Are Essential Oils Safe for Babies & Children?
By Caryn Gehlmann
As parents, grandparents, and child caregivers, nothing is more important to us than the safety of our children. In order to keep your kids safe, you know the importance of being well-educated and having a reliable source of information. Google can give you answers… but they aren’t always trustworthy answers. When it comes to determining if essential oils are safe for babies and children you want to look for a reputable source, ideally from someone trained in clinical aromatherapy.
Here are three suggestions to keep in mind when determining if essential oils are safe for babies and children. (Actually, these suggestions are good for adults as well, we all want to be safe in how we use essential oils!)
1. Consult your healthcare professional before using essential oils with babies and children. According to Fiona Cuthbert O’Meara, RN, Aromatherapist, “ A baby’s liver and kidneys are not fully functioning until after two years of age and are still developing up to the age of seven, making their ability to process and remove essential oils from the body inhibited.” Your healthcare professional should know the overall health, allergies, and sensitivities of your child, which should all be kept in mind when determining essential oil usage.
2. Keep essential oils out of reach of children. Unfortunately, essential oil poisoning is on the rise. Yes, essential oils can cause severe toxicity, especially when ingested and can even be life-threatening. So make sure you keep your essential oils in a safe place where a curious toddler cannot reach them. It would be horrible to accidentally grab a bottle of essential oils, thinking it’s something else, such as cold syrup, so be safe and keep your essential oil bottles separate from household medications.
3. Ensure proper essential oil selection and application method, specific to the needs of your child. Let’s start with essential oil selection. Each and every essential oil has different chemical components, so each of them has different safety recommendations. Begin by always reading the label and the safety guidelines that should accompany each bottle you purchase. There are certain oils such as eucalyptus, peppermint, and rosemary that require extra vigilance if and when used with children. At e3 we recommend that you avoid these essential oils with babies and children under the age of 3.
One of the best ways to safely use essential oils for your baby, children and yourself as an adult is to use the correct application method. Essential oils are intended for external use. (Never, at any age, should you take essential oils internally unless under the direction of a qualified health professional.) Diffusion is generally speaking one of the safer ways to enjoy essential oils and allows your child to benefit from the aroma of aromatherapy. If you choose to apply essential oils to the skin, dilution is critical, especially when using essential oils on babies and children. Read our dilution guidelines for more specific recommendations.
Many parents have seen their babies and children benefit from aromatherapy when it is done safely. So educate yourself on essential oil safety, the Tisserand Institute is a good resource on safety that many clinical aromatherapists rely on. And please feel free to reach out to us with your questions and one of our clinical aromatherapists will be happy to help you find reliable answers.