A Beginner's Guide To Using Aromatherapy With Children part 1
Trust your instinct - a beginner’s guide to using aromatherapy with children:
Essential oils are pure aromatic plant essences – they are distilled from flowers, fruit, leaves, resins, roots, seeds, and wood. The are used for their healing properties the world over – in , for example, they are only available through licensed, qualified parishioners. In the United States, we have free access to essential oils – but with this comes with some important cautions: Only some of the essential oils available are suitable for children; others are not suitable for children and some are even dangerous to children (children with epilepsy should not come in contact with stimulating essential oils).
When used correctly however, essential oils can be of great benefit, and will not conflict with your child’s medically prescribed drugs. Always research the oil of choice thoroughly before using with your infant or child – ask advice from a qualified practitioner, or see the references at the end of this article.
That said, essential oils can be a wonderful way of supporting your child's health, happiness and well-being. Essential oils can be very therapeutic and nurturing to both your child and you, the caregiver. Essential oils are used externally (on the outside of the body) in your child’s bath, body lotions, oils, creams, gels, compresses, foot baths, or in a oil warmer. The effects of aromatherapy will generally fall into one of three main categories: 1) Assisting in healing from minor illnesses and accidents, 2) Supporting your child’s overall sense of well-being, and 3) Assisting your child in getting quality rest.
When using essential oils with your child, it is imperative that you find a reputable supplier of therapeutic-grade essential oils, using organic or wildcrafted varieties when possible. Synthetic copies of oils commonly used in perfumery are not appropriate, and may even be harmful to your child’s health. To maintain efficacy, essential oils should be kept in dark amber or cobalt glass containers, in a dark and cool location, away from the child’s access. Wooden storage boxes from craft or 'Pier One' type stores can make a nice container for the bottles.
Methods of Using Essential Oils
There are two methods of using essential oils with your child – INHALATION: through a diffuser, nebulizer, or adding to a humidifier reservoir, and TOPICAL APPLICATION: diluting the essential oil in a carrier oil and applying topically. Adding essential oils to a bath combines the two methods, though we will cover it under topical application.
For topical application, essential oils are diluted in varying strengths depending on the use and age of your child. The concentration can vary from one drop of essential oil per tablespoon of carrier oil, to a couple of drops per teaspoon of carrier added to a drawn bath, to an equal ratio of carrier and essential oil applied directly to your child’s feet (as in the case of gentle Lavender). In other words, there is a huge variation in dilution levels depending on the circumstances. Mamas, do your research and then trust your instinct. Only you and your child baby know exactly what is right for your situation.
General dilution rate guidelines of essential oils in one ounce of carrier oil:
Age of Child and amount of Essential Oil per One Ounce Carrier Oil for Topical/Massage Application:
Newborn (Consult primary care physician before use)
1-3 drops essential oil / ounce
1-3 drops essential oil / ounce
1-4 drops essential oil / ounce
1-4 years (unless very small)
5-8 drops essential oil / ounce
5-10 drops essential oil / ounce
5-12 drops essential oil / ounce
12 years to young adult
10-15 drops essential oil / ounce
DO NOT USE AN ESSENTIAL OIL NEAT (undiluted ) on children’s skin, unless indicated to do so for a specific condition. If your child has very sensitive skin, it is important to test a small area before using a new single oil or blend. Keep essential oils away form the eyes. When using citrus oils - orange, bergamot, lemon, tangerine, mandarin, and lime - do not use where the skin will be exposed to sunlight for the next 12 hours. These oils are considered 'phototoxic', and can react from the sun's rays. They may be used in a bath, however, where they will be washed off the skin when the bath is done.
Essential oils are not to be taken orally (by mouth). When your child is taking medications, reduce the amount of essential oil by half the amount recommended for their age group.