Essential Oils for Kids - What's Safe and What's Not

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Essential Oils for Kids: What’s Safe, What’s Not

safe essential oils for kids near bath

By Jessica Cobb, Certified Aromatherapist

Essential oils aren’t just a trend! It may seem like essential oils are the “trendy new hotness” right now, but actually essential oils have been used by humans for thousands of years to heal, calm and enhance lives.

Before you read anything else: Rest easy knowing that using your essential oils for kids is not inventing the wheel, you’re actually using tried-and-true methods moms have been using throughout history. Plus, we’ve got your back.

safe essential oils for kids in a wagonWhat’s the big deal about using essential oils for kids, anyway?

Kids are not tiny adults!

One single drop of essential oil is equal to 15-40 cups of medicinal tea, or up to 10 teaspoons of tincture. Woah, it’s no wonder we love them so much!

But think about it, would you give a child 40 cups of tea or 10 teaspoons of tincture? No way! Which is why you need to treat essential oils a little differently when using them for kids. Plus, some essential oils can only be used on children over a certain age, and some oils that just plain can’t be used for kids at all.

Don’t stress! We’ve got your back with all the info you need to safely use essential oils for kids.

Lil Stinkers Coco KidSafe Essential OilWhat essential oils for kids are?

There are so many essential oils that you can diffuse, or apply topically on your child’s skin that is 100% safe, beneficial to their health, and affordable. Here is just a short list:

That’s just a tiny part of the list of child-safe oils! You can also choose KidSafe® oils! Choose from anything in our KidSafe® line and be 100% sure you’re getting essential oils that are safe for your children.

Which essential oils should you AVOID using on and around your kids?

So, it’s true that some essential oils aren’t safe for use with children. Peppermint, for example, has a high amount of menthol, and some chemotypes of Eucalyptus and Rosemary have high amounts of 1,8-Cineole, which are not safe for use around children.

Don’t put your oils away just yet, you can still safely use essential oils for your kids in the home, you just need to make sure your oils and synergies are kid-friendly and make sure you’re educated.

Here’s a long–but not complete–list of which essential oils are NOT safe to use on children:

Oils to avoid using for children at all:

  • Birch (Sweet)
  • Chaste Tree

Here are just some of the oils to avoid using for children under 10:

  • Benzoin
  • Black Seed
  • Cassia
  • Clove Bud, Clove Leaf, Clove Stem
  • Garlic
  • Ginger Lily
  • Honey Myrtle
  • Hyssop
  • Lemon Leaf
  • Lemon Myrtle
  • Lemongrass
  • Massoia Bark
  • May Chang
  • Melissa
  • Sweet Verbena
  • Oakmoss
  • Opopanax
  • Oregano
  • Peru Balsam
  • Saffron
  • Sage (Wild Mountain)
  • Savory
  • Styrax
  • Treemoss
  • Tuberose
  • Turpentine
  • Verbena (Lemon)
  • Ylang Ylang Complete

child in field of flowersThere are still ways of using your “not safe for kids” essential oils around children:

You’re probably wondering if you can use essential oils that are NOT safe for your children yourself when you’re around your children all the time.

The answer is–you totally can! A personal inhaler lets you use whichever essential oils you need, without worrying about affecting your little ones.

Just make sure to use your personal inhaler away from your baby and leave enough time for the scent to dissipate before bringing your child back into the room.

Remember, essential oils for kids are an amazing way to naturally enhance your child’s life, care for their body and nurture their mind. All it takes is a little education, some quality oils and a loving parent to reap all the benefits essential oils have to offer!

102 thoughts on “Essential Oils for Kids: What’s Safe, What’s Not”

    1. Hi Megan, both of those oils are not on our KidSafe list and we do not recommend using them around your small children. In particular, Peppermint can cause breathing issues. However, Spearmint makes a great substitute! You can also safely use Eucalyptus Dives around children, but it is the only KidSafe variety of Eucalyptus.

  1. Hi.
    I’ve just discovered that Lemongrass oil’s are unsafe for children.
    However in my decision to experiment (before reading your article!!), I’ve found that baking soda, vinegar, a small amount of Dawn dish soap and lemongrass makes an AMAZINGLY effective cleaner AND stain remover on teak wood!
    What would you recommend instead of the lemongrass oil because my 2 1/2 year old granddaughter Loves helping me with my antiques and cleaning?
    She did not help me with this mixture but…I don’t want to endanger her health when I need a cleanser to remove stain from wood. And my hands from applying new stain to the restored wood!

    Thank you for your information!
    I would not have known this before now!

  2. HI – I have a 2 year old and I am new to EOs. Elemi came up while I was checking out and I was going to purchase it because it helps with grounding. He is nursed still currently, would this be safe to use?

  3. Hi
    My child has leaky gut . Oregano oil heals leaky gut . You have mentioned not to give it kid . What I do in this situation . Thanks

    1. Kiran, please reach out to our aromatherapists at [email protected] to discuss your particular situation! We do not recommend Oregano for children, but I’m sure they will be able to help you determine another essential oil to use that will be safer 🙂

  4. I was browsing the internet trying to find a natural diy kid safe nail polish remover. Lemongrass EO came up several times. I see it’s on the avoid list here however. Would a wild orange EO be safe to use instead?

  5. Hi

    Thank you for his clear article. Does your advice apply equally to candles scented with essential oils at 6-8%? Many thanks. Sarah

    1. Sarah, you’ll have to reach out to our team of aromatherapists at [email protected] for help with that answer, as I am not personally aware of how dilution in candles will affect children. Thank you!

  6. It will be helpful if PT can come up with a list of oils not labelled as Kidsafe but is safe enough for diffusion instead of topical use.

  7. I work with both kids and adults in the same day. How long do I need to wait between diffusing a non kid safe oil and having a kid in my office? If I used a regular blend the first 30 min then nothing, would it be ok for a kid 30 min later?

  8. Hello, I was planning on using Lemon EO for my homemade dish soap and air freshener. Would this be harmful to my 2 1/2 year old? He washes dishes with me.

    1. Courtney, no worries there! Lemon essential oil is part of our KidSafe line of products, meaning that it is perfectly safe for children 2 through 10 🙂

  9. Is there a list of oils that are safe to diffuse around kids under 10 that are not safe to use topically? I know Lime is one of them… what are others?

  10. Im starting a personal use of essential oils for hormones which includes, clary sage oil, basil oil ,thyme oil, sandlewood oil and lemongrass . I will be using in a roll bottle on my skin but I have 7 children are these save to use around my children ?

    1. Sarah, please contact our aromatherapists at [email protected]. Before giving you a definite answer, I’m sure they’ll ask the age of your children and any specific conditions they may be sensitive to 🙂

  11. Regarding 1,8-Cineole, I just read an article that said Ravintsara contains up to 45% of 1,8-Cineole. The same article (and others) said it was safer for kids than Ravensara. Any clarification would be much appreciated.

    1. Unfortunately, with the increase of EO popularity, there are tons of different articles on the issue of safety, and it is difficult to know what advice to follow. While I do not know about these specific articles you are referring to, I do know that we consider neither Ravintsara or Ravensara to be safe to use around children. I’m sure you can reach out to our team of aromatherapists at [email protected] and they may be able to help you more with this!

  12. I see it says mountain sage… what about prairie sage? The prairies has two different types of sage. I’m in need to clear negative energy from my home without using smudge sticks

    1. Breann, contact our aromatherapists at [email protected]. Unfortunately, I am not aware of the chemical component differences between those types of Sage but I’m sure our team can help point you in the right direction 🙂

  13. I see Ylang-Ylang Complete on the no list for kids. What about Ylang-Ylang Extra? What is the difference? If I wear a roll on perfume that contains the Ylang-Ylang Extra will it be harmful to my 3 and 4 year old to smell it on me?

    1. Claire, both Ylang Ylang varieties are not KidSafe and the reason they are different is due to how long they are distilled for. We wouldn’t recommend having your toddler inhale Ylang Ylang though, but I suggest reaching out directly to our aromatherapists at [email protected] in order to discuss your particular situation one-on-one 🙂

  14. What about using Lavender? We had a scare with my child possibly going thru precocious puberty and one of the first things the endocrinologist asked us is if my child was subjected to lavender oil because it is known to cause onset of precocious puberty. Is there truth to that?

    1. We definitely recommend diffusing Germ Destroyer, which is KidSafe, instead of Germ Fighter, when there are young kids around. Germ Fighter contains both Cinnamon Cassia, Eucalyptus, Clove, and Rosemary, which each present their own safety concern for children. They can irritate mucous membranes, throat, and eyes of children under the age of 10.

      1. Here you say that eucalyptus is not safe for kids, but it is available as a KidSafe oil. Is that because it is eucalyptus dives that is KidSafe as opposed to globulus? Thanks!

  15. As a brand new essential oil user with a toddler, this post has been so helpful. I actually chose to use your company over others because of how clearly you label your products. I feel confident knowing that I am bringing wellness into my home in a way that is safe for my daughter.

  16. I see that oregano is listed as an oil to be avoided under 10. I understand not applying topically, but does this mean to avoid diffusing it as well? Thanks!

    1. Lyndsey, we do not recommend even diffusing Oregano around young children because it has some toxicity concerns, and it’s also a mucous membrane irritant, which can cause irritation in the throat the lungs when inhaled. That was a great question, thank you for asking!

  17. I read that oregano oil is safe to inhale by children for colds and respiratory infections so I’m wondering why it’s listed as not safe on here? Thank you.

    1. Plant Therapy has very strict guidelines on what we consider to be KidSafe and what is not, which may differ from other sources that are not quite as rigorous as we are. Feel free to contact our Certified Aromatherapists at [email protected] if you need more specific information! 🙂

  18. I am desperately looking for a way to help my daughter with her stomachache. She is 6 years old. I’ve heard lavender could be effective. She is being treated medically with antacids but the medication does not seem to help. What would you recommend me?

  19. Hi I use a plant based cleaning product and one of the essential oils that is in it is peppermint. I didn’t see peppermint oil on the never list but it was mentioned to be unsafe around children.

    This was the complete ingredient list: Distilled Water), Saponified Organic Oils of Coconut, Olive & Jojoba, Organic Aloe Vera, Organic vegetable gum/glycerin extract (coconut), Organic Essential Oils of Peppermint (Mentha piperita), Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia)& Tea Tree (Melaleuca Alternifolia), Rosemary Extract

  20. “But think about it, would you give a child 40 cups of tea, or 10 teaspoons of tincture? No way! Which is why you need to treat essential oils a little differently when using them for kids. Plus, some essential oils can only be used on children over a certain age, and some oils that just plain can’t be used for kids at all.”

    I have been working with essential oils for over 17 years and teach workshops on them as well. Last weekend a student asked me why an essential oil would be safe for an adult and not a child. I know that children are smaller and require a lower dilution rate and I have lists of oils not safe for children, but did not have a clear answer for this question. I found the above quote in this article and still am not getting the ‘why’. I wouldn’t give an adult 40 cups of tea or 10 tsps of tincture. I would love further clarification on this if you have it. Thank you!

    1. Plant Therapy’s KidSafe® chart and stamp of approval that you find on our oils, are approved by Robert Tisserand. When deciding if an oil meets our KidSafe® requirements, there is a lot that goes into this decision. If there is ANY concern with using the oils around (topical or diffusion) children, we do NOT list it as KidSafowever, our recommendations are the absolute strictest when it comes to adding the KidSafe® stamp of approval on the oil, and we recommend that everyone do their own research and do what they feel most comfortable doing. For additional information about this, please feel free to email a Certified Aromatherapist at [email protected]
      Thank you!

  21. I am new to essential oils and I am only wanting to use my oils in my diffuser. I have an 8 year old son so I have been looking at the Kid Safe line but I was wondering if you had a list of all your oils- including the non Kids Safe Line, that are safe to diffuse when you have children in your home? I believe in one of the comments above someone mentioned that one oil was safe for diffusing around children but not safe for application.

    1. That’s a great question, Krista! So the only oils that are Non Kidsafe that are safe to diffuse around children are: Lime, Peru Balsam and Ylang Ylang.

  22. Thank you thank you for the clear instructions on all of your oils. This takes the guess work out! Love these oils!

  23. I am still educating myself, so please excuse my naivety. Oils are deemed “kid safe” when they appear to have no side effects including respiratory and skin irritations and kid safe implies up to ten years of age. I’ve been diffusing lemongrass blended with lavender. Does that mean I have been exposing my children to harmful aromas?

    1. Great question, Tracy! Lemongrass is not considered a KidSafe oil because it contains citral, which is a powerful skin sensitizer. It may irritate skin and mucous membranes when diffused or applied topically. We would definitely recommend it not to be diffused around young children, even if you don’t notice any negative side effects, just to be safe. There are lots of other KidSafe oils you can blend with Lavender to get that nice, bright, uplifting scent though. Lemon is a good choice, or Citronella, Lemon Eucalyptus, Bergamot, and Bergamot Mint are some choices you might enjoy. Hope this helps! If you have any more concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact our certified aromatherapists at [email protected]

  24. I have a 4 & 8 year old. It is safe to diffuse oils around them if it doesn’t have the kidsafe label? I understand that if not labeled kidsafe they should not be applied topically, but wondering about diffusing.

    1. It depends on the oil. The KidSafe logo isn’t present for oils that aren’t safe to diffuse, either. If you have questions about a particular oil, you can always email us at [email protected] and we can assist you with that. 🙂

  25. This is really informative for me. I have a 10-month old baby boy and after emailing a PT aromatherapist, I am now assured that I am properly using my EOs especially with my baby (i.e. I only use it on him if it’s really necessary e.g. he’s very sick, and I always only diffuse, never applied topically). I also only buy Kidsafe EOs so I know that it’s safe for the whole family.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Maria. We have wonderful Certified Aromatherapists on board to help with any and all kinds of concerns, and we are so glad you were helped and feel confident using oils with your little boy now!

  26. So can you only diffuse kid safe oils around kids and not any of the other oils? I’ve seen some of the other big names in oils (YL) promote diffusing/ using oils that are not on your kidsafe list on children.

    1. Thank you for asking Stormy! It is true that certain essential oils are unsafe for use around children. Some of these reasons why they are not recommended for our kiddos are toxicity concerns, adverse skin reactions and breathing problems. Children are more at risk because they are smaller and therefore more susceptible to toxic substances, their metabolism is less effective than an adults, their skin is thinner than and not as mature as an adults, and they are more susceptible to respiratory issues. Here at Plant Therapy we take our customers safety very seriously and do our best to educate in regards to these concerns. If you have any other questions feel free to reach out to us at [email protected]. Thanks so much!

  27. Hi, i’m nursing my 17 month old and I’ve seen that lemongrass is not safe for under ten years old, although elsewhere i’ve seen that its safe for over two years old. I have bought a shampoo and conditioner which is made with lemongrass EO, I am only using this on myself and not my daughter but should this be avoided too due to nursing? What are the dangers of exposing younger children to lemongrass? Thanks

  28. I am confused about May Chang, Lemongrass and Opopanax. You say to avoid them for children under 10. Is that for topical use? In Essential Oil Safety, I only found cautions for children under 2.

    1. Hi Larisa, you are correct, we do not recommend using these oils with children under the age of 10. There are many reasons why some essential oils are not recommended to be used on or around children. Some of these reasons are toxicity concerns, adverse skin reactions and breathing problems. Children are more at risk because they are smaller and therefore more susceptible to toxic substances, their metabolism is less effective than an adults, their skin is thinner than and not as mature as an adults, and they are more susceptible to respiratory issues. For more information please feel free to email us at [email protected]. Have a great day!

  29. Hello, there is a lot of mixed reviews on whether Ylang Ylang is safe for children. I was told by an aromatherapist that it is safe to diffuse for 20-30 minutes but it should not be used topically. What is the latest research on this?

    1. This is true. The reason Ylang Ylang does not have a KidSafe stamp is because it has a low max dermal and is a known potential skin sensitizer. It is safe to diffuse, however.

    1. Thank you so much for catching that Kristina! Good news, Tea Tree is KidSafe! I’ve updated the post to reflect this.

  30. Always be sure to follow proper dilutions when applying topically. Plant Therapy and Robert Tisserand are my go-to people for accurate information

    1. Dilution is always an important thing to remember, that’s correct Nancy. Thanks so much for standing by us, we appreciate having you as a customer!

  31. Just to clarify – kids mean 2-7 years old? Because some
    Would identify kids from 5mos up. May I suggest indicating the age bracket to avoid confusion that just because it’s Kidsafe it means including infants, babies and toddlers. Some would assume.

    1. Hi Teresa, thanks so much for the feedback! Our KidSafe line is formulated for children ages 2-10. With that said, essential oils can be safely used with children under the age of 2. To learn how to safely do so we ask that you email us directly at [email protected] so we can provide safe use guidelines specific to your needs. Thanks so much!

  32. Plant Therapy oils will always be my favorite oils because you clearly label them with the kid safe logo on each bottle. As a mom, and now a grandmother, it helps to take any confusion out of which oils to use on children. Some oils have similar names, its easy to grab the wrong bottle, but i organize my oils by placing kid safe on lower shelves.

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