The use of essential oils has become so popular that many people don’t think twice about using them around young children. Their use as a natural, healthy, chemical-free alternative to many common products makes essential oils seem relatively harmless.
The good news is that essential oils are relatively harmless. The use of essential oils both aromatically and topically can be a wonderful alternative for many chemical-laden products. However, care should be taken to ensure that you’re diluting these oils properly to avoid any negative reactions.
By taking a few precautions, you can safely use essential oils around children. Beginning to replace some store-bought products with natural alternatives is a wonderful way to reduce the number of toxic chemicals that you're using in your home.
Highlighted below are the most important precautions you should take if you're thinking about using essential oils on or around your children.
Consult with a Medical Expert
Before choosing to use essential oils on or around your children, check with your family doctor. Some oils have the potential to interact with certain medications or affect people with particular health conditions. Consulting with your doctor prior to using essential oils around your children can help prevent any of these negative interactions, allowing the essential oils to only provide benefits.
Using Essential Oils Topically
The use of essential oils topically on children is widely debated. While it ultimately comes down to your own judgment, you should always properly dilute essential oils before using them on your child’s skin.
You can dilute essential oils in a carrier oil such as fractionated coconut, argan, or jojoba oils. Alternatively, essential oils can be diluted in lotion or aloe vera gel. Whatever you choose, make sure the essential oil is properly mixed into the carrier oil.
Recommended Dilutions Based on Age Group
- 6 to 24 months: Avoid the use of essential oils for children under 2 years of age
- 2-6 years: 0.25% dilution (1 drop for every 4 tsp of carrier oil)
- Over 6 years: 1% dilution (1 drop for every 1 tsp of carrier oil)
- Adult: 2% dilution (2 drops for every 1 tsp of carrier oil) 1
While some adults will choose to use some essential oils undiluted, you should never apply undiluted oils to a child’s skin. Proper dilution protects against minor irritation, photosensitivity, and sensitization. Anything put on the skin is absorbed into the bloodstream, so proper dilution also protects against potential toxicity. When in doubt, always dilute more than you think you need to.
Conduct a Patch Test
Even the most gentle essential oils can cause sensitization or allergic reactions in some individuals. Because of this, it is extremely important to conduct a patch test before applying oils over larger areas of skin. To do so, dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil based on the age of the child, referring to the chart above. Apply the diluted oil to a bandage and place on the inside of the arm. Wait for 24 hours and then remove the bandage.
If there are any signs of irritation, discontinue use of that oil altogether, including blends that include that oil.
Using Essential oils Aromatically
Diffusing essential oils is usually harmless for children since no oils come into direct contact with the skin. Even so, oils in high concentration may be irritating to children who suffer from asthma or other respiratory problems.
Using Essential Oils Internally
While some adults will take essential oils internally, this is not recommended unless supervised by a health practitioner. Children should never take essential oils internally, even when diluted. Although some essential oils are marketed for internal use, improper use can lead to respiratory problems, vomiting, stomach pain, or seizures.
Safely Storing Essential Oils
Essential oils are extremely concentrated and even one drop is extremely effective. Because of this, they should always be stored safely away from the hands of children. Keep them locked in a medicine cabinet where curious kids can’t get to them.
With proper precautions, essential oils can be used safely around children. Avoid diffusing large amounts of essential oils in a small space, properly dilute them for topical use, and store oils out of the reach of children.
Overall, this is good news for all the parents who are looking to replace some store-bought cleaning products with healthier, homemade alternatives.
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