Aromatherapy & Children - Safety & Quality Matter

aromatherapy child safety holistic wellness safety Sep 10, 2022

What is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to support health and wellness. Therefore, we must understand the nature of essential oils to apply aromatherapy properly. 
Essential oils are aromatic, volatile liquids containing the chemical constituents that are the essence of the plant. They can come from bushes, trees, leaves, roots, flowers, and even the rind of fruits! 
It’s important to understand that essential oils are NOT the same as fatty oils as you would think of cooking with, although essential oils and fatty oils (carrier oils) can work together to improve the experience of use. 

 Aromatherapy Safety with Children 

Aromatherapy is a great tool to use for children’s health and wellness. Unfortunately, essential oils have been marketed as safe for any concern, and for children, a little essential oil goes a long way. 

Diluting the essential oil into an organic plant-based carrier oil is recommended for application on the body. For babies, you may do a trace of this dilution on the soles of the feet or as a comforting massage. Add one drop of essential oil to one ounce of carrier oil. You can increase the essential oil drops according to the child's body weight. If the skin gets red or irritated, stop using and apply olive oil over the area.  
Consider doing a skin test before using aromatherapy to ensure no sensitivities - this can be done on the feet soles or the elbow crook.

Essential Oils in a Bath
Always use an emulsifier if adding essential oil to the bath. One drop of essential oil to a tablespoon of an emulsifier such as sea salt, bath gel, or milk will go a long way in the tub.  I have heard of parents sprinkling oils into the bathwater.  Do Not Do This – it can cause burning to the skin.  Oil and water do not mix, so you need an emulsifier for the bath.

Diffusion is a beautiful way to use oils with children.  During cold and flu season, consider diffusing oils such as tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) or orange (Citrus sinesis) to keep their immune system healthy and balanced.  Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) oil is good to diffuse any sleep concerns. Floral essential oils such as lavender can promote a calm and happy feeling.  Diffuse lemon (Citrus limon) or spearmint (Mentha spicata) to help focus and concentrate for school studies.

Inhalation can be achieved through a personal inhaler (inhaler stick, tissue with an essential oil or blend) or diffusion. A deep inhalation is not recommended for younger children or if breathing difficulties occur, although diffusion is generally ok. This is the fastest way to introduce the aromatherapy benefits into the system.

Essential Oils to Use with Children

Children prefer the aroma of citrus oil, such as orange and lemon oils, which can be uplifting. However, caution with using some citrus, such as lemon, on the skin and exposure to UV light  can cause burning and skin discoloration. 
To use essential oils with your children, it’s important to understand quality and labeling standards. Any oil can be labeled as “therapeutic grade” because there is no standard for labeling. Purity is also an issue because if 5-10% of essential oil is in the bottle, it can be labeled as “pure” in the U.S. Quality and purity can significantly impact the results you see in your practice.


This blog is provided for educational and informational purposes only and is not medical, mental health, or healthcare advice.  Although Debra Reis is a Clinical Nurse Specialist licensed in the state of Michigan, she is not acting in that capacity here. Debra Reis is acting as a holistic educator and consultant, not as a licensed medical health professional or in her professional capacity as a Clinical Nurse Specialist. The information presented here is not intended to diagnose, treat, heal, cure or prevent any illness, medical condition, or mental or emotional condition. Working with us is not a guarantee of any results. Debra Reis, Wellness Services, LLC owns all copyrights to the materials presented here unless otherwise noted.

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