Children & Essential Oils…

When I think about Valentine’s Day, I don’t automatically think of romance… I tend to think about my children, writing out their Valentine cards, & bags of Sweet Tarts… and of course, essential oils. 

Essential oils are the results of the steam distillation or in some cases, the cold expression of plant material.  Simply put, it’s what’s left after the process; small amounts of highly concentrated therapeutic goodness.  And because essential oils are so concentrated, they should:

  • always be diluted before applying topically especially on your child’s skin.
  • never be ingested.

Essential oils have different properties, different chem types, and different contraindications. There are some essential oils that you need to avoid  & some that need to be used with caution especially when making essential oil blends for children. The systems in a child’s body are not fully developed and “some of the components found in some essential oils can be too much for young systems to handle and process”.

Here are some ideas when using Essential Oils and Hydrosols with Babies and Children: 

  • For topical use, always use at a low dilution .25% – 1% depending on the age  & the health of the child; it is best to use one essential oil at a time so you can watch out for skin irritation and possible allergies.
  • If you want to add essential oils to a child’s bath, dilute them first in a carrier oil then add them to the bathwater. Otherwise, the undiluted essential oils will just float on top of the bathwater, which may irritate their sensitive skin and mucous membranes. (If your child has sensitive skin add some Lavender Hydrosol to the bath water instead.)
  • Children are sensitive to scent, so when diffusing essential oils less is definitely better. Start with 1 -5 drops depending on the age and health of the child and diffuse only when needed  (for congestion or sleep issues. And only for approx       15 – 30 minutes).

*Citrus oils are wonderful and calming to diffuse but topically, some citrus oils are photosensitive to varying degrees, so don’t apply them to your child’s skin if you are going out into the sun as this may cause a bad sunburn and/or possible blistering. Reactions vary and may occur up to 2 days after sun exposure. So use caution and common sense.

Always dilute before topical use.

canstockphoto1904225For Babies 2 months up to 6 months: 

Add Lavender or Roman Chamomile Hydrosol to the bath water. Diluted, these hydrosols can also be used to soothe any diaper rashes or skin irritation.

For Babies 6 months to 1 year: 

Diffuse 2-3 drops of Lavender, Mandarin, Palmarosa & *Tangerine essential oil during the cold season.

Children 2 years to 5 years:

You can use  Geranium &  small amounts of Ginger. You can dilute  3 – 5  drops of essential oil in 45 ml of carrier oil, but I prefer to use my diffuser. (Depending on the age of the child, add 3 – 4 drops of essential oils to your ultrasonic diffuser at bedtime or during the cold season.

Children 6 years to 8 years:

For this age, you can dilute  4 – 6 drops of essential oil in 30 ml of carrier oil. Robert Tisserand says “You can add  .05 % of Peppermint and Eucalyptus Radiata, to a blend”. (See below)
Add up to 3 – 4 drops of essential oils to your diffuser at bedtime or during the cold season.

Children 9 years to 12 years:

At this age, you can dilute 6 -8 drops of essential oil in 30 ml of carrier oil.
Add  up to 4 – 6 drops of essential oils to your diffuser at bedtime or during cold season

Children Age 13  & Over:

Can use adult dosages of essential oils. (2 % dilution for everyday use,  3 % dilution for short term use for colds, congestion or pain, depending on the health of the child)

There is new information regarding topical use & diffusing Eucalyptus & Peppermint Essential Oil with Children:

robert tisserand kids euc pep

I tend to err on the side of caution so I wouldn’t apply these oils topically, like under the nose or on the chest of children under the age of  5.

For children, ages 2 & up, oils that I prefer to use for inhalation or diffusion are White Pine (Pinus strobus)  or Wild Black Spruce (Picea mariana). They are safe to use and are a lighter scent. Most children don’t like strong smells anyway.

For a place to start, I like the books of Salvatore Battaglia, Robert Tisserand, Valerie Ann Worwood or online Beverley Hawkins at WCIA. You can also check my page Essential Oil Safety on this website.

My Blog is for information only & is not meant to diagnose or replace medical advice. Essential Oils are not for ingestion & should always be diluted before topical use.

***If you are using a candle diffuser, never leave it unattended


  • Battaglia Salvatore. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. 2nd edition,  The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy, Australia, 2003
  • Caddy, Rosemary, Aromatherapy, The Essential Blending Guide, Amberwood Publishing, Rochester England, 3rd edition 2007
  • Catty, Suzanne, Hydrosols, The Next Aromatherapy, Healing Arts Press, a division of Inner Trade International, 2001.
  • Davis, Patricia.  Aromatherapy an A-Z. New revised edition, Vermilion,  an imprint  of   Edbury Publishing, a Random House Company, 2005
  • Tisserand, Robert, & Rodney Young,  Essential Oil Safety, 2nd Edition, Churchill Livingstone, 2014
  • Worwood, Valerie Ann, Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child, First New World Library Printing, 2000

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