I've received this question more times than not, "Are essential oils safe for children and my pets?" (we will cover pets in another blog). The short answer is YES.
I will hit on some popular areas that I get asked about:
- Using Essential Oils on or around Children
- Safety Guidelines
- Uses and Application
- Getting your Children to Use Essentials oils (because they will love them!)
Using Essential Oils on or around Children
Once you have experienced the effective power of essential oils, incorporating oils into your lifestyle and daily routine is the next natural step. For many people, that daily routine includes children. Many parents wonder, “Are essential oils safe to use on my children?” The simple answer to this question is yes, but it is important to remember that there are certain safety guidelines and recommendations to consider when it comes to using essential oils with children.
Essential oils can be safely used on or around children, and just like anything you would use with your family—topical products, hygienic products, cleaning products, etc.—special caution should be used when applying oils to children.
Yes, essential oils are safe for children.
Because children are smaller and more sensitive than adults and are still developing, it is important to understand that the rules of essential oils are different for children than they are for parents. Once you have learned the special safety guidelines required for using essential oils with your children, it is easy to help your kids reap the benefits that oils have to offer. If your child has specific health conditions or concerns, it is always wise to consult with your child’s physician before using essential oils.
How do I know that essential oils are safe to use on my children?
While special precautions should be taken when using essential oils around children, parents can still be confident that it is in fact safe for children to use essential oils.
First, parents who are new to essential oils should know that essential oils and plant parts have been used for centuries to promote wellness, and are not a new fad or trend, but a tried and true solution for many of life’s everyday problems. Families in ancient Egypt used plant extracts and oils for everything from cooking and beauty treatments to embalming and religious ceremonies. For centuries, families in China have continued practices that promote wellness by using plant extracts and materials. Plant extracts and oils were a major staple in the households of ancient Rome, as plant parts were used for their fragrance and calming properties. After centuries of safe use, parents can rest easy knowing that essential oils have been proven safe and effective time and time again.
Essential Oils are likely in many of the products you already use
Because essential oils are naturally occurring compounds found in plants, they are a popular ingredient for many commercial products. Essential oils are often used in perfumes, soaps, candles, lotions, and skincare products to add fragrance. Due to their powerful purifying properties, essential oils are also frequently added to cleaning agents. Chances are, you most likely already have products in your home that contain essential oils. The benefit of using pure essential oils on their own is that it allows you to avoid the harmful toxins and chemicals that are often added to household products.
Because they are taken from plants, essential oils are also found in many of the foods that we regularly eat. Small amounts of essential oils can be found in many of the fruits and plants that are a part of our regular diets. This means that our bodies are already equipped to process essential oils when taken internally. Although the essential oil internal dosage for a child is far less than that of an adult, your children have most likely already been exposed to small amounts of essential oils through their diet and other household products.
Essential oils are natural, and can be safe when used properly
High quality essential oils are pure, potent, natural, and safe when used properly. As with anything we use on our bodies, there are special safety guidelines that can help us stay within the perimeters of safe use. Even seemingly harmless substances like water can be damaging to the body when used in excess amounts—and essential oils are the same way. As long as you educate yourself about the proper uses, you can safely and effectively use essential oils on yourself and around your family. Just as you wouldn’t allow your child to eat something, drink something, or rub something on their skin without knowing what it is or what it does, the key to safe essential oil usage is to educate yourself. We will discuss proper application, dosage, and other safety guidelines in more detail in chapter two.
High quality oils go through testing to ensure safety
Before you use essential oils on your children (or on yourself), it is important to understand that not all essential oils are created equal. Typically, high quality essential oils go through rounds of rigorous testing to ensure that the product is safe to use. Not all companies use these testing methods, and many essential oil distributors will use synthetic fillers that alter the efficacy of the oils. It is important to use essential oils that have been carefully produced and thoroughly tested to ensure safety for you and your family.
For example, dōTERRA® essential oils are put through a rigorous testing process where they are checked for contaminants, potentially harmful substances, and any other components that could compromise the safety and quality of the oil. It is important to choose a high quality essential oil that has been tested and cleared for safe use before using it on your family.
As mentioned, the key to safely and successfully using essential oils on children is observing the special safety guidelines that have been set to protect children from overexposure or sensitivity. As a parent, it is important to remember that the rules for using essential oils with children are different than those for adults. By observing specific guidelines when it comes to essential oil dosage, dilution, application, storage, and more, you can help your children safely and effectively enjoy the benefits that essential oils have to offer.
Here are some basic rules to follow when using essential oils on or around children.
Always supervise children during essential oil usage
Perhaps the most important safety guideline when it comes to essential oils and children is to ensure that your child only uses essential oils under adult supervision. Even if your children are used to essential oils and know how to apply them, it is always best to supervise any oil application to ensure safety. Essential oils are extremely potent and powerful, and many children do not understand concepts like dosage, dilution, and sensitivity. In addition to teaching your kids about applying essential oils safely, it is important to always be present when any essential oils are being used around your children.
Because children have a smaller body mass; have thinner, more sensitive skin; and are still developing, their dosage level of essential oils should always be smaller than adult doses. Remember to always consult your child’s physician about any specific health conditions or concerns before using essential oils on or with your child. Because oils are so potent, you will only need a very small amount for them to be effective on your children. When using essential oils with your kids, start with small doses—smaller than what you would use on yourself—and then give your child ample time to experience the benefits of the oil before applying more.
Many parents have concerns about the topical use of essential oils with children because of their sensitive skin. The best way to protect a child’s delicate skin when using essential oils topically is to dilute before application. Diluting an essential oil with a carrier oil like dōTERRA® Fractionated Coconut Oil before applying it to your child’s skin will help reduce the risk of sensitivity.
It is usually a good idea to do a sensitivity test on your child when trying a new oil, to ensure that it does not cause any irritation. To perform a sensitivity test, simply dilute the oil that you want to use, apply it to an inconspicuous spot on your child’s skin (the feet are usually the best place because that is where the skin is thickest), and observe the spot over the course of a few hours. This will give you the chance to see how your child’s skin reacts to that particular oil.
Avoid Sensitive Areas
In addition to sensitivity testing, you can help your child avoid irritation or sensitivity when it comes to using essential oils by avoiding application in any sensitive areas. As mentioned, any application of essential oils on your children should always be supervised— with your younger children, you should be the one to apply the oils; with older children, you should always be present during application.
When applying essential oils topically on children, there are a few areas that should be avoided to help prevent sensitivity:
- Skin around the eyes
- Inner ears
- Broken, injured, or damaged skin
- Inner nose
All of these areas of the body tend to have more sensitive skin, and should be avoided when applying oils topically. Remember, a child’s skin is even more delicate than an adult’s, so application methods will always be a little different when it comes to using essential oils with children.
Some essential oils, particularly citrus oils, can cause sunlight sensitivity if exposed to sunlight after applying the oil on the skin. The risk for sunlight sensitivity is especially prevalent for children, because they tend to spend a lot of time outside. Before topically applying essential oils on your children, it is wise to consider first how much time your child will be spending in the sun over the next 12 hours, and second, whether or not the oil you are applying includes a caution for potential sunlight sensitivity. As mentioned, it is typically the citrus oils that present a risk for sunlight sensitivity; however, parents must always read essential oil labels to see if an oil comes with a warning about sunlight exposure. When an essential oil or essential oil product contains a sunlight sensitivity warning, it is best to avoid sunlight and UV rays for at least 12 hours after the product is applied.
Essential oil supplements
Supplements that contain essential oils can be extremely beneficial for adults; however, children should not take adult supplements unless the product has been designated as safe for children. Luckily, there are many essential oil supplements (including dōTERRA® products) that are designed specifically for children. Kids can reap the benefits that essential oil supplements have to offer, Dilution ratios for children: 5 drops of carrier oil for 1 drop of essential oil CHEWABLE™ 60 TABLETS and can still take some adult supplements when they are designated as safe for the whole family. Before giving your child any supplement, read all labels or instructions to ensure that it is appropriate for children. It is always wise to consult with your healthcare provider if you have any questions about giving your child a supplement of any kind.
Essential oil storage
One of the best ways to ensure safe use of essential oils with your little ones is to practice safe storage habits—always keep your essential oils and essential oil products out of the reach of children. Kids do not understand how powerful and potent essential oils are, or how important it is to follow dosage guidelines. By keeping your essential oil collection in a place where it cannot be accessed by your children, you will help ensure their safety.
Remember, essential oils should not be stored in direct sunlight or anywhere they will be exposed to heat, as this can damage the delicate chemical profile of the oils and even detract from their benefits. Always make sure that an essential oil diffuser is placed in a safe area where children will not be overexposed to an oil and cannot reach the diffuser. While it might seem convenient to keep essential oils out in the open, proper storage is a key component of successfully and safely using essential oils in a home with children.
Many essential oil bottles come with an orifice reducer, which allows only a small amount of oil to be released at a time. Parents will often remove this extra lid to make for easier pouring or diffusion of essential oils, but this orifice reducer can help to limit the amount of essential oils that your child can get if they do happen to find a bottle. While it is tempting to leave this lid off for convenience, it is best to make sure that the orifice reducer is on when storing your essential oils.
Educate yourself as a parent
As with anything you would give your child—food, medicine, treatments, topical products, etc.—the greatest way to safely use essential oils on or around your children is to educate yourself as a parent. If you are new to essential oils, educate yourself about how they work, best practices, and safety guidelines. Once you have learned how to properly use essential oils yourself, you’ll be better equipped to share the benefits of essential oils with your entire family—including your children.
While learning about and staying up to date with safe essential oil application methods is a major part of responsibly protecting your children, it is also important that parents always carefully read warnings, labels, cautions, and distributor instructions before using essential oils on their children. By combining your essential oil knowledge with safety guidelines given by the manufacturer, you can give your child a safe, enjoyable essential oil experience.
Consult with a medical professional
Consulting with a healthcare professional before using essential oils is a safety guideline that applies to both parents and children. This rule is even more important if you or your children have specific health concerns. Each person has a different health history, and specific health conditions may change the way that you use essential oils. By consulting with your child’s physician before using essential oils around your child, you can be prepared for any special conditions that may change how you use the oils in your home.
By following these general safety guidelines, and any other recommendations from the essential oil distributor, or suggestions from your physician, you can enjoy the safe use of essential oils around your children. Remember, as the parent, you set the example for your children when it comes to safe and proper use of essential oils in the home.
Uses and Applications
Now that you know that essential oils are in fact safe to use with children, and have educated yourself about the safety guidelines, it is time to learn about some of the best essential application methods for children. While children can enjoy essential oils in many of the same ways as adults (with proper dilution and dosage), there are plenty of essential oil usage methods that are unique to children.
Here are some of the top essential oil uses for kids and families:
Before your next family hike, dilute Arborvitae oil and apply to the wrists and ankles to repel insects naturally. Basil During homework time, diffuse
oil in your child’s study area to promote a sense of focus for studying, reading, or completing other tasks that require mental clarity.
Cedarwood oil holds relaxing properties that can soothe the body and mind. When your child wakes up scared in the middle of the night, dilute Cedarwood and apply to the bottoms of their feet to help them return to a peaceful feeling.
Dilute Cilantro oil and apply to your child’s fingernails and toenails to keep them looking clean and healthy.
During your child’s nighttime routine, dilute one drop of Cinnamon oil in two ounces of water, and have them gargle the mixture for a cleansing mouth rinse.
Before your child goes to bed, apply one drop of Clary Sage oil to their pillowcase to help them prepare for a restful night of sleep.
Clove oil holds cleansing properties that are particularly useful for oral hygiene. After your child’s six-month cleaning at the dentist, add one drop of Clove to their toothpaste to help maintain a clean mouth.
The fresh, green aroma of Coriander oil makes it both relaxing and stimulating. When your child is working on homework or an important project, diffuse Coriander in an essential oil diffuser nearby.
To promote feelings of clear breathing and open airways for your child, dilute Eucalyptus oil and apply it topically to your child’s chest. As your child breathes deeply, the oil will provide an invigorating vapor.
During a long car ride or road trip, diffuse Ginger oil in the car, or place a drop of Ginger in your child’s palm and have them inhale the aroma.
Grapefruit If you have a teenager who is struggling with skin imperfections, add a drop of Grapefruit oil to their facial cleanser or moisturizer to help improve the appearance of blemishes. (Avoid sunlight or UV rays for up to 12 hours after application.)
Add Lavender oil to your child’s bath, or dilute and massage on your little one’s abdomen to promote calming and soothing feelings.
If your child craves sugary juices or sodas, add a drop of Lemon oil in a glass of water for a fresh, flavorful beverage. (This can also be done with Lime, Grapefruit, Wild Orange, and other essential oils).
Harness the calming properties of Marjoram by applying diluted Marjoram oil to a fussy child’s feet before their nap.
Melaleuca or Tea Tree
To help with occasional skin irritations, dilute Melaleuca oil and apply to your child’s affected areas.
When your child feels overheated, add a drop of Peppermint oil to a cold water compress, or to a cold foot bath to help them cool down.
Sandalwood Help promote relaxation and reduce stress by adding one drop of Sandalwood oil (Indian or Hawaiian) to your child’s evening bath.
Vetiver When your child is having a rough day, dilute Vetiver oil and apply to the child’s neck and bottom of the feet to help promote calm feelings.
Whether your child plays soccer, football, lacrosse, hockey, or any other sport, you can keep the unpleasant odor of their gear at bay by putting a few drops of Wintergreen oil on a cotton ball and placing it in their practice bag.
In addition to the essential oil uses designed for children listed above, one of the simplest and safest ways to help your children experience the benefits of essential oils is through aromatic use. By diffusing essential oils in your home, you can create an invigorating, calming, relaxing, or uplifting atmosphere for your children. Diffusing essential oils can also help purify the air in your home when you want to dispel unwanted odors or produce a clean, fresh scent. Essential oil diffusion is a simple way for the entire family to experience the powerful benefits of essential oils, without worrying about dosage or dilution.
Getting your children to use essential oils (recipes included!)
Is no secret that children can be picky. Whether your child is particular when it comes to tastes, smells, or even their routine, this can make it difficult for them to enjoy the benefits of essential oils in the same way that adults do. Luckily, there are a few fun ways to get your children to enjoy essential oils, no matter their personal preferences.
Cooking with essential oils
If your child is selective when it comes to taste, texture, or smells, you can always add essential oils to their favorite foods, beverages, and treats to help them experience the benefits of certain oils. Essential oils can help to add flavor to smoothies, baked goods, breakfast foods, and more—and most of the time, your child won’t even notice the difference.
Essential oils can help add extra flavor to your child’s favorite cookie, brownie, or cupcake recipe. Try Cinnamon Bark, Madagascar Vanilla, Lemon, Wild Orange and the doTERRA Baking Blend.
If your child likes drinking smoothies or slushies, you can simply add a drop of an essential oil that has been approved for internal use into their favorite blended beverage. My favorite oil to use is Wild Orange essential oil with my favorite fruits (try mango, strawberries, banas, and pineapple). You can use water with your smoothie or choose a juice to blend it with.
If you want to make your smoothie into a protein shake, swap our your juice for milk or milk alternative and add a scoop of doTERRA Vanilla Protein.
Dips, salsas, and sauces
If your kids like to enjoy hummus, salsa, or any other kind of dip with their after-school snacks, you can easily add a drop of essential oil to the mix and give their favorite dipping sauce some extra flavor. One of my favorite dips I like to bring to gatherings is my Tangerine Cream Cheese Dip. It's super simple, but oh so tasty! All of the kids enjoy this dip with their favorite fruit.