As someone that focuses on essential oil safety above all else, I tend to talk about why specific oils or methods of use are not safe. Today I want to shift focus to what essential oils are safe and look at them in a bit of detail. Empowering and helping are two words that are very important to me and my business…because if I do not support you to feel empowered to help your family, your children, and yourself..then what have I done? Fear is not where it’s at, so let us begin!
I am not an advocate of “never” use essential oils under the age of two, but I do recommend caution on using oils on the skin of our littlest blessings in the home. It is also important to acknowledge that other methods could be useful before automatically reaching for your oils.
When my boys were still little babies, I often used herbs before essential oils. Many times I was successful with herbal remedies and saved the oils for myself. Aviva Romm was a go-to for information a decade ago, as was Rosemary Gladstar. If you are interested in learning more about herbs for small children, I will list some resources at the end of this article for further study.
Elder Flowers Sambucus nigra, is great for overall immune boosting as well as to use in a weakened tea when there is a fever present.
Chamomile Matricaria recutita tea weakened down and given in very small doses is very effective for settling gassy tummies.
Linden Flowers Tilia europaea L. is soothing for a child who feels generally unwell and dehydration is a concern.
Calendula Calendula officinalis is a wonder herb for dry, irritated, rashy skin, including bums.
Of course, as with any remedy, natural or otherwise…every parent must do their due diligence and research.research,research. Herbs are a fantastic modality for even the littlest in the home.
With the exception of maybe Peppermint Mentha piperita, hydrosols are a perfect choice for babies and small children. They are much gentler than essential oils, can often times be used undiluted, and come without the many cautions and contraindications that many essential oils do. Gentle, effective and safe.
By far, the two books that I recommend for hydrosol use for babies and children (and adults) are Hydrosols, The Next Aromatherapy by Suzanne Catty, and Harvest to Hydrosol by Ann Harman (see below).
Great First Essential Oils
Back to essential oils, there are quite a few that are perfectly safe for babies and small children. We always want to keep in mind that less is more, very low dilutions are always a good idea to start with. Oftentimes you will find that you need very little to be effective. I recommend using Plant Therapy’s dilution chart, found here.
I tend to recommend to my clients to avoid essential oils topically less than one year of age if it can be helped but definitely avoid for the first few months of life. I would consider their skin to be oversensitive; their skin is still very delicate.
Short periods of diffusion is likely your best bet under one year of age (10-20 minutes is a safe amount of time), and if topical use is necessary, remember to use the smallest amount possible, or reach for your hydrosols first. In addition, when diffusing make sure baby is in a well-ventilated room.
*For more information on safe diffusing and why, refer to Robert Tisserand’s Essential Oil Safety 2e.
Here are a few of the oils that I recommend as first use oils:
Chamomile Roman Anthemis nobilis
Go stand in the middle of an apple orchard and close your eyes, take a big deep cleansing breath. You are smelling Roman Chamomile. R. Chamomile is very high in esters, therefore it is a very calming essential oil. It is also very soothing to irritated skin of all varieties and is a great tummy soother.
Lavender Lavandula angustifolia
The aroma of Lavender is fresh and sweet, floral and slightly herbaceous. Lavender is superior for supporting mental wellness, promoting a good night sleep, supporting a healthy stress response, and is great to soothe sun-kissed or irritated skin.
*Special note: Lavender is a favorite of many and used often, therefore, we should pay attention to how much we are using it (As we really should with any oil we use). Less is more.
Lemon Citrus limon
Lemon smells amazzzing! Super sweet, fresh, and fruity. Due to the phototoxic risk of this essential oil, I recommend diffusing only unless you are very well-versed in how to use oils topically that are phototoxic.
Diffusing lemon essential oil is a great support for a healthy immune system. It can also be utilized in school-aged children as a pick them up to get them started in the morning, or just to alleviate “Grumpy Gus” syndrome.
Mandarin Red Citrus nobilis
This is hands down one of my favorite citrus essential oils. Citrusy and tangy, super sweet and fresh. I would diffuse this oil when my oldest (probably 3 at the time) was going through a “Mom don’t you dare leave this room” phase. I would sit and rock him and Mandarin would have him resting in no time, but is great for all ages.
Mandarin Red is a superior, mood-lifter, and promotes all the happy go lucky feelings of being a kid. It is a great addition to a diffuser blend when under the weather, supporting a quicker recovery by providing comfort. Helps to calm thoughts so sleep can come. This essential oil is not phototoxic.
Rosalina Melaleuca ericifolia
Rosalina is herbaceous, medicinal, robust, warm, and slightly spicy.
There are even times when our little ones need assistance to push their bodies toward homeostasis. They need support. It is important to note that essential oils are not a cure, but there are times where essential oils are called on to give the immune system a little extra oompf. Rosalina can be used here.
A powerhouse for supporting a healthy respiratory system, Rosalina is a great oil for kids, has calming properties like Lavender as well as is soothing to skin bites and various irritations like tea tree. A very well-rounded essential oil, and a must-have for your wellness kit.
*Special note: If you are utilizing Rosalina between the ages of three months to one year to support a healthy respiratory system, I recommend light diffusing only. Save must-have topical use for Chamomile Roman, Lavender and Mandarin Red.
These are the first few essential oils that I do not hesitate to recommend for use (not all-inclusive). I always analyze benefit vs risk in all things. Always start with the least invasive, at the smallest dose. When we respect them and their methods of use, many essential oils are perfectly safe for even our youngest in the home.
Let me know if you have any questions, you can direct them to Lifeholistically@gmail.com. I am happy to assist, always.
Stay tuned for more information on essential oils and kids coming soon!
Petersen, D. (1986-2014) American College of Healthcare Sciences. Aromatherapy Materia Medica Essential Oil Monographs
Like so many practices in life I encourage you to become educated on the proper use of essential oils. When using them, please do so cautiously, understanding that there is often misinformation on the internet. You can be assured that I support only educated and proven resources. While essential oils should not be feared they should be respected and used properly to ensure the safety of the individuals using them.
Please note that I am not a medical practitioner. The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. By using this website, you assume full responsibility and liability for your own actions.