Essential Oils and Children

Children 500

Essential Oils and Children

When using essential oils around little ones you need to be very careful.  There are some oils which shouldn't be used around children at all and all of them need to be used with care.

* We suggest no essential oils on or around babies before the age of 6 months.
* From ages 6 months – age 2, you may diffuse child safe oils for a specific purpose and short periods of time.
* After the age of 2 you may start topical use with a very low dilution.
* Often a better and safer choice for children are hydrosols. More info here.  www.UsingEOsSafely.com/Hydrosols
* When diffusing or using oils topically it is VERY important to be sure that you are using only child safe oils.
*  It's best to avoid oils which contain 1,8-cineole, menthol and Methyl salicylate, which are oils such as peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus, wintergreen, birch and more.
* To learn more about the proper way to diffuse, please go here:  Diffusing Guidelines
* To learn more about how to dilute, please go here: Diluting Essential Oils Safely

In most every case it is simply best to not use essential oils on little ones due to their thinner skin and immature systems. {Please NO oils on or around newborns!!} For an acute case (something very specific), you may choose to use essential oils, but if you diffuse it should be for very short periods of time, and if you choose to use topically, be sure to use a very low dilution of 0.25%-0.5%.  Safer options are things such as herbs* and hydrosols. If you do choose to use topically for something acute this should be the exception and not the norm.

We often get asked how others in the family can safely continue using oils when there is a baby in the home.  A personal inhaler is a great option because then the individual can take advantage of essential oils without worrying about affecting the little ones in the house.  If you choose to diffuse, please be sure to do it in a room away from baby and allow time for the scent to dissipate before bringing baby back in the room.  If another family member has a particular reason where they need to use an essential oil topically, then please find a time when they can stay away from the baby for a while so the scent can dissipate.

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Using Essential Oils for Kids: What is safe?

What Essential Oils to Avoid Using On or Around My Children?

Please do take the time to read the details for each of these oils in the meme in the text info below.  Please pay close attention to the Latin names or types listed in this list.  Many oils have different types and some are safe and some are not, and you can easily tell which is which by comparing the Latin name or type. Also please note that if it says “all routes” that means no topical use or diffusing.
Essential oils to avoid
Here is a list of essential oils with warnings against using on or around children according to The Book, Essential Oil Safety.
The following lists of unsafe and safe oil for children are not all-inclusive as there are 100s of different essential oils. 

  • Anise/Aniseed Pimpinella anisum – avoid using (all routes) on children under 5
  • Anise (Star) Illicium verum – avoid using (all routes) on children under 5
  • Basil (lemon) Ocimum x citriodorum – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Benzoin Styrax benzoin, Styrax paralleloneurus and Styrax tonkinensis – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Birch (sweet) Betula lenta – avoid using (all routes) on children
  • Black Seed Nigella sativa – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • *Cajuput Melaleuca cajuputi, Melaleuca leucadendron – avoid using on children under 6
  • *Cardamon Elettaria cardamomum – avoid using (all routes) on children under 6
  • Cassia Cinnamomum cassia, Cinnamomum aromaticum – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Chaste Tree Vitex agnus castus – avoid using (all routes) on prepubertal children
  • Clove Bud, Clove Leaf, Clove Stem Syzygium aromaticum, Eugenia caryophyllata, Eugenia aromatica – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • *Cornmint Mentha arvensis, Mentha canadensis – avoid using (all routes) on children under 6
  • *Eucalyptus Eucalyptus camaldulensis, Eucalyptus globulus, Eucalyptus maidenii, Eucalyptus plenissima, Eucalyptus kochii, Eucalyptus polybractea, Eucalyptus radiata, Eucalyptus Autraliana,Eucalyptus phellandra, Eucalyptus smithii – avoid using (all routes) on children under 10
  • Fennel (bitter), Fennel (sweet) Foeniculum vulgare – avoid using (all routes) on children under 5
  • *Galangal (lesser) Alpinia officinarum, Languas officinarum – avoid using (all routes) on children under 6
  • Garlic Allium sativum – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Ginger Lily Hedychium coronarium – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • *Ho Leaf/Ravintsara Cinnamomum camphora (cineole chemotype)  – avoid using on children under 6
  • Hyssop Hyssopus officinalis (pinocamphone chemptype) – avoid using (all routes) on children under 2
  • *Laurel Leaf/Bay Laurel Laurus nobilis– avoid topical use on children under 2; avoid all routes for children under age 6
  • Lemon Leaf/Lemon Petitgrain Citrus x limon, Citrus limonum – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Lemongrass Cymbopogon flexuosus, Andropogon flexuosus, Cymbopogon citratus, Andropogon citratus – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • *Marjoram (Spanish) Thymus mastichina – avoid using (all routes) on children under 6
  • Massoia Cryptocarya massoy, Cryptocaria massoia, Massoia aromatica – avoid using (all routes) on children under 2
  • May Chang Litsea cubeba, Litsea citrata, Laura cubeba – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Melissa/Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • *Myrtle (red) Myrtus communis – avoid using (all routes) on children under 6
  • Myrtle (aniseed) Backhousia anisata – avoid using (all routes) on children under 5
  • Myrtle (honey) Melaleuca teretifolia – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Myrtle (lemon)/Sweet Verbena Backhousia citriodora – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • *Niaouli (cineole chemotype) Melaleuca quinquinervia – avoid using (all routes) on children under 6
  • Oakmoss Evernia prunastri – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Opopanax Commiphora guidottii – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Oregano Origanum onites, Origanum smyrnaeum, Origanum vulgare, Origanum compactum, Origanum hirtum, Thymbra capitata, Thymus capitatus, Coridothymus capitatus, Satureeja capitata– avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Peppermint Mentha x Piperita – avoid using (all routes) on children under 6
  • Peru Balsam Myroxylon balsamum, Myroxylon pereiraw, Myroxylon peruiferum, Myrospermum pereirae, Toluifera pereirae – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • *Rambiazana  Helichrysum gymnocephalum – avoid using (all routes) on children under 6
  • *Rosemary (1,8-cineole chemotype) Rosmarinus officinalis  – avoid using (all routes) on children under 10
  • Saffron Crocus sativus – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • *Sage (Greek), Salvia fruiticosa, Salvia triloba Sage (White) – avoid using (all routes) on children under 6
  • *Sage (White) Salvia apiana – avoid using (all routes) on children under 6
  • Sage (Wild Mountain) Hemizygia petiolata – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • *Sanna Hedychium spicatum – avoid using (all routes) on children under 6
  • *Saro Cinnamosma fragrans – avoid using (all routes) on children under 6
  • Savory Satureia hortensis, Satureia montana – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Styrax Liquidambar orientalis, Liquidambar styraciflua – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Tea Leaf/Black Tea Camellia sinensis, Thea sinensis – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Tea Tree (lemon-scented) Leptospermum petersonii, Leptospermum citratum, Leptospermum liversidgei,– avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Treemoss Pseudevernia furfuracea – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Tuberose Polianthes tuberosa – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Turpentine Pinus ayacahuite, Pinus caribaea, Pinus contorta, Pinus elliottii, Pinus halepensis, Pinus insularis, Pinus kesiya, Pinus merkusii, Pinus palustris, Pinus pinaster, Pinus radiata, Pinus roxburghii, Pinus tabulaeformis, Pinus teocote, Pinus yunnanensis– avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Verbena (Lemon) Aloysia triphylla, Aloysia citriodora, Lippa citriodora, Lippa triphylla – avoid topical use on children under 2
  • Wintergreen Gaultheria fragrantissima, Gaultheria procumbens – avoid (all routes) on children due to methyl salicylate content
  • Ylang-Ylang Cananga odorata – avoid topical use on children under 2

* indicates essential oils that are high in 1,8-cineole and can potentially cause respiration to slow in children. If you are looking for age-appropriate anti-congestion suggestions, read this post: Family Friendly Anti-Congest Blends

What Essential Oils Can I Use On or Around My Children?

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Here is a list of safe oils to use around children.

  • Bergamot
  • Black Pepper
  • Blue Tansy
  • Cedarwood
  • Clary Sage
  • Copaiba
  • Coriander
  • Cypress
  • Frankincense
  • German Chamomile
  • Geranium
  • Ginger
  • Grapefruit
  • Juniper Berry
  • Helichrysum
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Mandarin
  • Marjoram (Sweet)
  • Neroli
  • Palmarosa
  • Patchouli
  • Petitgrain
  • Pines -except Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa), or Huon Pine (Dacrydium franklinii)
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Sandalwood
  • Siberian Fir Needle
  • Spearmint
  • Spruces
  • Sweet Marjoram
  • Sweet Orange
  • Tangerine
  • Tea Tree
  • Vetiver

For more info please click through the following links. 

** Why No Thieves and other similar blends?
This includes many blends such as Thieves, OnGuard, Breathe, RC and more.
For more about the safety of pre-made blends, please see our Blends Safety page.
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** Everything you wanted to know about Hydrosols
Everything you wanted to know about hydrosols

Using Essential OIls for Baby Wipes and Diaper Rash

** SAFELY USING ESSENTIAL OILS FOR CHILDREN Written by Lea:

Safely Using Essential Oils for Children

** Safe Essential Oils For Babies And Children from Mommypotamus

Safe Essential Oils For Babies And Children

** More about 1,8-cineole here from our Using Essential Oils Safely Facebook Group

* To learn more about herbs you can join our “sister” Facebook group here.  Learning About Using Herbs Safely

 

Lea Harris is a Certified Clinical Aromatherapist Scholar's Program graduate from Aromahead Institute. This website, and its sister website, LearningAboutEOs, is home to educational advice and information about using essential oils safely. Lea founded and runs the Using Essential Oils Safely facebook group, with hundreds of new members joining each week. Lea is the author of The TRUTH About Essential Oil Safety, and the creator of Safe Essential Oil Labels and the UEOS App. You can find FREE classes here: Free Essential Oil Classes.

Lea received her herbalist certification through The Herbal Academy of New England. Lea is a contributing writer for Natural Herbal Living magazine, and blogs about herbs and natural living on her website, Nourishing Treasures.

Lea is Professional level member of the Alliance of International Aromatherapists.

Businesses, groups, and individuals can hire Lea to consult on safety, product formulation, and more on her website Lea Harris CCA.

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