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Essential Oil Use for Babies & Children

When it comes to the health of their children, many parents are unsure as to what is safe to use and what is not. Although there are sources that say you can use any therapeutic grade essential oils on infants and children as long as they are diluted with a carrier oil, there are some oils that are hot enough that it is unwise to use them on a baby's sensitive skin. This article will address the oils that are generally considered safe to use on children and which oils to use for common conditions a parent may encounter with their child.

The information on this page is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to be used to diagnose, prescribe or treat any disease, illness or injury. Seek professional medical attention if your child appears to have any disease, illness or injury.

Dilution Recommendations

When using essential oils on babies and children, it is always best to dilute the pure essential oil with a carrier oil. For older children, dilute 1-2 drops of essential oil with 1/2-1 tsp. of carrier oil. For newborns and infants, dilute 1-2 drops in 2 Tbs. of carrier oil. If the oils are used in a bath, always use a bath gel base as a dispersing agent for the oils. Common carrier oils include fractionated coconut oil, olive oil, vegetable oil, or almond oil.

Safety Precautions

Keep the oils out of children's reach. If an oil is ever ingested, give the child an oil-soluble liquid such as milk, cream, or half & half. Then call your local poison control center or seek emergency medical attention. A few drops of pure essential oil shouldn't be life-threatening, but for your protection, it is best to take these precautions.

Oils Regarded as Safe for Children

Any of the oils discussed on this page are safe to use, especially if diluted. However, the following list contains oils that many people commonly agree are safe for infants. If you do not have experience with essential oils or are a cautious parent, choose the oils listed under each condition that are also found in this list to use.

Several oils that are generally considered safe for children include the following:

  • Cypress
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Ginger
  • Lavender
  • Lemon*
  • Marjoram
  • Melaleuca
  • Orange*
  • Rosemary**
  • Sandalwood
  • Thyme
  • Ylang ylang.

*These oils are photosensative; always dilute. To prevent a rash or pigmentation of the skin, do not use citrus oils when exposed to direct sunlight.

**These oils should never be used undiluted on babies and children.

Essential Oil Uses for Babies and Children

See the Common and Botanical Name Index for the botanical name of each oil listed below.

Colic: Marjoram, bergamot, ylang ylang, ginger, Roman chamomile, rosemary, or melissa. Dilute 1-2 drops of oil in 2 Tbs. carrier oil and massage a small amount of this blend gently on stomach and back. Blend: Combine 2 Tbsp. Almond oil with 1 drop Roman chamomile, 1 drop lavender, and 1 drop geranium. Mix and apply to stomach and back. Note: Burping the baby, and keeping the abdomen warm with a warm (not hot) water bottle will often bring relief.

Common Cold: Thyme, lemon, cedarwood, sandalwood, rosemary, rose. Dilute 1-2 drops of oil in 2 Tbs. carrier oil and massage a little on neck and chest. Diffuse into the air.

Constipation: Rosemary, ginger, orange. Dilute 1-2 drops of the oil in 2 Tbs. carrier oil and massage on stomach and feet.

Cradle Cap: Blend: Combine 2 Tbsp. almond oil with 1 drop lemon and 1 drop geranium. Mix and apply a small amount on head.

Croup: Marjoram, thyme, or sandalwood. Dilute for massage or diffuse. Bundle baby or child up and take outside to breathe cold air.

Crying: Ylang ylang, lavender, Roman chamomile, geranium, cypress, frankincense. Dilute for massage or diffuse.

Diaper Rash: Lavender (dilute and apply). Blend: Combine 1 drop Roman chamomile and 1 drop lavender with carrier oil and apply.

Digestion (sluggish): Lemon or orange. Dilute and massage feet and stomach.

Dry Skin: Sandalwood. Dilute and apply.

Earache: Melaleuca (Tea Tree), Roman chamomile, lavender, or thyme. Put a diluted drop of oil on a cotton ball and place on the surface of the ear; rub a little bit of diluted oil behind the ear. Blend: Combine 2 Tbsp. carrier oil with 2 drops lavender, 1 drop Roman chamomile, and 1 drop melaleuca (Tea Tree). Put a drop on a cotton ball and put on surface of the ear, rub behind the ear and on the ear reflex feet points.

Fever: Lavender or peppermint. Dilute in carrier oil and massage baby or child (back of neck, feet, behind ear, etc.). Peppermint (diffuse only).

Flu: Cypress or lemon. Dilute 1 drop of each in 1 Tbsp. bath gel base for a bath or diffuse.

Jaundice: Geranium, lemon, or rosemary. Dilute and apply on the liver area and on the liver reflex feet points.

Premature: Since premature babies have very thin and sensitive skin, it is best to avoid the use of essential oils.

Rashes: Lavender, Roman chamomile, or sandalwood. Dilute and apply.

Teeth Grinding: Lavender (rub on feet).

Tonsillitis: Melaleuca (Tea Tree), lemon, Roman chamomile, lavender, or ginger. Dilute and apply to tonsils and lymph nodes.

Thrush: Melaleuca (Tea Tree), lavender, thyme, lemon, or geranium. Dilute and apply.

For more information on the use of essential oils and aromatherapy for babies and children, please click here.

The information on this page is an abridgement from the Modern Essentials "Personal Usage Guide" section by AromaTools. This information has been designed to help educate the reader in regard to the subject matter covered. This information is provided with the understanding that the publisher, the authors, and AromaTools, LLC are not liable for the misconception or misuse of the information provided. It is not provided in order to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any disease, illness, or injured condition of the body. The authors, publisher, and AromaTools LLC shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss, damage, or injury caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by this information. The information presented is in no way intended as a substitute for medical counseling. Anyone suffering from any disease, illness, or injury should consult a qualified health care professional.