Safe use of Essential Oils Babies, Infants and Children
Using essential oils safely is not only important for adults but especially so for babies, infants and children. In recent times information about the risks of traditional western medicine has become more available and apparent.
As a parent my own son experienced severe infant eczema and many steroid creams were employed to treat his condition. There came a time when my son had been listening to the early morning news as we readied for school. He told me he wasn’t having the creams on his skin again and accepted his emollient bath wash. Worried and anxious about his skin flaring up it was the same programmer a little while later introduced aromatherapy to us. My son told me he would try aromatherapy and so we did. The results were amazing for us as a family as the lavender oils powerful effect soothed the whole family’s anxiety.
I hadn’t a clue to what I was doing and when I reflect back I’m shocked that I didn’t know about dilutions other than purchasing a bottle of sweet almond oil and adding whatever amount of lavender to it! But I began my learning and soon got to grips with the basics.
Essential oils are very safe to incorporate into daily life when we have the right information and babies, infants and children can all benefit from essential oils that are used correctly. But because they are highly concentrated we must ensure they are diluted properly. The most notable resource book in the field of Aromatherapy is “Essential oil safety”, written by Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young. There are thousands of citations and the construction of the book took over a decade of production.
Robert Tisserand indicates the following guidelines where children are concerned in relation to safety:
“Keep essential oils in a place where young children cannot reach them, and never let them handle essential oils bottles. Even two-year old kids have been known to unscrew caps on essential oil bottles and drink the contents. The fact that the bottle contains an orifice reducer helps a little, but young children are used to sucking liquids. This usually results in a visit to the emergency room. While the end result is rarely fatal, every year there are some very close calls. To help prevent such accidents, all essential oils should be sold in bottles with child-proof caps. Of course this doesn’t always work, but it does make a difference”.
Never allow children of any age to ingest essential oils. The safest methods of use for kids are vaporisation through diffuses and this can include a dilution of essential oils being placed onto a tissue and placed in the kid’s room. For babies it’s possible to put one drop of essential oil diluted onto the parents shoulder and the baby can be held close to the area where the essential oil has been placed and this will gently soothe baby; it is advised not to use peppermint essential oil on or around children under 3 and eucalyptus can be used in diffusion of 1% where the child is under 3.
A digression and anecdote - One day I had a visit from my sister in law, she brought my nieces, and the younger of the two was very upset and hadn’t settled for a few days; Emi is autistic and this was part of her condition. On that day I had been using frankincense essential oil. Without thinking I said to my sister in law I would hold her while she organised herself. As I held Emi she began to quieten down and then soon fell asleep. She slept soundly as though there had never been anything bothering her. I love frankincense for this soothing sense.
Keeping things simple by using single essential oils and lowest “dosage” is the best approach and maintains safety while the child gains the benefits of aromatics. The most appropriate dilution rates for babies, infants and children are:
Up to 3 months 0.1 -0.2%
3 to 24 months 0.25 – 0.5%
2 -6 years 1 – 2%
6 years to 15 1.5 – 3%
15 upwards 2.5 – 5%
My personal favourite essential oils for kids are Frankincense, Lavender, Sweet orange, Chamomile, and Lemon balm, Mandarin, Neroli and Rose.
Deborah Casey is a qualified Aromatherapist. She began her training with personal learning and progressed onto an introductory course followed by an advanced course of learning with the Bridge Project in Washington Tyne and Wear. She then progressed onto Diploma study and obtained her Diploma in Body massage prior to successful study of Aromatherapy. Having passed through the menopause, complicated by mesh injury, she applied aromatic essential oils in an unconventional manner. Then she found white birch - her go to for many ails.