As you delve into the world of essential oils and essential oil diffusion, you may wonder: “Are essential oils safe for babies?” As with anything related to babies and small children, exercising caution and thoroughly researching ingredients and labels is key.
In this article, we will delve into the “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of essential oils, review a list of essential oils safe for babies, and provide you with a list of essential oils considered toxic to infants and small children.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Essential Oils with Babies
Are essential oils safe for babies? Yes, if used properly and carefully. To help guide you on your journey to using essential oils for babies, we compiled a list of “Do’s” and “Don’ts” when using essential oils on your child.
Do purchase high quality essential oils from a trusted source. Always check product and ingredient labels to ensure the essential oils you purchase are pure. Essential oils that are mixed with alcohol can irritate your child’s skin.
Do use baby safe carrier oils for diluting your essential oils. Baby safe carrier oils include: castor oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, mustard oil, almond oil, and sunflower oil.
Do perform a patch test on your child before applying an essential oil, carrier oil mixture to large parts of the skin. First apply a small, dime-sized amount of diluted essential oil to your child’s skin to test for sensitivity. Wait 24 hours for a skin reaction. If your child’s skin is unaffected, you can apply the mixture to a larger part of their skin.
Do introduce one essential oil at a time to test for sensitivity. This will allow you to closely monitor which essential oils cause skin sensitivity for your child.
Don’t use essential oils on infants under 3 months of age. The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians do not advise use of essential oils topically or aromatically with children under the age of 3 months.
Don’t allow your infant or child to ingest essential oils. Essential oils are toxic to infants and small children when ingested.
Don’t apply essential oils to your infant or child without a carrier oil. Essential oils are extremely potent. Use of essential oils without a carrier oil could cause breathing problems or severe skin irritation. The general rule for essential oils and carrier oils is 0.25% - 0.5% essential oil dilution.
Don’t apply essential oils near your child’s eyes, nose or mouth. Infant’s skin near their eyes, nose, and mouth is very sensitive. Applying essential oils near these areas could lead to burns and irritation.
Don’t use essential oils near a heat source. Essential oils are highly flammable. Using essential oils near a heat source can cause a fire and, subsequently, burn you or your child.
Don’t add essential oils directly into your child’s bath. Essential oils and water do not mix. Adding essential oils directly into your child’s bath may cause the essential oils to stick to and burn their skin. Mix the intended essential oil into a carrier oil with proper dilution before adding the mixture into your child’s bath.
Baby Friendly Essential Oils
Some essential oils are safe for use on your infant or small child while other essential oils are deemed unsafe for use topically or through essential oil diffusion.
The following essential oils are commonly used with infants and small children as a result of their wonderful therapeutic properties. In addition to the essential oils described below, the following essential oils are also considered safe and beneficial for use on children: mandarin essential oil, vetiver essential oil, lime essential oil (diffusion only), and dill.
Lavender essential oil is a commonly used essential oil in personal care products catered to infants and small children. Known for its soothing and calming effects, lavender essential oil promotes relaxation and encourages sleep.
A recent study conducted by the International Journal of Nursing Practice found lavender essential oil helpful in soothing babies with colic.
In the same vein, rose absolute essential oil is known to calm the mind and promote relaxation throughout the body. This earthy, floral scent is also associated with positive sentiments of emotional security and resilience.
German chamomile and Roman chamomile are essential oils commonly used to calm infants and promote sleep. Chamomile is a powerful essential oil found in recent studies to improve symptoms of insomnia and encourage relaxation.
Tea Tree (Diffusion Only)
Tea tree essential oil is a powerful antifungal and antibacterial essential oil used to disinfect a space and eliminate airborne contaminants. Tea Tree oil can be mixed with an unscented carrier oil and applied topically to diaper rashes on children over the age of 6 months (as we mentioned earlier, always patch test before larger application).
Pink Grapefruit (Diffusion Only)
Pink grapefruit essential oil supports digestive function and promotes healthy circulation. This essential oil should never be used topically on infants and children as a result of its phototoxic properties. However, diffusing pink grapefruit through your home space can promote a positive mood for you and your child.
Frankincense essential oil is a tried-and-true essential oil that dates back thousands of years. This essential oil is known to promote healthy immunity and improve congestion in addition to its mood boosting qualities.
Unsafe Essential Oils for Babies
While many essential oils are deemed “safe” for children, there are a handful of essential oils that should not be used on babies or small children.
When using essential oils for babies, it is important to read each essential oil label thoroughly and adhere to any cautions or warnings listed on the bottle. The following essential oils are considered unsafe for use on babies and small children and should be used carefully and sparingly in a home with infants and toddlers.
- Eucalyptus (for children under 2-years-old)
- Idaho Tansy
- Phototoxic Essential Oils (Topical Application)
- Expressed Lemon
- Expressed Grapefruit
- Expressed Lime
This list is not exhaustive. We recommend reading each essential oil label thoroughly before applying essential oils on your child through topical application or through essential oil diffusion. Many highly regarded essential oil companies have “Kid Safe” labeling on products, which may help to narrow your essential oil search.