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Essential Oils Blog

Kids & Essential Oils Safety

By: Christina Smith, Certified Aromatherapist

Contact Plant Therapy with any questions


Kids and Essential Oil Safety

We all want the best for our kids. In a world where there are so many synthetics and chemicals, it’s nice to have the option of using something more natural. However, just because something is natural doesn’t make it completely safe. Essential oils should be used with caution around children. Education is the key to safe use!

While we do not generally recommend the use of many essential oils in children under 2 years old, there are a limited number that can be used with children aged 6 months – 2 years but they need to be used sparingly and with a safe dilution. When choosing to use essential oils on children under 2, you’ll want to ask yourself a few questions:

  1.  For what purpose am I using this essential oil?
  2. For how long do I intend to use it?
  3. Is this oil considered safe for use with children?

It’s best to use essential oils only as needed (for an illness or a random sleepless night) and for the SHORTEST amount of time possible, always make sure the oils you choose are safe for use with children. This doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t use essential oils with your children, just that you need to make good choices when doing so!

Why the age restrictions?

All children are different! These are general guidelines and you must find what works for your family. However, there are certain oils to avoid with children such as birch and wintergreen because of the concern of developing Reye’s Syndrome. Oils high in menthol or 1,8-cineole should also be avoided since they can cause breathing concerns with young children. While this is rare – it can occur and should be taken seriously when choosing essential oils. The good news is there are so many oils that cover some of the same therapeutic properties that age-appropriate oils are easy to find!

Children under the age of two have the most restrictions on use. Essential oils for use on children ages 2 – 10 can be found here – kid safe chart. Once a child has reached age 10, unless they’ve shown a sensitivity or other reaction, nearly all oils are safe for use.

 Dilution rate

What is a dilution rate? This refers to the amount of essential oil in comparison to the amount of carrier oil (like grapeseed or coconut oil). We have a reference chart that lists the proper dilution rates. For children age 2 – 10 we recommend a 0.5% – 1% dilution. Here are a few of the reasons you want to dilute your oils:

  1. To avoid skin reactions like rashes and phototoxicity (a severe sun reaction)
  2. Children are still developing and their bodies don’t react in the same way an adults does.
  3. To avoid a systemic issue like hepatoxicity or neurotoxicity (which are rare, but can occur).
Constituents to avoid

There are a few constituents that you want to avoid using on children under the age of 6.  Here is a list with the reasons why you’d want to avoid them

  1. Menthol. High menthol content in an essential oil, as found in Japanese peppermint and Peppermint, can slow breathing in very young children.
  1. 1,8-Cineole. In excess of 40%, this is another constituent that can slow breathing in young children as previously mentioned. Found in Eucalyptus.
  1. Methyl salicylate. Some people have sensitivity and this can cause issues for kids who have symptoms of ADHD. Also – this should be avoided generally in kids because of Reye’s Syndrome (as mentioned above)
UPDATED KID SAFE CHART:

List of Kidsafe Oils

Choice of oils

At Plant Therapy – our focus is on customer satisfaction and safety. We wanted to offer a line of oils that you know are safe for use on your children. The oils chosen are all gentle, yet effective. Our goal is to empower our customers and allow you to make the best choices for your family’s health. If you have any questions regarding these or other oils that we offer – please contact one of our certified aromatherapists at [email protected]

72 thoughts on “Kids & Essential Oils Safety”

  1. Would love to know what oils are recommended for use in children 6 months-2 years when the parent is using them as a last resort. Specifically for things like immune boosting and coughs/congestion. This is, of course, when all other options have been exhausted and we are trying one last thing before seeking out pharmaceuticals!

  2. I had no idea peppermint wasn’t safe for young children! We were using a few drops on a kleenex to diffuse for my toddler when he has a stuffy nose at night. Won’t be doing that again anytime soon!

  3. Hi there!
    I am a mother of 10 year old & my daughters height is short as I am short as well. I wanted to ask if there is any essential blends I can use for increasing her height.
    Thanks

  4. I’m confused on diffusing around infants and young children. A lot of people say it’s ok to diffuse 5 drops of an oil over hours bc they won’t absorb much but others say absolutely not. Any advice?

    1. We recommend only diffusing for 15-30 minutes with young kids, and only for specific purposes. It can be done safely, and it’s best to use KidSafe synergies and singles. We have made this easy by placing the KidSafe (when diluted) stamp on each bottle that is safe for use around children. 🙂 I hope that helps…

      1. Can this be done multiple times a day or just 30 minutes total per day? (Lavender, tea tree or orange; 6 month old and 3 years old)

        1. Taylor for a 3 year old you can diffuse 1-2 times per day. For children under 2, we recommend limiting diffusing and only when baby is not in the room.

  5. I had no idea you cannot just diffuse any of the synergies around your kids. Kinda bummed about that I’ve been diffusing the adult immune booster everyday just in the house during cold season….I had no idea Guess I should have just purchased kid ones

  6. Hi! I’m new to using essential oils and I turned to them for my 2 kids who are 4 and 2 yrs old because they get sick so so easily and almost always it affects their respiratory system. My 4 yr old also has viral asthma so I’ve been trying real hard to keep them healthy. I started using the Thieves blend and also the breath easier blend by young living but recently in a Facebook group someone mentioned that these oils are not a good idea to use around small children. Can you recommend something else that I can use for them instead?

  7. If we were to diffuse oils from the KidSafe list within our living room, or kitchen, or master bedroom and our 4 month old isn’t in any of those rooms for long periods of time… or even at all, is that ok? My midwife also mentioned that 1 drop of lavender added to our son’s coconut oil (or shea butter, etc.) would be safe (in her opinion), I wanted to see if that was ok.

    1. I’d say diffusing for 15-30 minutes with a newborn present (making sure to only choose gentle, KidSafe® options) would be fine.

  8. So would it not be safe to diffuse a non-KidSafe blend or single oil in the living room if my 2 year old is in there? I wasn’t aware that this might be unsafe & want to double check with you. I only use KidSafe oils on him, but haven’t decided on a diffuser yet, so I haven’t diffused anything, but would like to soon. And I think I read somewhere that you should diffuse for 30 minutes, the off for 60 minutes. Can this cycle be done all day? I’ve read reviews of people diffusing things all night as they sleep. Is that bad?

    1. When dealing with small kids, it’s best to stick to KidSafe® synergies. This way you know that diffusing for 15-30 minutes with your kiddos is a good choice. You can cycle, but really only diffuse “as needed” for certain circumstances (restless night, try Nighty Night – not feeling you’re best, try Germ Destroyer, etc)

        1. Jennifer, it depends on the size of the room. In a bedroom, you would want to use 3 drops. In a larger, open room you could use 4-6 drops.

  9. I have a ten week old newborn and I was wondering when is it ok to use lavender on or around him? And how should it be applied safely topically and diffused safely ? I used it with my 3 year old when he was a baby and never knew wasn’t safe 🙁 Thank you!

  10. Shopping for a diffuser to double as a humidifer when my children (4 & 6) are congested. My intention was to run it all night as I had in the past, with the addition of a few drops Germ Destroyer or Sniffle Stopper. Am I understanding now that I shouldn’t diffuse for them all night even if it’s Kid Safe? If not, would you recommend just getting a humidifer and using carrier oil to apply the EO? Or diffusing for a shorter time and not having the humidifer throughout the rest of the night? Or something else? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Jamie,

      Normally we recommend diffusing for 30-60 minutes before bedtime and then shutting the diffuser off. If you would like to diffuse all night we recommend using a diffuser that will allow you to diffuse for 30 minutes on and 30-60 minutes off. I hope this helps!

  11. My little brother, who turned 5 in January, struggles with seasonal allergies. I was thinking of purchasing the KidSafe Sneezy Stop oil to diffuse using the AromaFuse. I’m new to essential oils though and want to make sure I’m not doing anything unsafe. How often or how long would you suggest I diffuse this oil? Also, would it be a better idea to just buy an inhaler for him to use, instead of the diffuser? Any feedback or guidance you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    1. Jessica, we recommend diffusing 30-60 minutes, 1-2 times per day.You can use a personal inhaler if that is more convenient for you.

    1. Carolina, that all depends on the oil or blend, what you are using it for, and the age of the child or person.

  12. What exactly happens to children if unsafe amounts of oil have been applied or diffused? It’s sad but with the boom in EO use, I feel there is a lot of misuse. My self included, unknowingly of course. There even some teachers that diffuse in their classrooms, I wish there was a better way to educate people.

    1. Renee, there are a number of things that can happen. Some essential oils, such as Peppermint and Eucalyptus can slow breathing in young children. Cinnamon, Oregano and other ‘hot oils’ can cause irritation to the skin. Plant Therapy offers many resources, such as a dilution chart, KidSafe Essential Oils chart, Pregnancy and Nursing Safety chart and much more. Most of these are available on our blog. If you have specific questions, please feel free to email [email protected] and we will be happy to assist you.

  13. I am new to the oils. I just bought one called calming sleep for my boys’ room as my mother in law recommended doing this, my boys are 12 months and one month. The one I got has wintergreen in it and I just read it could be bad…

    1. Rhonda, I’m sorry, we would not generally recommend using essential oils on kids under 2. This blend which has wintergreen which has some strong cautions associated with it. For more information please email an aromatherapist at; [email protected]

  14. I love the fact that plant therapy advocates such caution around young children. So far I have only purchased kid safe blends to use with my 2 and 7 year olds. My husband and I are wanting to try a couple of not kid safe blends – mainly Muscle-Aid and Rapid Relief especially for my husband who deals with alot of aches and pains from his job. I’m wondering the best way to go about using them so that it is not an issue especially for my 2 year old. Also is it ok to diffuse a not Kid Safe oil/synergy in a room when the kids are not around (with the door shut or if they are in a different part of the house)? Thank you!

    1. It would be fine to diffuse if the kids are in bed, or in a different room, but it might be more effective to make a massage blend for him to use on him, when away from the kids..

  15. What oil can i diffuse in my 9 year son’s room to help lessen his allergic rhinitis? How long should I Diffuse? Or is it safer to use the roll on oil?

  16. hi, i am new to essential oils, and my main reason for using are my kids.. i bought nighty night, immune boom, sniffle stopper and sneezy stop and frankincense (all plant therapy) my concern is that my 8years old son sneezes more and coughs harder with sniffle stopper (like asthma) is there an ingredient in sniffle stopper that causes asthma attacks? btw my son has asthma (triggered by too much activity). or am i doing it wrong? i diffuse 4 drops in 80ml water for 30-45 mins every night ( when he have cough and colds, but i am planning to stop when the symptoms are gone) pls enlighten if i diffuse it thw wrong way or if i should stop using sniffle stopper.. thankyou

    1. Kimy, asthma can be incredibly tricky as reactions can vary depending on the individual. What one person may find helpful could trigger a reaction in another. When introducing new essential oils to your son I would suggest having him gently inhale each oil individually, in a well ventilated area, to ensure there is not negative reaction. In this case, Sniffle Stopper may not be the best choice for him. If you need any additional help or suggestions please email us at [email protected]. Thanks!

  17. So its only safe to difuse 30-60 mins in kids room? I am using nighty night to help my 3 years old son sleep through the night.

  18. So we can not use the kid safe EO on kids under 2 years? I have a 10 month old. Which oils can I diffuse and put on her? Diluted of course.

    1. Constance, essential oils are not recommended for bringing down a fever. Although some can be effective, it is not always safe to do so. I would recommend using Immune Boom or Germ Destroyer to help boost the immune system and shorten the duration of the illness.

  19. In the above questions I’m reading that you should only diffuse for 30 minutes? Is it not okay to keep a diffuser on for an air freshener for longer as you would have a candle (before we knew candles were bad)?? We have a 4 year old and plan on only using the kid safe EO’s.

    1. We don’t recommend it. You can diffuse all day intermittently, however. We recommend half an hour on, and an hour off. 🙂

  20. Hi there. Thx for all the info you’re providing. Please tell me.. spearmint can be used for children what age? Minimum age I mean 🙂

    And Q 2: Eucalyptus radiata is safer than globulus? Or are they the same? Limit age of 10 in both of them?
    Thx

    1. Spearmint is safe to use topically and via diffusion starting at age 2. 🙂

      Radiata has the same recommendations as Globulus. 🙂

  21. Thank you so much for all the information you share about safe usage. My cousin and I refer to it often and recommend this blog & company highly when teaching an essential oils safety class in our area.

      1. Hi for synergies like ban the bug. What oils should i use im a mom of 8 month old and i am now confuse of what oils to use in making or mosquito insect repellant. I have citronella basil lavander frankincense lemon. Help please

  22. Thank you so much for this, especially the picture/list, and all the feedback in the comments. I have just discovered Plant Therapy and am so excited to see how seriously you take being “kid safe” (I have a toddler). So many other companies don’t put nearly this amount of effort in! Thanks again.

  23. So my son is 10 and I have used oils a few times on him with no issues and diffused with no issues as of yet. Should I still take precautions with him?

    1. Christie, roll-ons are great because you can use them often throughout the day! You can use more than one a day if you would like, but I would not recommend using two different roll-ons at the same time, just because that can be an overwhelming and possibly unpleasant smell! As far as how often can you roll them on, there really is no limit. They are diluted for safety and shouldn’t cause any concern if you use them throughout the day 🙂

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