Essential Oils for Babies + Young Kids

How to Use Essential Oils Safely on or around Babies + Young Kids

The benefits of essential oils are as many and as diverse as the plants they come from. They can be calming, energizing, disinfecting. They can help ease some of the discomforts associated with headaches, tummy aches, and viruses. They are versatile and can be used aromatically or topically or mixed in to create a new product. They are natural, and they are potent so they are effective and one bottle can cover a lot of uses.

Despite all the benefits, there are some precautions to take to avoid the potential harms, especially when using essential oils on or around young kids. Below are some things to keep in mind and ways to use essential oils with a baby or young child in the house.

Note: I am not a salesperson for essential oils or any other product for that matter, and I am not a medical or essential oil professional. Essential oils are often used for health and medical concerns, which should always be shared with your doctor or medical professional. Affiliate links are included to some of our favorite products, most of which we currently buy on Amazon.* (See full note below.)

10 Ideas for Using Essential Oils in the Nursery

Essential oils are great, but before jumping in and getting careless, especially with young kids, here are a few things to keep in mind and ideas for using them cautiously.

1. Essential oils are potent; check before use.

Essential oils come in a tiny bottle for a reason: They're potent and a little goes a long way. This is an important understanding for using essential oils safely. It doesn't matter if they're "natural." There are plenty of things in nature that should be avoided or used in moderation. The same is true for various oils. Remembering their potency can help prevent serious repercussions from misuse or overuse.

It might sound like a bit of a pain, but checking each oil before use is important. Some oils shouldn't be used on skin exposed to the sun, some can cause breathing problems especially in young kids or in people with asthma. Do your research before using a new oil (in a reputable/professional source, not a random post from Pinterest). And ditto for blends... know the individual oils in the blends so you know how to use them safely or if they should be avoided on your kids. This might mean you slowly ease in to using essential oils, researching one or two at a time before starting to use. That's a great way to get into it.

2. Refer to the pros.

Bloggers (myself included), salespeople, etc. are different than medical professionals or even aromatherapists or herb specialists. Always consider who your information is coming from as you decide if you'll follow it. It's fine to get ideas and recommendations from a friend or essential oil salesperson or blogger; but don't take that (this blog post included) as sound medical advice, and double check with another source if something doesn't sound right.

I like checking the website Using Essential Oils Safely, and there's a corresponding Facebook group, too. Lea Harris is a certified clinical aromatherapist who errs on the uber safe side, which I like. Her info goes along with the extensive information in Essential Oil Safety by Robert Tisserand, except she uses terms I can understand. She also recommends The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook for Everyday Wellness. A local certified aromatherapist suggested Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art. Those are all good sources to check out when looking at using essential oils safely.

3. Dilute to avoid sensitization.

Dilution of essential oils is so important and especially when using on or around babies' and young kids' smaller and more sensitive bodies and skin. You can find dilution ratios in professional resources. And some oils need more dilution than others or should simply be avoided on kids.

We often use coconut oil or sweet almond oil to dilute an essential oil before applying it topically to the kids' skin. We use witch hazel and water in a spray bottle to dilute an oil that will be sprayed on or around the kids (i.e., bug spray or disinfecting spray). Water and oils do not mix, so this mixture has be shaken before and during use. We use an essential oil in honey to help it disperse if we're adding to bath water or use pre-scented epsom bath products. And we use a diffuser to spread kid-approved oils throughout a room.

4. Don't ingest essential oils.

Essential oils should only ever be ingested through the guidance of a trained professional. They know how to do it safely and which oils to avoid. If not done right, essential oils have the potential of burning your esophagus or other permanent damage. We don't put oils in our drinking water (remember, water and oils don't mix), and we definitely don't give them to our kids to swallow.

5. Decide when and what to avoid on your kids.

Most sources agree that oils should be avoided altogether on babies, especially infants up to 6-months-old and even up to 2-years-old. Some stronger/hot oils could be avoided until they're older/bigger, even up to 12-years-old to stay on the safe side. Do your research and decide for yourself. We've only used some of the milder oils (i.e., lavender or sweet orange) extra diluted sparingly when the kids are younger.

We also avoid most "hot" oils while the kids are young. Imagine things like the thieves blend, clove, and other spice plants. They can be too strong for kids. Do your research and decide for yourself. Sweet orange is a milder oil that can be used in disinfecting sprays or diffused when kids are sick. And peppermint can be a thieves alternative for older kids, but we still avoid it on our baby/toddler.

6. Add a drop to a stuffed animal.

The kids love when I add a drop of lavender to their stuffed animals' necks and toss in the dryer for a couple minutes before bed. We only do this with oils that are safe for them to inhale. It's an easy way to "diffuse" without having to plug a diffuser in each of their rooms.

7. Make an essential oil spray.

As mentioned above under "dilution," you could mix together a couple different sprays with essential oils that are safe for kids. We combine equal parts water and witch hazel to small cobalt glass spray bottles. Then we add a few drops essential oils (check with a dilution chart). A sweet orange or tea tree spray could be used to disinfect and de-scent the diaper trash after it's been taken out, or even used for hands in place of antibacterial hand-gel. A lavender spray could be used on diaper rashes (lavender and witch hazel are healing and calming for skin irritations) or sprayed on bedding before bed. A tea tree / lavender mixture (check other bug repelling essential oils that are safe on kids) could be used as a homemade bug spray.

Just remember, oils and water don't mix. So sprays need to be shaken during use.

8. Mix oils in a jar.

When my husband and I use essential oils on ourselves, we often add a carrier oil (like coconut or sweet almond) to the palm of our hand, add a drop or two of essential oils, then rub and apply to where we need it on our skin. In order to use more accurate dilution ratios on our kids, it can be handy to pre-mix oils they use often. In a small jar, I'll add coconut oil (which I prefer for this, since it solidifies between uses) and the appropriate number of drops of essential oils. I especially do this with peppermint essential oil during the germy winter months to easily add to the older kids' chest or throat. A lavender mixture is handy for skin irritations or to rub on their legs when they get growing pains or feel restless before bed.

9. Use when they're not around.

You can get some of the disinfecting benefits of the stronger oils when the kids aren't around. For instance, one of the stronger essential oil blends often associated with sicknesses (has some form of the name Thieves in many brands) shouldn't be used on or around kids. But if you wanted to diffuse it  or clean with it to disinfect surfaces, you could do so in the main living spaces after they go to bed so that by the time they get up in the morning it's all settled and they won't directly breathe it in or get it on their skin.

10. Use whole health, not just oils.

Essential oils are not a magic cure-all and end-all for good health. Keep your kids healthy by eating well-rounded meals, drinking lots of water, and staying active. If some need for essential oils could be prevented, even better. Taking care of ourselves is always the best choice over relying on something, natural or not, to ease our symptoms.

When it comes to essential oils (and anything health related), I believe it's better safe than sorry. Do your research and do what seems the best for you and your family. If anything feels off, change what you're doing. When in doubt, check resources and ask true health / medical professionals.

Go here >> for more about how we use essential oils.

Enjoy and oil on!


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*Note: Affiliate links used in this post. Any purchases made through these links could earn me a small commission with no extra cost to you. I only link to products we've used and like. I am not a direct salesperson for any particular product or brand. I am also not a medical professional; all things related to your health need to be shared with your doctor.

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