By: Christina Smith, Certified Aromatherapist
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:
- For what purpose am I using this essential oil?
- For how long do I intend to use it?
- 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.
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:
- To avoid skin reactions like rashes and phototoxicity (a severe sun reaction)
- Children are still developing and their bodies don’t react in the same way an adults does.
- 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
- Menthol. High menthol content in an essential oil, as found in Japanese peppermint and Peppermint, can slow breathing in very young children.
- 1,8-Cineole. In excess of 40%, this is another constituent that can slow breathing in young children as previously mentioned. Found in Eucalyptus.
- 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:
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]