Essential oils are all the rage these days—and for good reason! When used properly, these powerful plant-based oils can yield some pretty incredible benefits for everything from tummy troubles to runny noses.
If you’re new to the holistic approach to health and wellness, you might be wondering if essential oils are safe for kids. In fact, you’ve probably even tried to answer that question a time or two by researching online, only to find a ton of conflicting information. Some say everything is safe, and some say nothing is safe — what’s a mama to do?!
In this post, we’re diving into essential oils to tell you everything you need to know, including how to use them for kids safely. So grab your cup of coffee and get comfortable because we’re about to dive in!
Essential Oils 101: Everything You Need to Know
Simply put, essential oils are aromatic compounds that come from flowers, stems, roots, leaves, seeds, bark, or peel of a plant. In chemistry jargon, they are considered “volatile organic compounds,” which just means that they readily convert from a liquid to a vapor form at room temp.
In other words, what you’re smelling are itty-bitty molecules of vaporized oil that are much lighter than air, allowing the smell receptors in your nose to quickly absorb them, which then sends messages through the limbic system — the part of your brain involved in your behavioral and emotional responses.
Each plant’s “essence” has a unique chemical makeup that affects its smell, absorption, and effect — no two oils are exactly alike. Once the plant’s essence is bottled, it can be diffused into the air and breathed into the lungs or simply mixed with a carrier oil like almond oil and applied directly to the skin.
What’s the Big Deal About Using Plant Extracts for Kids?
Just like adults, kids can benefit greatly from essential oils. However, caution must be used since the powerful plant extracts are heavily concentrated. You see, kids are smaller and much more sensitive in general to aromas — not to mention they are still developing and could have unknown allergies. With that in mind, taking caution is of the utmost importance when it comes to using essential oils on your little ones.
Here are a few ground rules:
Rule #1: Quality Always Matters
There are many shady brands out there that sell synthetic plant extracts jam-packed with questionable ingredients and label them as essential oils — these are NOT essential oils and should be avoided like the plague. Only purchase essential oils from an honest and reputable company that have been carefully produced and thoroughly tested to ensure safety for your tiny tot.
Rule #2: Don’t Let Kids Swallow Them
Even if a manufacturer claims that their oils can be consumed, experts warn that swallowing them can be very poisonous for children and could lead to a number of icky health complications — including stomach pain, vomiting, respiratory issues, seizures, coma, and even death.
Always err on the side of caution and never administer these powerful oils orally to your little one.
Rule #3: Store Essential Oils Away From Curious Hands
Considering the potential harm of ingestion, you should always store your essential oils in a safe spot out of the reach of children. Kids are infinitely curious by nature and like to taste things as they explore.
Rule #4: Do NOT Add Undiluted Oils to Bath Water
Many people think adding a drop or two of essential oil directly into a warm bath can be soothing. However, it’s just the opposite. Since water and oil don’t mix, the concentrated form can quickly irritate your kiddo’s skin.
Rule #5: Dilute Essential Oils for Topical Use
This rule is super, super important — whatever you do, always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil, like jojoba oil, almond oil, or coconut oil, when topically applying them on your little monsters. Their skin is much more sensitive, and using oils “neat” can lead to painful rashes and sensitivities.
Rule #6: Watch Closely for Reactions
Keep a close eye out for allergic or other adverse reactions to essential oils, just as you would when introducing new foods to your kiddos. A good indicator that something is wrong is when your child complains or says they don’t like the smell. When that happens, stop using the essential oil. If the side effects are much more severe — like wheezing, coughing, difficulty breathing, vomiting, or nausea — seek medical care immediately.
Rule #7: Avoid Certain Essential Oils
As mentioned earlier, no two essential oils are alike. With that in mind, there are some oils you should avoid using on your kids. For example, peppermint and wintergreen both contain a high amount of menthol, which can cause breathing problems in young kids (under 30 months old).
Tea tree and eucalyptus oils are also best to be avoided, as they can cause symptoms such as agitation, hallucinations, and seizures — not good!
What Essential Oils Are Safe for Kids?
Now that we’ve covered the ground rules, let’s talk about the essential oils that are perfectly safe for your little ones, shall we?
1. Lavender Essential Oil
One of the most popular essential oils for relaxation and sleep, lavender has been used to promote a deep slumber for thousands of years. The deliciously sweet aroma will gently soothe your bundle of joy to help them drift off to dreamland in no time.
2. Ginger Essential Oil
Stop tummy troubles in their tracks with ginger essential oil. Many studies show that it can help relieve uncomfortable digestive issues and reduce the occurrence and severity of nausea.
Ginger is also rich in gingerol, a powerful polyphenol compound that has unbelievable antimicrobial effects and can protect against stomach bugs and other gastrointestinal issues.
3. Copaiba Essential Oil
Looking to boost your sweet angel’s immunity? Copaiba essential oil can help. This versatile oil can also calm inflammation while providing pain relief — perfect for teething babies!
4. Sandalwood Essential Oil
Kids are known for getting bumps, cuts, scrapes, and boo-boos of every kind. Sandalwood essential oil is an excellent way to support your little one’s natural healing responses to fight off icky germs they can get from owies. Plus, this powerful essential oil can also help promote feelings of calmness, which can be especially helpful after a painful boo-boo.
5. Citronella Essential Oil
For us parents, we know firsthand what mosquito bites mean for our kids. Our poor helpless little ones simply can’t handle the itch — day or night. What’s more, some kids get it really bad, developing an allergic reaction to the bite that causes the area to swell up, resulting in a whole lot of discomfort.
While we can’t stand to see our kiddos get covered and smothered in itchy bug bites, we’re also absolutely repulsed by the harsh chemicals and questionable ingredients commonly found in commercial insect repellents.
Enter BuzzPatch — an all-natural mosquito repellent patch infused with a powerful combo of Citronella and other essential oils that are perfectly safe for kids! And unlike topical sprays, which contain Picaridin or DEET (yuck!), BuzzPatch is not only easy to apply but also environment-friendly.
Citronella essential oil has been used for many years as a safe and natural way to kick pesky mosquitoes to the curb. It works by masking the human fragrances that these little bloodsucking vampires find appealing, causing them to buzz off and find their meal elsewhere.
Safety First, Fun Second
So, are essential oils safe for kids, you ask?
As long as you are purchasing from a reputable source and follow the ground rules, essential oils are perfectly safe to use and can produce infinite benefits for your darling angels. The right type of essential oil can help with:
- A sense of calm and a deep, restful slumber
- Protection from pesky mosquitoes
- Provide pain relief while boosting immunity
- And so much more!
Here at The Nature Patch Co., we see the incredible healing power in plants — that’s why we created BuzzPatch.
Made using non-woven fabric patches infused with a combo of kid-friendly essential oils, BuzzPatch is designed to confuse mosquitoes and hide your kids from their strong senses.
Ready to put an end to itchy bug bites once and for all? Check us out today and say goodbye to mosquitoes the natural way!
More Kids Accidentally Poisoned by Essential Oils | Web MD
QBI.UQ.EDU: The limbic system | Queensland Brain Institute
Is DEET Bad for You (and Your Kids)? | Cleveland Clinic