Which Essential Oils Are Safe For Different Aged Children?

Which Essential Oils Are Safe For Different Aged Children | Growing Up Herbal | Learn which essential oils are safe for different aged children in this post!

I wrote a post a long time ago called the 10 Best Essential Oils To Use For Children (my first guest post in fact) where I talked about 10 essential oils that are must-haves in your natural medicine cabinet when you have children.

What I failed to mention was which oils were best for what ages.

For example, I mentioned that peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils are great to have on hand with kids, but I didn’t mention that age and the method of use impacts the safety of those oils.

So today, I want to share some brief information and links with you to help you make sure you’re using essential oils safely for your children.

Essential Oil Safety

Which Essential Oils Are Safe For Different Aged Children | Growing Up Herbal | Top 10 Essential Oils for Children + EO Safety

Essential oils are sourced from herbs, but essential oils are much stronger and more concentrated than herbs so there is more of a chance to experience problems with them such as topical irritation, allergic reactions, sensitivities, etc. than there is with herbs… especially with children.

Children differ from adults in how they respond to essential oils due to a few things. For starters, their bodies are smaller than an adult’s so they don’t need the same amount of oil as an adult would. Another reason is that they’re more sensitive to the therapeutic effects of oils, therefore, smaller amounts of oils work as well for them as the larger adult doses do for adults. And lastly, they’ve not been exposed to as much as an adult has, therefore, their bodies are less able to handle a lot of something new than we are.

Now I’m in no way saying that all herbs are totally safe for kids. There are some to be careful with and some that shouldn’t be used at all with children. But when it comes to using essential oils, you’re dealing with a distilled extract of an herb and not the whole plant. That means that many of the buffering constituents in the plant have not crossed over into the oil and there’s a chance that more side effects can occur.

The whole point of using alternative methods over more modern-day ones is to find safe, more natural routes to helping our kids, but we as moms need to do our research… on essential oils and herbs both. 

Essential Oil Dilution Ratios

In my research on using essential oils safely for children, I’ve found that the key factor to safe usage is the dilution ratio. Many essential oils are strong and not recommended for children under a certain age, but depending upon the dilution ratio used, some of these oils can be used.

The safest dilution ratio for children under 6 years old is a .25% dilution and for children over 6 years old, the typical ratio is a 1% dilution. Now, this can vary depending upon whether the oils are being used for prevention or during an actual sickness, but it shouldn’t vary too much.

This is a great post on properly diluting essential oils which includes a dilution chart for you to bookmark and reference.

Safe Essential Oils For Children

There’s a lot of varying info online about essential oil safety, and you’ll have to do some digging to sift the wheat from the chaff. Now I’m not an essential oil expert by any means, and I try to make that clear here on Growing Up Herbal. Nonetheless, I do use essential oils in my home, and I want to know about and pass on good information concerning using essential oils for kids because essential oils can be effective and helpful allies for wellness.

Here’s a link to a list of safe essential oils for children from Mommypotamus. It details plant species, age ranges, and application methods for the oils mentioned. It also mentions the controversial 1,8 cineole present in peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils that can be a safety concern, particularly where small children are concerned. Speaking of 1,8 cineole, here is another great article from the New York Institute of Aromatic Studies that I’d highly recommend a parent reading before using any cineole-rich essential oil on their child. It helps debunk a lot of the 1,8 cineole safety scare information you often come across online.

Finally: Your Child’s Health Is Ultimately Your Responsibility

The point of all of this, and hopefully everything I put across here on Growing Up Herbal, is that it’s our responsibility as parents to take charge of our children’s health.

I know it’s not possible to be an expert in all health-related things, which is why we go to experts for their advice, but that doesn’t mean we can hand all decisions and responsibility over to them. We ultimately have the final say which means we have to know and understand some things ourselves. Sure these experts should help us, but I think it’s wise to have multiple sources to go to for information and for cross-references. I hope Growing Up Herbal can be one of those sources for you, but I never want you to rely on my information alone. I’m human. I’m not perfect. I make mistakes. We all do.

This post was originally written on December 26th, 2013, but has been updated as of November 7, 2019.

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28 thoughts on “Which Essential Oils Are Safe For Different Aged Children?”

      1. Hello, I am an essential oil beginner interested in buying some St Johns Wort for my collection, but my fave brand doesn’t carry that oil…do you have a fave you can recommend?

        1. Hey R! Thanks for your comment. To answer your question, St. Johns Wort isn’t commonly offered in essential oil form which is probably why you’re having trouble finding in from EO companies. Instead, the herb is often infused fresh into oil (like olive oil) and used in body care products. You can find it at Mountain Rose Herbs and a lot of Etsy sellers offer it. Hope that answers your question!

  1. Thank you so much for posting this! I was looking all over for this information in order to make salves, chapsticks and lotions for Christmas that were okay for the various aged kids and wee ones to use or have used on their wounds, rashes, etc. I really appreciate you sharing this!

  2. I have been doing research lately on oil safety and I have read peppermint oil should not be used on children under 6. Before I learned this, I was told that all oils are safe for everyone. I wish all the oils “reps” out there were more educated on safety. I was using it on my daughters, all under age 6, including a 1 year old at the time. I have since learned that oils shouldn’t be used on children under age 2. I advise everyone to do their own research and to not blindly trust everyone selling oils.

    1. Same here Jo… including eucalyptus and rosemary too. I’m so thankful nothing bad happened and that I’ve learned a lot since then! Thanks for sharing!

    1. From my understanding Angelique, Myrrh is a pretty safe essential oil. It’s part of the Sesquiterpenes chemical family which doesn’t really have any big safety concerns. Obviously it’s not wise to take it internally or to use it in large doses, and I’d definitely do a spot test first on the wrist or inside of the leg to make sure no reactions occur. There are some good EO groups on Facebook that have aromatherapists in them that would be better able to answer you than I can. Either way, this article and this article are what I referenced so check that out, and you can also do a Google search to see if you can find additional info on it.

  3. thanks for the post. I agree that my child’s health is ultimately my responsibility! a lot of people are spread irresponsible information and the only way to protect our ourselves is to be extra cautious when it comes to sharing & advises from people.

  4. You list euculyptus as a must have but the list you direct to says that it should be avoided for all ises under age 10.

    1. Hey, Sally! So sorry for the confusion! There has been a lot of research done on the different varieties of eucalyptus (as there are many) and their use with different aged children more recently. I’ve updated that link so it directs you to a Mommypotamux article that has more recent information included in it which details which eucalyptus species to use for different ages. I think it will help you out a lot because eucalyptus EO is a great on to have for children… just the right one for the right age.

  5. I’m curious to know if using essential oils such as peppermint in hand soap with a base as “Castile soap”, with a small amount of coconut oil and adding the peppermint oil is safe for kids? As I have come to do research on all the toxic chemicals in the local stores products, I have desired for my family to become more healthy and have began to research “homemade” recipes. For example, the above senecio:
    Homemade foaming hand soap recipe:
    2 TBSP Castile soap
    1 -2 TSP fractionated count oil
    10-15 drops essential oil
    Directions:
    1. Pour castile soap and fractionated coconut oil into bottle.
    2. Add essential oils.
    3. Fill the rest of the way with water, leaving room for the foaming pump.
    4. Screw on the pump top and shake gently.

    Is this considered safe for my four children whose age ranges from 1.5 years old to 8 ??
    I’ve read all the dilution rules (carrier oils to essential oils); however this is a bit different, because there is other components such as soap and water.. yet I’m still concerned and would like some help if possible!
    Please email me or send a link where I can educate myself more on the essential oils.
    Thanks in advance!

    1. This is a tough question, Misty. You’re right that peppermint essential oil isn’t recommended for young kids (exact ages vary based on the aromatherapist you’re taking advice from). From the training I’ve had on essential oils, body care products (those that are washed off the body) can have larger dilutions of essential oils in them because they don’t sit on the body and absorb into it in large amounts. Another thing about soaps, in particular, is that soap binds to oils so the essential oils wash off the body well in cases like these. I think the problem, in this case, would be linked to the smell, though. Peppermint EO contains a chemical called 1,8-cineole which can trigger receptors in the lungs that may slow respirations in some children. Obviously, this is a bigger deal with smaller children, and it doesn’t happen with all children. My personal guess is that this wouldn’t be a likely problem for you from washing hands occasionally, however, you can always use a different oil just to be on the safe side. Cyprus, lemon eucalyptus, fir needle, pine, rosalina, spruce, tea tree, all smell similar to peppermint in some ways. Spearmint is okay for kids 2 and older too if you wanna stick close to the mint smell. Anyway, I hope this helps, mama. Best of luck!

    1. It really depends on who you talk to. Some aromatherapists don’t recommend using EOs on kids under 2, and others would be okay with using lavender on a 6-month-old as long as it were properly diluted. Lavender essential oil is one of the safest EOs you can use… you just want to make sure you’re using a low dilution rate. I think it’s .25% for that age, but double check that because that’s just from memory. Another thing to consider is what you’re using it for and how much will go on baby’s skin. If it’s all over the skin, like with a cream or lotion, then a low dilution rate is best. If it’s used for a specific issue, a stronger dilution would be needed, and that may not be safe for a baby. In that case, a lavender hydrosol would be a better option. Hope that helps you some!

  6. Hello Megan,
    read your useful blog on essential oils safety. Indeed very useful, however my query is about essential oils in cold pressed soaps. Please advise me if eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils soaps are safe for 3years + children?
    the total percentage of essential oils is 3% of the oils weight.
    Will look forward for your reply.
    Many thanks
    Farida

    1. Eucalyptus is limited to children 3 and older. Peppermint is limited to children 6 and older. However, that’s for diluted, topical use that’s intended to sit on the skin. From my understanding, soaps or anything that doesn’t sit on the skin and absorb in for extended periods of time can include larger dilutions of essential oils. However, I’m not sure if the age recommendations vary for these kinds of products or not. Your best bet would be to ask an aromatherapist this question and see what they advise. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help!

        1. Thank you so much for sharing this with me! This article was so eye-opening, and I’ve updated the post to include it. Thanks again!

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