I wrote a post a long time ago called the 10 Best Essential Oils To Use For Children (my first guest post in fact) where I talked about 10 oils that are must-haves in your natural medicine chest when you have children.
What I failed to mention was which oils were best for what ages.
For example, I mentioned that peppermint essential oils are great to have on hand with kids, but I didn’t mention that peppermint oil should not be used on newborns but only on children 6 and up.
So today, I want to share some brief information and links with you to help you make sure you’re using essential oils safely for your children.
Essential Oil Safety
Essential oils are sourced from herbs, but essential oils are much stronger and more concentrated than herbs so there is more of a chance to experience problems with them such as topical irritation, allergic reactions, sensitivities, etc. than there is with herbs… especially with children.
Children differ from adults in how they respond to essential oils due to a few things. For starters, their bodies are smaller than an adult’s so they don’t need the same amount of oil as an adult would. Another reason is that they’re more sensitive to the therapeutic effects of oils, therefore, smaller amounts of oils work as well for them as the larger adult doses do for adults. And lastly, they’ve not been exposed to as much as an adult has, therefore, their bodies are less able to handle a lot of something new than we are.
Now I’m in no way saying that all herbs are totally safe for kids. There are some to be careful with and some that shouldn’t be used at all with children. But when it comes to using essential oils, you’re dealing with a distilled extract of an herb and not the whole plant. That means that many of the buffering constituents in the plant have not crossed over into the oil and there’s a chance that more side effects can occur.
The whole point of using alternative methods over more modern day ones is to find safe, more natural routes to helping our kids, but we as moms need to do our research… on essential oils and herbs both.
Essential Oil Dilution Ratios
In my research on using essential oils safely for children, I’ve found that the key factor to safe usage is the dilution ratio. Many essential oils are strong and not recommended for children under a certain age, but depending upon the dilution ratio used, some of these oils can be used.
The safest dilution ratio for children under 6 years old is a .25% dilution and for children over 6 years old, the typical ratio is a 1% dilution. Now, this can vary depending upon whether the oils are being used for prevention or during an actual sickness, but it shouldn’t vary too much.
This is a great post on properly diluting essential oils which includes a dilution chart for you to bookmark and reference.
Safe Essential Oils For Children
There’s a lot of varying info online about essential oil safety, but I’ve really learned a lot from the site LearningAboutEOs.com. I’m not an expert by any means, and I almost always use herbs over essential oils anyway. None-the-less, I want to give you some good info on using essential oils for your kids because they can be effective and helpful.
Here’s a link to a list of safe essential oils for children. It details species and age ranges for the oils mentioned.
Here is another post from Learning About EOs that talks about the safety of using menthol containing oils on young children as well. This is a must read if you’re slathering your child in store-bought or homemade vapor rub containing eucalyptus or camphor essential oils when they’re congested.
Finally: Your Child’s Health Is Ultimately Your Responsibility
The end point of all of this, and hopefully everything I put across here on GrowingUpHerbal.com is that it’s our responsibility as parents to take charge of our children’s health.
I know it’s not possible to be an expert in all health-related things, which is why we go to experts for their advice, but that doesn’t mean we can hand all decisions and responsibility over to them. We ultimately have the final say which means we have to know and understand some things ourselves. Sure these experts should help us, but I think it’s wise to have multiple sources to go to for information and for cross-references. I hope GrowingUpHerbal.com can be one of those sources for you, but I never want you to rely on my information alone. I’m human… I’m not perfect… I make mistakes. We all do.
This post was originally written on December 26th, 2013, but has been updated as of March 10, 2014.