When considering whether or not essential oils are safe for babies, the first thing to note is that the overall consensus is to not use them on babies under three months of age. This is per the recommendation of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, since babies have especially sensitive skin. However, at above three months, you can certainly consider the use of essential oils for babies. The benefits for babies include helping with sleep, calmness, and even symptoms of colic. Just make sure that you are not using essential oils that are premixed with alcohol, as this can be irritating on the skin. Also, make sure that your baby does not ingest the essential oil (this can be dangerous even for adults!) and that it does not come into contact with their eyes.

Using essential oils of proper concentrations on babies as part of a massage can help pre-term babies gain weight, assist with development, lower irritability, and help improve sleep. In order to massage properly, start by rubbing the diluted essential oil in your hands in order to warm it a bit. Then just apply a bit of pressure while you massage and you and your baby will start noticing the benefits.

Your baby can also enjoy essential oils during bath time. Simply add a few drops to the water, and this will help your baby relax. Yet while some people like to do this, I’m personally not a fan. It seems to leave too much room for error with baby potentially swallowing some drops of water or splashing it into their eyes.

Lastly, you can use essential oils in a diffuser when it’s time to put your baby to bed. Make sure to only use essential oils that are safe for babies, and keep the room well-ventilated.

Diffusing Essential Oils For Babies Explained

Hand touching white essential oil diffuser.

Diffuser in use.

Although the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians has released recommendations for essential oils and babies, other bodies have not. For instance, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians haven’t issued any guidelines on essential oil use for babies or kids because the safety of essential oils for kids is still unclear. This is why, as we mentioned, you should always talk to your child’s doctor before deciding to incorporate essential oils into your routine.

Some say to even wait until a baby is 6 months old before using essential oils in a diffuser. Yet the belief is that diffusing essential oils is overall safer than using them directly on your baby’s skin. There are specific essential oils that are safer and gentler for use with babies. But no matter which oils you use, make sure to monitor your baby during the diffusing process to check that they have no adverse reactions.

When using essential oils in a diffuser for kids up to one year old, start off by diluting 8 drops of carrier oil with 1 drop of essential oil. If your baby reacts well to this combo, you can try doing a 7:1 ratio for the next time.

Essential Oils For Kids: Kid Safe Essential Oils

orange drink

Orange essential oil is safe for kids.

Keep in mind that one drop of essential oil equals about 15-40 cups of tea. This stuff is powerful! This is why there’s even the question in the first place of whether or not essential oils for kids are safe.

As long as your doctor approves it, there are ways to use essential oils safely with kids. The essential oils should be diluted, more so when using with kids than with adults. Introduce new oils gradually. You might even want to start wearing the fragrances on your clothes first so that your kids can get used to the scents. Some common essential oils to use for kids are black pepper, cedarwood, geranium, juniper berry, and sweet orange.

That being said, there are some essential oils that are categorically not safe for kids. For example, peppermint essential oil contains high levels of menthol, and this can lead to breathing issues for kids. Certain types of eucalyptus and rosemary essential oils are also unsuitable for kids. Kids should also stay away from birch (sweet), chaste tree, black seed, hyssop, and saffron essential oils, amongst others.

One of the common uses of essential oils is essential oils for kids cough. Oils such as jojoba oil and grapeseed oil can be used in a variety of different ways, such as with diffusion or a roll-on item. We’ll get to more about diffusers below. But a roll-on item can be applied to the back of the child’s neck, the chest, and the bottoms of their feet. You can make one of these products by yourself or buy it made. Once diluted, you can apply certain oils to a child’s skin starting at age 3.

Kids Essential Oil Diffuser Explained  

When used properly, diffusers are one of the safest ways to use essential oils with kids. This is because, in addition to diluting the essential oil in the diffuser, it also gets diluted as it is released into the entire room. When using it for kids, you’ll need to consider the type of diffuser that you’re using, the amount of time that you’re using it for, and which essential oils you’re using.

Diffusers such as clay discs, fan diffusers, and oil lamps work by having the oils evaporate in the air. They release very low dosages of essential oils. Using ultrasonics or nebulizer is where the safety question is more relevant. But overall, it is safe to use essential oil diffusers with kids as long as you do so smartly. For kids aged 3 months and above, use 1-3 drops of oil for every 200ml of water. Use the diffuser for about a half-hour at a time, and keep the essential oils out of the reach of your kids.

Gentle Baby Essential Oil Examples

Chamomile flowers in vase.

Chamomile essential oil is a gentle oil for babies.

There are a bunch of essential oils out there, so how do you know which one to choose for your child and their individual needs? Here are some for you to try.

Chamomile

Chamomile is a gentle essential oil that can help get your baby to sleep. It naturally soothes, which is why it’s good at treating insomnia. Mixed with lavender, it can also help treat colic in babies. And if your baby is just fussy for no apparent reason, this combo can help with that as well.

Dill

The pros of dill essential oil are that it’s calming and antispasmodic. It can help relieve symptoms of indigestion in your baby. Note that you must dilute it properly before massaging your baby with it.

Eucalyptus Radiata

You can ask your child’s pediatrician about using Eucalyptus radiata to relieve respiratory symptoms in your baby. It’s a natural expectorant which can help with congestion, which is especially handy in the wintertime.

Lavender

We mentioned above that lavender can be used with chamomile in order to relieve symptoms of colic. Yet it can also be used by itself to encourage calmness, relaxation, and sleep. Furthermore, you can apply it to bug bites to help minimize itchiness.

Conclusion

Should you be using essential oils on your babies and kids? Essentially, it all boils down to safety. When done the right way (read: with the right concentrations, the right oils, and the proper timing), essential oils can really help children with a whole bunch of different issues. From calming them down, to lulling them to sleep, to even treating physical issues like colic and bug bites, essential oils are at your service.

So as long as your doctor says it’s A-okay, feel free to use essential oils with your little kiddos who are over the age of 3 months. This is also important to keep in mind if you too like using essential oils for yourself and you have kids around. The next time you want to sit back and unwind with some aromatherapy, just dilute the essential oils a bit more than you typically would, and make it a family activity! 

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