Are essential oils safe for children?
Parenting is an exciting experience but it can also be overwhelming. Bringing a little human into the world involves taking care of him or her and making sure they are safe. Many new parents question whether it is safe to use essential oils aromatically in a diffuser and topically on their children.
According to the director of Integrative Medicine at Sibley Memorial Hospital, Dr. Harpreet Gujral, DNP, FNP-BC and the medical director of the Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine Clinics in the Johns Hopkins Hospital, Dr. Rachel Dawkins, M.D. advised that essential oils should not be used on young children in undiluted forms and also stated that children may be more sensitive to essential oils than adults are.
Guidelines for pediatric use for essential oils are as follows:
- Perform a “patch test” on your child before liberally applying essential oils to young children. To perform a patch test- Apply a small amount of essential oil diluted with a safe, pure carrier oil to your child’s skin to test their reaction. If any discomfort or reaction occurs, discontinue use immediately and report the reaction to their pediatrician.
- It is not recommended that children take essential oils internally.
- Do not use peppermint or eucalyptus oils on children less than 3 years old. These essential oils have been shown to possibly increase the risk for pediatric and infantile seizures.
- Do not apply essential oils without first diluting them. Recommended dilution percentages can range from 0.5-2.5% depending on the condition and the age/weight of the child. Oils can be diluted in hypoallergenic lotions, creams and carrier oils such as olive oil, sunflower oil, avocado oil and jojoba oil.
- Diffusing essential oils is considered generally safe with the exception of cinnamon and eucalyptus oils which can cause issues in babies and children under the age of 5.
When choosing an essential oil for use on your child, be sure that you choose a high quality product that is pure and not filled with other ingredients.