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Posted in Essential Oil Basics by Rocky Mountain Oils

Essential Oils for Children

When it comes to essential oils for children, a common question asked is which essential oils are not safe to use topically? As it changes according to age, it’s much easier to say which ones are safe for each age, rather than which ones are not. Once they are age 12, you can use the oils as you would for an adult.

You must make sure you dilute these oils according to the child’s age. Very important to remember that!

Dilution Rate for Children

When you are diluting one of our oil blends that is already blended in a base of FCO, you adjust the ratio by tripling the number of drops. So if a neat (unblended) oil needs to be diluted, put 1-2 drops in 1 ounce of carrier oil. You can dilute a blended oil 3-6 drops in 1 ounce carrier oil.

Newborn 0 drops
2-6 months 1 drop
6-12 months 1-2 drops
1-4 years 1-5 drops
5-7 years 3-6 drops
8-12 years 5-10 drops

Essential Oils for Children

This involves topical use of these oils on children. They absolutely must be diluted. That can not be stressed enough! When it comes to essential oils for children, just keep the saying “err on the side of caution” on hand and in the front of your mind at all times. I have it posted above my work table!

This chart is a guideline to help you get started. You may find that one oil will work really well on one child earlier than it says and the same oil needs to be used later on another child. This is a guideline only. It also does not cover all essential oils.

Child’s Age Essential Oils
Newborn Best not to use essential oils on newborn skin
3-6 months Roman Chamomile, German Chamomile, Lavender, Red Mandarin, Neroli, Dill Seed, Geranium, and Rose
7–12 months Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Palmarosa, Petitgrain Bigarade, Tangerine, Helichrysum italicum, Myrtle, (and all of the ones listed in above ages)
2-5 years Frankincense, Ginger Root, Lemon, Grapefruit, Coriander, Blue Yarrow, Cucumber Seed, Eucalyptus citriodora, Melaleuca, Nutmeg, Ravintsara, Cardamom (and all of the ones listed in above ages)
6-8 years Bergamot, Sweet Marjoram, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus radiata, Eucalyptus globulus, Helichrysum gymnocephalum, Pine, Myrrh, Spikenard, Orange, Carrot Seed, Peppermint, Rosewood, Fennel Seed, Anise Seed, Rosemary (and all of the ones listed in above ages)
9-11 years Cypress, Melissa, Ylang Ylang, Elemi (and all of the ones listed in above ages)

Many of you have asked why you shouldn’t use all essential oils on your children if you dilute them. There are two reasons for this: skin irritation and skin sensitivity. Overuse of any particular essential oil on the skin can cause a skin irritation, including allergies.

One other effect is that the oil could be too powerful for the child. Children are so small and their skin is so sensitive that the absorption of the oils has a quicker, stronger effect on them than it does for an adult. Overdoing any particular oil can create many problems for the child internally, not just skin sensitivities. The liver and kidneys process much of what goes in and if there is too much of something in there, it can cause damage to one of those organs. This is an effect that is not noticeable at first. It only builds up over time.

As far as Peppermint and the Eucalyptus oils go, two of the key constituents to those oils are Menthol, in Peppermint, and a high percentage of 1,8 Cineole, in Eucalyptus radiata and Eucalyptus globulus, which stimulate the cold receptors in the lungs. In really young children who are at risk for chronic respiratory issues, this can trigger a reflex which slows breathing down significantly. (For more info, please see Essential Oil Safety: For Health Care Professionals, 2nd Edition, by Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young).

Little girl is blowing a soap bubbles

Once they are older, topical use is not so much a problem.

Now, it needs to be remembered, Eucalyptus citriodora is safer than Eucalyptus radiata and globulus.

The hot oils are designated as such not just because they can burn, but because they are very powerful. The Chamomiles are called the “children’s oils” because they are milder and much better for the sensitive skin.

Ultimately the decision is yours, of course. But those are the reasons for advising caution with using essential oils topically on children.

A Few Last Points

Do not ever apply topically to children under 5: Oregano, Cinnamon Bark, Bay Leaf, and Clove Bud.

For at risk children under 3, you need to avoid essential oils with a high 1,8 Cineole constituent (65% and up). Those oils are Eucalyptus radiata, Eucalyptus globulus, and Cajeput. They can slow their breathing too much.

And last of all, never have children under age 12 ingest essential oils.