How to choose essential oils for your little ones
In this article about best essential oils for babies and toddlers, we discuss:
- Top essential oils for babies and children under age 5
- Top essential oils for babies and children over age 5
- Choosing a carrier oil
- Calculating your dilution rate
- Recommended reading
- Family kit supply list
- Baby massage oil recipe
Top essential oils for Babies and Toddlers
To make this a bit more practical, I’m giving you 2 different essential oil lists for children.
Before we get into the nitty gritty, I want to make a safety point. When applying essential oils topically to your child- no matter the age- always, ALWAYS dilute the essential oil into a carrier oil FIRST. Be sure to use a safe dilution rate for your situation- less is usually more. Babies and toddlers have a much more sensitive olfactory system than adults and the smell will be stronger to a young one.
Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis)
Chamomiles are among the most gentle of essential oils and Roman chamomile is especially suitable for babies and small children. It is calming and helps to ease fussing, tantrums, nightmares and tummy upsets. Although the price of this oil has gone up dramatically, if you can afford to get Roman chamomile, I do recommend it. The good news is, a drop or two is really all you need.
Mandarin (Citrus reticulta)
Mandarin also has a calming effect, especially useful for the digestive system. Using mandarin or tangerine in a massage oil blend for your babies’ upset tummy can work wonders.
Lavender (lavandula angustifolia)
If you only choose one essential oil for your home, it should be lavender. It is super versatile and effective. However, I do caution against overusing it. If you use it too much, it’s possible to become sensitized to lavender, even though is it one of the safest and gentlest oils. Also- although you can reportedly use this oil “neat” that is, undiluted, I wouldn’t recommend it, not even for an adult. I might make an exception in a first aid situation but that’s it.
When purchasing lavender, be sure that you don’t accidentally get lavandin- which is a hybrid oil. This is fine for making soaps and such but I prefer lavender for the jobs I need done.
Lavender grown at higher altitudes are reportedly also higher in ester content. Esters are the component responsible for calming effects. These types of lavender are are sometimes labelled lavender population. Expect to pay a bit more for them.
Regarding your new baby
Note: You will likely find conflicting information circulating about using essential oils on your newborn. Some people advise not using any essential oils on your infant until they have bonded an attachment with the mother. Others suggest using essential oils within the first few weeks to boost immunity. Both of these positions have merit. Some professionals advocate using hydrosols right in the delivery room. Other professionals recommend waiting up to three months- especially if you plan to nurse your baby.
Using essential oils on your baby
Before you decide if you should use essential oils on your new baby, you should take into consideration:
- Your own level of experience and confidence using essential oils
If you are a new essential oil user or a first time mom, it’s okay to wait awhile. It’s even okay if you are a very confident user. You need to be able to think and process what your baby needs. If you are exhausted all the time, it will be harder to calculate a safe dilution rate. My point is, use common sense!
- The method(s) of application you might use
There are definitely some routes of application that make more sense. For example, using a baby oil blend in the bath or a gentle massage could be very appropriate. Diffusing a strong blend of powerful oils near a child’s face is not.
Baby massage oil blend recipe
1oz/30ml sunflower oil
2 drops lavender
1 drop Roman chamomile
Calculating dilution rates for babies and toddlers
The calculation rate given here is suitable for a full body massage oil blend.
- 3-6 months: 0.1-0.2%
- 6-12 months: 0.25-0.5%
- 1 year – 5 years 1-2%
Let’s do the math. Here’s what this looks like:
- 1% dilution rate: 6 drops of essential oil TOTAL in 30ml/1oz carrier oil
- 2% dilution rate: 12 drops TOTAL in 30ml/1oz carrier oil
So- the dilution rate for the recipe above is calculated at: 0.5%. You should always know your dilution rate.
Next, let’s take a look at oils for children over the age of 5. There are lots more options available.
Top essential oils for Children over age 5
There are a lot more options available to kids over 5- but be careful to use appropriate dilution rates when applying a blend topically.
Lemon (citrus limon)
Lemon is anti-viral and very useful during cold and flu season. It also smells heavenly and is cheerfully uplifting.
Note on lemon: some people find this oil irritating when used topically. If you have sensitive skin, be sure to use it highly diluted. Lemon is also a phototoxic oil, which means that it can cause you to sunburn more easily. Save it for use at night, even in a diffuser.
Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)
You can use geranium combined with lavender to create your own natural insect repellent. Geranium is also good for anxiety and stress, especially when combined with lavender. I almost always use gernaium blended with other oils as it has a rather powerful odor profile.
Sweet orange (citrus sinensis)
Sweet orange is similar to mandarin and tangerine. It blends well with other oils, especially other citrus. You can combine lavender with sweet orange to help treat a number of viral infections.
To this list you can also add frankincense, fennel, ginger, eucalyptus, helichrysum, tea tree, and spearmint. (I do not recommend using peppermint on a child under 5.)
Choosing a carrier oil for your blends: babies and toddlers
Babies and toddlers have delicate skin. When choosing a carrier oil, you want to be sure that your child will not only tolerate that oil, but benefit from it as well.
Some excellent options include:
- rice bran
- fractionated coconut oil
If nut allergies run in the family or if you are concerned about exposing your child to nut oils, avoid the following carrier oils:
- sweet almond
Recommended reading for this age group:
I have this book and found it to be very well researched and practical. There are lots of rollerball recipes here, if that’s your thing.
Another book that I also highly recommend
I have this book too. Actually, if I had to choose between these, I’d go with this one first. It has much more detailed information and contains many practical recipes and formulas suitable for this (and other) age groups.
Family Kit Essentials
Every household should have at least some basic supplies for dealing with life’s little emergencies. These are the oils that are most appropriate for babies and toddlers and are versatile enough to cover a plethora of situations. Here are some suggested essential oils to start your home kit:
Other helpful supplies
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