As you all know, I am a proud mama of two little boys. They are my world! From the morning when I rise to the night when I close my eyes (and all those times in-between), I am caring for them.
Like most parents, I would never dream of doing anything to hurt them. That is why essential oil safety is SO important for me. I am constantly checking the new research, reading text books, and evaluating my personal essential oil use.
I believe that essential oils are wonderful gifts that can help in many situations. Because I believe that essential oils can help, I also believe that they can harm. Especially in the case of children.
I will admit that I haven’t always used essential oils in a safe manner. I am guilty of using some contraindicated oils while I was pregnant with my first son and at various other times. However, I have learned so much from these experiences.
They have pushed me to advocate for safe essential oil use and have made me go the extra mile in my own research. I have learned about many different essential oil retailers and wholesalers in this process. Unfortunately, not all companies share the same information and not all companies share safe information.
In my training as an aromatherapist, I learned to rely on clinical research regarding essential oils, along with good judgment and my own essential oil experience. I’m a big proponent of Tisserand and Young’s Essential Oil Safety (2nd ed.) and reference it whenever I give advice on essential oil safety. If you are interested in learning more about essential oils, their chemistry, and their safety, it’s a must-read!
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Essential Oil guidelines for young children
With that being said, here are a few key points to note when using essential oils with young children:
- Dilute, dilute, dilute!
- it is recommended to dilute oils between .5% – 1% for young children.
- 1% dilution is 5-6 drops of essential oil per one ounce of carrier oil
- 5% dilution is 2-3 drops of essential oil per one ounce of carrier oil
- Make sure your oil is safe
- there are many essential oils that aren’t for use at all with children under the ages of 2
- research oils before the first use making sure they are safe for young children
- Not all “safe” oils are safe for your child
- Essential oils affect every person differently
- Do a “patch test” to see if your child has a reaction (see this post for more guidelines on patch tests)
- Avoid oils with 1,8 cineole
- oils rich in 1,8 cineole often have a “menthol-like” aroma
- These oils have been known to cause breathing and respiratory problems in children under 5
- Some examples include: Rosemary, Cardamom, Peppermint, and Eucalyptus.
- Diffuse for short periods of time
- Diffusion is great for kids!
- 10-15 minutes is sufficient
- Better safe than sorry
- When in doubt, avoid or discontinue use
- Find a substitute oil- many oils have similar therapeutic properties
So how do I use oils with my children:
My oldest is three and my youngest is nine months. That means I follow the guidelines above. I use few oils, for limited periods of time. I watch for reactions that could indicate sensitization and I discontinue use if the oils appear to bother either child.
I limit use of essential oils when my babies are younger than three months as well. I choose to use hydrosols instead. Lavender and Helichrysum are two of my favorite hydrosols to use at this age. I’m currently working on a post about hydrosols, so I’ll link it here with an explanation soon!!
Some of the oils I limit my usage to are: Lavender, Sweet Orange, and Roman Chamomile. I’ve also been checking out Plant Therapy’s Kidsafe essential oil blends and I’ll be putting them to the test shortly.
Here are the oils I avoid:
If you’d like to learn more about essential oil safety, check out these posts from Essential Oils 101:
- Essential Oil Safety
- How to Diffuse Essential Oils
- Essential Oil Uses
- Using Essential Oils During Pregnancy