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Essential Oils for Children

Nowadays, essential oils are widely available and are becoming a common staple in many households. But can essential oils be beneficial for children, and are essential oils safe for children?

Essential oils have been used for centuries to promote positive physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, along with treating a range of ailments. These potent oils are extracted from the flowers, leaves, stems and other plant parts, and each oil carries its own range of therapeutic benefits. 

Content/Quick links

  • Can essential oils be used for children?
  • Essential oils to help babies and children sleep
  • Essential oils for colic
  • Essential oils for colds in children
  • Essential oils for anxiety in children 
  • Essential oils for head lice
  • The best carrier oils for children 
  • Using essential oils safely with children
  • To sum up

Can essential oils be used for children?

The benefits of essential oils don’t end with adults. Essential oils can also offer a wide range of benefits to children, including encouraging sleep, calming anxiety and relieving the symptoms of colic.

However, care must be taken when using essential oils on children. Essential oils should never be used around babies under three months of age due to their delicate body systems.

We’ve put together the best essential oils for babies and children to help you to choose the right oil for your child’s needs.  

Essential oils to help babies and children sleep

It’s a well-known fact that babies and children often struggle to sleep. This leaves their parents tired and lacking energy and the baby or child out of routine.

It’s important to ensure you’re following good sleep hygiene with your child, including limiting screen time before bed, making use of age-appropriate and consistent bedtimes, and sticking to schedules and routines. However, this isn’t always enough. Many parents search for other ways to support sleep naturally in children.

Lavender is perhaps one of the most well-known essential oils, with calming and sedative effects. Research supports its use in babies and children. A 2008 study investigated the impact of adding lavender oil to a baby’s bath before bed. Lavender oil was found to be effective in reducing cortisol levels in both mothers and infants, reducing crying in the babies and increasing time spent in a deep sleep afterwards.

Many parents also rely on the effects of German chamomile and Roman chamomile essential oils for naturally helping their babies and children sleep. Although its effects have not yet been fully proven, there is strong anecdotal evidence to suggest that chamomile essential oil has natural soothing and hypnotic effects. This makes it a promising natural remedy for helping babies and children sleep.

There are many ways in which you can use essential oils to improve your baby or child’s sleep. You can add a few drops of your chosen oil to a diffuser for the aroma to be inhaled, or you can create a sleep-inducing aromatherapy bath for your child. If you decide to add essential oils to your child’s bath, you’ll need to first dilute the oil with a carrier oil to prevent skin irritation.  

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Essential oils for colic

It can be hard to watch your baby suffering from colic when it feels like there’s nothing you can do to help them. It’s not clear exactly what causes colic, but it’s thought that it could be related to digestive issues or allergies. It typically clears up on its own after a few months.

Lavender essential oil has been proven in studies to help to alleviate the symptoms of colic. In a 2012 study, babies suffering from colic were given an aromatherapy abdominal massage using lavender oil each day. This resulted in a reduction in time spent crying, demonstrating the effectiveness of lavender essential oil in reducing the symptoms of colic.

Another effective essential oil for relieving the symptoms of colic is chamomile essential oil. One study investigated the impact of applying chamomile oil topically to a baby’s abdominal region three times per day over the course of 14 days. The study found that babies who received the chamomile oil topically spent less time crying than those in the control group.

To use essential oils for colic, dilute a drop of lavender or chamomile essential oil in a tablespoon of carrier oil such as grapeseed or coconut oil. You can then massage the mixture gently into your baby’s abdomen in a clockwise direction.  

Essential oils for colds in children

Children seem to have endless colds, especially once they start nursery or school. Luckily, essential oils can help you to relieve some of your child’s cold symptoms, making them more comfortable and helping them to sleep easier.

Eucalyptus is a popular essential oil for relieving congestion as it is a natural expectorant. However, for children under the age of two years old, it’s important to ensure that the oil you’re using is Eucalyptus radiata. The more commonly found Eucalyptus globulus is not suitable for use on infants. The organic eucalyptus oil manufactured by volant is Eucalyptus radiata, making it suitable for use in children.

Eucalyptus oil is often combined with peppermint essential oil to relieve the symptoms of colds and other illnesses. However, peppermint oil should not be used in children under three years (some sources even suggest up to 6 years old) as there is evidence to show that it may cause respiratory rates to slow in some children, which could potentially lead to seizures.

Frankincense is another essential oil which is useful during times of illness. As well as having strong antibacterial properties, this rich essential oil helps to break down mucus, clearing the respiratory tract and sinuses and easing congestion. Frankincense essential oil can help if your child has a cough or is struggling with congestion.

Try adding a few drops of these essential oils to a diffuser, allowing the aromas to fill your room. Your child will naturally inhale the scent of the oils, easing their congestion and allowing them to breathe more easily.  

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Essential oils for anxiety in children

Many children will struggle with anxiety at some point in their childhood. This could be due to changing family circumstances, the loss of someone close or moving homes or schools. Essential oils can be beneficial for children who are suffering from anxiety.

Lavender essential oil is a popular choice for children who are feeling anxious. A recent study investigated the effects of children inhaling lavender oil before dental treatment and found that it reduced anxiety, blood pressure and heart rate significantly. Inhaling the floral aromas of lavender oil may help to calm and soothe your child, allowing them to relax and find a new perspective.

Another essential oil which may be beneficial for children suffering from anxiety is sweet orange. This sweet and fruity essential oil is uplifting and energising, ideal for helping your child to get out of bed and ready for school in the morning. Citrus oils such as sweet orange have also been known to calm overstimulated children by helping to balance their mood – another bonus!

If your child is struggling with anxiety, it’s best to consult a doctor to find out if there’s any further support available. Children can often benefit from talking therapies such as counselling. However, essential oils can complement this, helping your child to relax both their body and their mind.  

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Essential oils for head lice

Head lice are often a regular occurrence once your child starts school. They spread easily and can be difficult to get rid of. But essential oils can help.

A 2010 study measured the ability of tea tree essential oil and lavender essential oil for repelling head lice. The study found that tea tree and lavender oils offered good protection against head lice, with 97.6% of participants remaining lice-free, compared to only 25% in another group who were using an alternative product.

More research is required to definitively prove the effects of tea tree and lavender essential oils for repelling head lice, but it is a promising option.

If you want to test out the benefits of using essential oils to repel head lice, try adding a drop of each oil into a clean, empty spray bottle and fill it with water. Spritz it onto your child’s hair each day before school to help to keep the head lice away.  

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The best carrier oils for children

If you decide to apply essential oils topically to your child’s skin, you’ll need to first dilute them with a carrier oil. There are many carrier oils to choose from, including grapeseed, coconut, jojoba, avocado and sweet almond oil, among others. Each oil comes with its own therapeutic properties and benefits.

If your child has any allergies, you’ll need to ensure that the oil you choose is free from those ingredients. You’ll also need to perform a patch test before applying the product more liberally to your child’s skin.

Grapeseed is one of the most commonly used carrier oils for children thanks to its gentle properties. Most children tolerate this oil well, making it a popular choice. This oil is light and moisturising, leaving your child with soft, hydrated skin.

Coconut oil is often celebrated for its health benefits and is another popular choice. It’s packed full of vitamin E, helping to protect the skin from sun damage, whilst nourishing and hydrating the skin. It’s a great choice for children suffering with eczema thanks to its hydrating properties.  

Using essential oils safely with children

Whilst these oils have been deemed generally safe when used properly and in moderation, it’s important to be aware of a few safety guidelines when using essential oils on babies and children.

Always check the product labels to ensure that you’re using pure, organic essential oils. This is particularly important if you plant to use the essential oils on your children. Some essential oils are premixed with alcohol and can cause irritation. All essential oils manufactured by volant are organic and pure, so you can purchase with confidence.

You should never apply essential oils directly to the skin without first diluting them with a carrier oil. Applying neat or undiluted essential oils topically is likely to cause skin irritation. For young children, it’s safest to apply the essential oils to your child’s feet. This is the best way to prevent your child from accidentally ingesting the oil.

If you’re adding essential oils to a bath, they should be mixed with a carrier oil or full-fat milk before being added to allow the oil to disperse effectively throughout the water and reduce the risk of skin irritation.

When diluting your essential oils with a carrier oil to apply topically or add to a bath, you’ll need to make sure they’re diluted to the correct strength. The maximum dosage is as follows:

● 3 months – 24 months: 0.25% - 0.5% (corresponds to about 1 drop of essential oil per 4 tsp carrier oil)
● 2 – 6 years: 1% - 2%
● 6 – 15 years: 1.5% - 3%
● Over 15 years: 2.5% - 5%

These are maximum dosages. You may find that a weaker concentration is sufficient for your child’s needs, so start small and build it up if needed.

Before applying essential oils topically or adding them to a bath, it’s important to carry out a patch test to check for skin irritation. You can find out more about performing a patch test here. 

You should always take care when using essential oils with children. Essential oils should never be ingested so it’s important to keep them out of the reach of children at all times. If you think your baby or child may have ingested essential oils, you should seek emergency medical care.

If your child has any underlying health conditions, it’s important that you consult their medical provider before using any essential oils to ensure that the oils are not contraindicated with their medical condition or treatment plans.

If you want to use essential oils personally which aren’t suitable for use around children, you can choose to use an aromatherapy inhaler. This will allow you to benefit from your chosen essential oils without risking your child inhaling the scent.

As always, if you’re unsure about using essential oils with your child, you should consult your child’s medical provider before beginning.  

To sum up

Essential oils can provide many benefits to babies and children, including improving sleep, treating colic, reducing anxiety and repelling head lice. However, it’s important to take care when using essential oils with children due to their sensitive body systems. 

For more information about essential oils, or to speak to an aroma expert, email us at:

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