Using Essential Oils On and Around Infants and Children

Essential oils are gaining popularity. I love that people are looking for a natural way to live life. Unfortunately, sometimes we are given misinformation about the safety of essential oils. Since there is no real organization who decides what is safe for what age (and that may be a good thing) it is often times hard to know what oils you can use for members of your family. I am  here to help! Before I go any further let me tell you a bit about my background with essential oils. Many moons ago, about 7-8 years ago, I took an aromatherapy class. In this class I learned what oils to use during aromatherapy massage sessions. I did not learn about putting oils onto the skin, but I did learn about which oils to avoid for infants, pregnancy, and certain medical conditions. This was before essential oil use was wide spread. Above all else, safety was the first thing we were taught. I hope to pass on some of this information to you.

I have used essential oils for years. I have a vast collection of essential oils. I have used them on myself and now I use them on my children. I have a 17 month old and a 3 1/2 year old and I am nursing and pregnant. Those are a lot of safety hazards! Certain oils should never be used on children. This is what we are focusing on today, what oils are safe for children and what oils are not.

If you are EVER in doubt please do NOT use essential oils on your child. Please, please, please do your own research before using any essential oil, on yourself and others.

 Children have thin skin and are therefore more susceptible to topical use of essential oils. Because a newborns skin is so thin you should NEVER use essential oils on a baby under 3 months old. Once baby is 3 months old you can start diffusing and/or topically applying essential oils. For babies 3+ months you want to make sure the amount of essential oil does not exceed .2% of the recipe, generally 1-2 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil. Essential oils for babies 3+ months

  • Chamomile, Roman and German (Anthemis nobilis, Matricaria rectutita)
  • Dill (Anthum graveolens)
  • Lavender – (Lavendula angustifolia)
  • Yarrow, Blue (Achillea millefolium)

Essential oils for babies 6+ months (in addition to the list above) essential oils should not exceed .5% of the recipe, or 3-5 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil.

  • Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) bergamot essential oil is a phototoxic oil and can cause phototoxic reactions on your skin if used before going out in the sunshine. diffusion and wash-off products are safe.
  • Carrot Seed (Daucus carota)
  • Cedarwood, Atlas/Virgina (Cedrus atlantica, Cedrus deodora, Juniperus virginiana) use a smaller amount of this topically as it can cause skin irritation if not properly diluted.
  • Cinnamon bark (Cinnamomum verum) this is safe for diffusion ONLY. Cinnamon bark is not safe for use on anyone’s skin, as it is too irritating. Use Cinnamon leaf instead, for topical preparations!
  • Cinnamon leaf (Cinnamomum verum) use a smaller amount of this topically as it can cause skin irritation if not properly diluted.
  • Citronella (Cymbopogon nardus) use a smaller amount of this topically as it can cause skin irritation if not properly diluted.
  • Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
  • Cypress (Cupressus sempervires)
  • Fir needle (Abies sibirica)
  • Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)
  • Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi)
  • Helichrysum (Helichrysum angustifolium)
  • Lemon (Citrus limon) this is safe for diffusion. Though this is safe for topical application, sweet orange is suggested instead, because it’s less harsh on the skin. If cold pressed rather than steam distilled, this essential oil is a potential photosensitizer.
  • Mandarin (Citrus reticulata)
  • Neroli (Citrus aurantium)
  • Palma Rosa (Cymbopogon martinii)
  • Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium)
  • Pine (pinus divaricata, pinus resinosa, pinus strobus, pinus sylvestris) use a smaller amount of this topically as it can cause skin irritation if not properly diluted.
  • Ravensara (Ravensara aromatica)
  • Rosalina (Melaleuca ericifolia)
  • Rose Otto (Rosa damascena)
  • Sandalwood (Santalum spicatum)
  • Spruce (picea abies, picea glauca, picea mariana, picea rubens)
  • Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis)
  • Tangerine (Citrus reticulata)
  • Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)

Essential oils for children 2+ years (in addition to the above lists) essential oils should not exceed 2% of the recipe, or 20 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil.

  • Basil, Lemon (Ociumum x citriodorum)
  • Basil, Sweet (Ocimum basilicum)
  • Benzoin (Styrax benzoin, Styrax paralleloneurus)
  • Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) use a smaller amount of this topically as it can cause skin irritation if not properly diluted.
  • Cassia (Cinnamomum cassia) this is safe ONLY for diffusion. Cinnamon cassia is not safe for use on anyone’s skin, as it is too irritating. Use Cinnamon leaf instead, for topical preparations
  • Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)
  • Clove Bud/Clove Leaf (Syzygium aromaticum, Eugenia aromatica, Eugenia caryophyllata) use a smaller amount of this topically as it can cause skin irritation if not properly diluted.
  • Copaiba Basalm (Copaifera officinalis)
  • Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)
  • Garlic (Allium sativum) this is best for diffusion because it can cause skin irritations when applied topically.
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale) use a smaller amount of this topically as it can cause skin irritation if not properly diluted.
  • Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
  • Juniper Berry (Juniperus communis)
  • Lemongrass (Andropogon citratus, Andropogon flexuosus, Cymbopogon citratus, Cymbopogon flexuosus) use a smaller amount of this topically as it can cause skin irritation if not properly diluted.
  • Lime (Citrus x aurantifolia)
  • Melissa/Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
  • Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha)
  • Oregano (Origanum onites, Origanum smyrnaeum, Origanum vulgare, Origanum compactum, Origanum hirtum, Thymbra capitata, Thymus capitatus, Coridothymus capitatus, Satureeja capitata) 
  • Sweet Marjoram (Marjorana hortensis)
  • Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin)
  • Spearmint (Mentha cardiaca, Mentha spicata)
  • Tea Tree, Lemon (Leptospermum petersonii, Leptospermum citratum, Leptospermum liversidgei)
  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris, Thymus Zygis) use a smaller amount of this topically as it can cause skin irritation if not properly diluted.
  • Tumeric (Curcuma longa)
  • Verbena, Lemon (Aloysia triphylla, Aloysia citriodora, Lippa citriodora, Lippa triphylla)
  • Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanoides)
  • Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
  • Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) this can be diffused for children under 2 years

Essential oils for children 6+ years (in addition to the lists above) essential oils should not exceed 3% of the recipe, or 30 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil.

  • Anise/Aniseed (Pimpinella anisum) use a smaller amount of this topically as it can cause skin irritation if not properly diluted.
  • Anise, Star (Illicium verum) use a smaller amount of this topically as it can cause skin irritation if not properly diluted.
  • Cajeput (Melaleuca cajuputi, Melaleuca leucadendron)
  • Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) use a smaller amount of this topically as it can cause skin irritation if not properly diluted.
  • Cornmint (Mentha arvensis, Mentha canadensis)
  • Fennel, sweet and bitter (Foeniculum vulgare)
  • Laurel Leaf/Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis)
  • Marjoram, Spanish (Thymus mastichina)
  • Niaouli (cineole chemotype)
  • Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans) use a smaller amount of this topically as it can cause skin irritation if not properly diluted.
  • Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) use a smaller amount of this topically as it can cause skin irritation if not properly diluted.
  • Sage, Greek/White (Salvia officinalis, Salvia fruiticosa, Salvia tribola, Salvia apiana)

Essential oils for children 10+ years at this age most essential oils are safe.

2.5% dilution is 15 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil, 3% dilution is 20 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil, 5% dilution is 30 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil and 10% dilution is 60 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil.

  • Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus camaldulensis, Eucalyptus globulus, Eucalyptus maidenii, Eucalyptus plenissima, Eucalyptus kochii, Eucalyptus polybractea, Eucalyptus radiata, Eucalyptus autraliana, Eucalyptus phellandra, Eucalyptus smithii)
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Sources

http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6882/6/39
http://raisingnaturalkids.com/essential-oil-safety-for-kids/

http://www.learningabouteos.com/index.php/2014/02/07/essential-oils-and-children/

http://www.abundanthealth4u.com/Essential_Oils_Care_for_Babies_and_Children_s/40.htm

http://www.mommypotamus.com/safe-essential-oils-babies-children/
Biological activities of Lavender essential oil
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=21907890
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=10460442
Essential oils as a cause of breakthrough seizure after temporal lobectomy
Epileptic seizure induced by fennel essential oil.
Essential Oils and Aromatics: A Step-by-Step Guide for Use in Massage and Aromatherapy
Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals
Biological effects of essential oils – A review
Tiger Balm as a treatment of tension headache. A clinical trial in general practice.
Acute and subacute toxicity study of 1,8-cineole in mice
Antimicrobial activity of essential oils and other plant extracts
In Vitro Antibacterial Activity of Essential Oils against Streptococcus pyogenes
In vitro antibacterial activity of some plant essential oils
A near fatal case of high dose peppermint oil ingestion- Lessons learnt
National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy Data Safety Sheet for Essential Oils during pregnancy
International Association of Professional Aromatherapists Pregnancy Data Sheet (PDF)

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