Aromatherapy for Children: Expert Tips on Everything You Need to Know

The Basics

Aromatherapy for children is somewhat a complicated topic because there are so many things to consider. The most important thing is safety, of course. But what oils are safe for children? How do you use them? What are the benefits?

When it comes to safety, always err on the side of caution. If you are unsure about an oil, don’t use it. And always consult with a qualified aromatherapist or doctor before using any oils on children under the age of 2.

There are a few general guidelines that can help you choose which oils to use:

    • Avoid using essential oils that are known to be photosensitizing (e.g., citrus oils) before going out into the sun.
    • Avoid using essential oils that are known to be irritants (e.g., mint oils) on children with sensitive skin.
    • Avoid using essential oils that are known to be stimulating (e.g., rosemary oil) before bedtime.

Some of the best essential oils for children that are calming, soothing and good for relaxation include Roman chamomile, lavender, mandarin, and rose. To use essential oils on children, you can:

    • Add a few drops of oil to a nebulizing diffuser and let the child breathe in the vapors.
    • Add a few drops of oil to a warm bath.
    • Add a few drops of oil to a cold compress.
    • Massage the child with a carrier oil that has been mixed with a few drops of essential oil.

When using essential oils on children, always remember to:

    • Use only a small amount of oil.
    • Monitor the child closely for any adverse reactions.
    • Stop using the oil immediately if any adverse reactions occur.

There are many benefits that can be gained from using aromatherapy on children. Aromatherapy can help to soothe and calm children, ease anxiety and stress, improve sleep, and boost mood and energy levels. It can also be used to help children focus and concentrate, and to boost immunity.

If you are thinking about using aromatherapy on children, always consult with a qualified aromatherapist or doctor first to ensure safety and effectiveness.

 

Q&A Interview With Melissa Murray – Certified Aromatherapist and Expert on Childhood Aromatherapy

To this end, we sought deeper insight into this topic and consulted Melissa Murray (CA, HHP, Certified Aromatherapist)

photo of melissa murray

Melissa Murray, CA, HHP is the founder of Airmid Holistics, LLC and the professional crafter and formulator behind the amazing products available at Airmid Holistics. Aromatherapy has been her passion for over 20 years!

She is a NAHA Certified Professional Aromatherapist and graduated from the American College of Healthcare Sciences in 2014 with an Associate’s of Applied Science degree in Complementary Alternative Medicine. She also received a diploma in Aromatherapy, Master Aromatherapist, and a diploma in Holistic Health Practice from the American College of Healthcare Sciences in 2021. During the course of her degree, she studied extensive material on aromatherapy, herbalism, and holistic nutrition.

Along with her membership in the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, she is a Professional Member of the Alliance of International Aromatherapists. Melissa is continually expanding her knowledge about essential oils and their many benefits. She is currently preparing for the Aromatherapy Registration Council’s Registered Aromatherapist exam.

Melissa is a proud Army veteran and served for six years before being honorably discharged. As a disabled veteran, she hopes to be able to expand Airmid Holistics into offering low-cost consultations for fellow veterans who would benefit from aromatherapy to help tackle the unique challenges they face after transitioning to civilian life.

Organic Aromas: Tell us more about your expertise and experience in childhood aromatherapy

Melissa: Aromatherapy has always fascinated me and after years of dabbling with essential oils for my own personal wellness I began my path to becoming a certified aromatherapist and holistic health practitioner. I received my Associates degree in Complementary Alternative Medicine from the American College of Healthcare Sciences almost ten years ago and have completed extensive educational training in aromatherapy, herbalism, and holistic nutrition. I delved deeper into aromatherapy with my Master Aromatherapist’s diploma and continued on in my education to focus a significant portion of my time on studying the safe use of essential oils in children.

Why did you create a solution that delivers aromatherapy for children?

I began to notice a need for aromatherapy related products suitable for children. The misinformation that surrounds the safe practice of using essential oils for children (and adults!) is overwhelming on the Internet. I felt that if parents could have a trusted source to go to, they could feel more at ease using aromatherapy for their little ones. It was my way to take the guesswork out of aromatherapy for them.

Explain to us how aromatherapy works in children

Essential oils, when used aromatically, enter the body via the nostrils. From there they travel to the olfactory system, the part of the body responsible for our sense of smell. This triggers a response in the limbic system, the emotional center of the brain responsible for controlling heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, memories, and stress levels. Have you ever had a certain smell trigger a long-buried memory? This is why! Molecules are also carried to the lungs and can interact with the respiratory system. When used topically, essential oils pass through the layers of the skin to enter the body. Their active chemical components are absorbed just like common topical pharmaceuticals you may use.

Aromatherapy is generally considered safe when done properly. What does it mean to practice aromatherapy safely in children? Essential oils need to be diluted in carrier oils such as olive oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, etc. at a dilution rate safe for the intended user. With children, this means a dilution much lower than for an adult. We also need to take into consideration the type of essential oil we are using.

Some essential oils that are safe for adults to use shouldn’t be used with children, especially small children. For children under five years old, hydrosols are recommended. Most importantly, essential oils should never be applied ‘neat’, or undiluted, to the skin. Hydrosols are a great way to introduce children to the benefits of aromatherapy as they can be used ‘neat’ without any risk of irritation.

A hydrosol is a by-product of the distillation process used to create essential oils. Hydrosols contain all the water-soluble parts of the plant that are not captured in the essential oil. They are sometimes also referred to as floral waters or flower waters. Rosewater is perhaps the most well-known hydrosol. While hydrosols do not have the concentrated properties of essential oils, they can still be very beneficial and are much less likely to cause skin irritation.

When using hydrosols on children, always do a patch test first and dilute the hydrosol with water if necessary. Avoid using strong-smelling hydrosols on young children as they may be overwhelming. Try lavender or chamomile hydrosols instead.

What are some of the most common childhood ailments that can be treated using aromatherapy?

A few of the most common childhood complaints that can be helped with aromatherapy are:

    • colds and flu
    • congestion
    • sore throat
    • coughing
    • stomach bugs
    • headaches and migraines
    • anxiety and stress
    • trouble sleeping or insomnia
    • skin irritations such as eczema or cradle cap

There are a few safety considerations to take into account when using essential oils with children. The most important one is to always, always, always dilute your essential oils in a carrier oil before using them topically on children. A good rule of thumb is a 2% dilution for children ages 2-6 and a 3% dilution for children 6+.

Another safety consideration is to avoid using certain essential oils with young children altogether. This is due to their high concentration of certain compounds that can be irritating or harmful to small bodies. Examples of essential oils to avoid using with children under the age of 10 include but are not limited to:

    1. Eucalyptus
    2. Peppermint
    3. Rosemary
    4. Lemongrass
    5. Cinnamon
    6. Thyme
    7. Clove
    8. Tea tree oil

Lavender oil should also be avoided on children under the age of 2 due to its potential to cause skin irritation.

Share your final thoughts on this topic

Remember, just because essential oils are all natural, does not mean they are ‘all safe’! Children are far more sensitive than adults. If you are DIYing a blend for your children, go to a trusted source like a certified aromatherapist to answer your questions (you can find them in a free database on the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy’s website) and do your due diligence in research.

Do follow the recommended dilution ratios and do NOT apply essential oils undiluted to the skin. Also, check that the oil you are choosing is safe for little ones. Some essential oils are not recommended for young children and can in fact be potentially dangerous. If you prefer to take the guesswork out of your blends, look for pre-made topical blends and diffuser blends made specifically for children. Aromatherapy is an amazing natural way to support wellness for both you AND your child! For more insights, visit AirmidHolistics.com.

aromatherapy for children infographic

The Statistics

Aromatherapy for children is gaining ground as a complementary therapy with a study published in the International Journal of Aromatherapy finding that 20% of parents surveyed had used aromatherapy on their children. The most common reasons given were for relaxation (60%), respiratory problems (50%), skin complaints (42%) and sleep difficulties (39%). The majority of parents said they were satisfied with the results achieved (84%).

Aromatherapy was found to be particularly helpful for children with eczema, ADHD and autism with parents reporting significant improvements in symptoms.

aromatherapy and children graphs

Organic Aromas Survey of Aromatherapy for Children

We decided to conduct our own survey to see the trends in childhood aromatherapy. Our survey targeted 200 parents (28 to 54 years) in the United States who have used essential oils on their children. Our findings were particularly interesting:

75% of respondents stated that they have used lavender essential oil on their children. Rose, lemon, and Roman chamomile consecutively ranked as the most used oils by parents after lavender in our survey. 90% of respondents stated that aromatherapy for their children worked for them. 87% said that their children enjoyed aromatherapy, with 37% of respondents saying that they administered the oils through a diffuser. 35% used topical application while 28% used a bath to deliver aromatherapy to their children. 91% of those surveyed said that they would recommend aromatherapy for children to other parents.

 


Conclusion

Children are certainly vulnerable to all manner of childhood ailments and parents are always looking for ways to soothe and ease their children’s sufferings. Aromatherapy has been shown to be helpful for many common childhood complaints and our survey found that parents who have used essential oils on their children are generally satisfied with the results. Remember, safety is always the key word when using essential oils on children. Always follow the recommended guidelines for dilution and never apply essential oils undiluted to the skin. With a little care and attention, aromatherapy can be a wonderful way to support your child’s health and wellbeing.

Organic Aromas would like to thank Melissa for her insights into this topic. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us, or share your thoughts on the comments section below.


 

268 thoughts on “Aromatherapy for Children: Expert Tips on Everything You Need to Know

  1. Lacey Waters says:

    i really wish this had been more mainstream when my children were young. our aromatherapy started and ended with vaporub! this is so much better.

  2. sheila ressel says:

    Great tips. I don’t have children but will be passing this information along to my sister-in-law for her little ones.

  3. Penelope Garland says:

    Lavender is such a wonderful calming scent, and like everything, you need to be mindful of quantities when using with kids.

  4. Amber Lee Kolb says:

    We love using Lavendar in the evenings! That’s the only one we really use right now and I’m so excited to learn about others.

  5. Joana B says:

    I have always suffered a lot from colds and sore throat and cough so i think i will start implementing this method! Thanks for the info!

  6. jade jones says:

    Very interesting info I’ve struggled previously to find reliable info on the use of aromatherapy in children thank you

  7. Leah A says:

    I don’t have kids, but it’s always good to know these things because we do use essential oils at home. Mostly for the diffuser, but still. 🙂

  8. Monica Mount says:

    I had no idea citrus oils should not be applied prior to going in the sun! Thank you for so much helpful information on not just the benefits of essential oils but the dangers also.

  9. Pamela Chambers says:

    Amazing and really helpful article. I think Aromatherapy is a wonderful idea for kids…. for sleep, relaxation, focus, clarity, etc. More people need to look into it!

  10. Jeanette Swift says:

    Wow Wee, what an interesting read with so many facts and helpful idea’s and I thought I knew quite a bit. You are never too old to learn more!

  11. Frank Stuart says:

    Having taught in the public schools for over 25 years, I learned the calming effect that aroma therapy in connection with “mood music” can have on children. I can relate to much of the information presented in this blog.

  12. Melissa Corcoran says:

    aroma theropy is good for everyone! who doesnt love good smells? our memories are even ingrained in us through smalls scents and pheromones. life prospers in aroma rich places. i hope to win so i can use some of the prize to get more good aromas in my living areas of my home.

  13. Bev says:

    I work at a school, and anxiety levels in children are so much higher ever since COVID. This sounds like a wonderful option to help these kids.

  14. Jamie Johnson says:

    My sister has always used essential oils with her 4 kids, so that’s good enough for me! Just make sure ALL essential oils are out of areas that children can reach. Thx for these tips!

  15. Mary Rodowicz says:

    Would DEFINITELY not use rosemary before bedtime lol always lavender ! Ty for all the great info on citrus 🍊 and different scents and different side effects one can have ,never knew citrus in children would cause photosensitivity !

  16. Crystal Marie Cañete says:

    I made a mistake once about rubbing mint oil on my kid and it’s never gonna happen again. This one here truly adds more insight into my knowledge of aromatherapy for children. Thanks.

  17. Claudf says:

    So important to know that not all “natural products” are safe for everyone. It’s important to research as they aren’t regulated like other products

  18. Robert Torres says:

    Very informative. Children today deal with so much peer pressure and anxiety. They can definitely benefit from aromatherapy.

  19. Jennifer Quill says:

    My son really liked having a diffuser in his room with Lavender oil at night. He chose to stop using it but he can be sensitive to smell and taste.

  20. Victor Eggenberger says:

    I love learning about new therapies that could help kids. My 6 year old suffers from nose congestion and probably will have issues with sinuses. I am looking into alternative treatments and glad to find this information.

  21. Felicia Costin says:

    Very interesting information. My son has very sensitive skin so will have to try some different aromatherapy options. I did not know lavender could be irritating for very young children.

  22. Jonathan W says:

    We certainly started carefully, but now our kids apply oils from rollers themselves! Lavender Lemon and Peppermint are especially effective together.

  23. gloria patterson says:

    going to share this with my niece who has a 5 yr old daughter. Zay was spending the day with me and she was all stuffed up and would not have anything to do with Vicks. Well as a lot of taking she let me take eucalyptus oil and place in on the inside of her shirt. Showed her how to pull it up over and nose and take a deep breath. Send a bottle home with her mother and they used it several times. In the middle of the night she woke her mother up and said she need that stuff on her shirt. It has been over a year and she still ask for the oil when she need s it

  24. Luis Mathews says:

    It is all about knowing what essential oils are good for kids and about how to administer them. This was a nice read!

  25. Sharon Rooney says:

    Great information on what oils not to use on/with children. I would have thought Lavender would have been a good one to use but now I know you shouldn’t use it on children under 2.

  26. Alexa Nernberg says:

    I wish I had known about the use of essential oils when my children were young. I could have perhaps used essential oils to help with their focusing and concentration, as well as easing their headaches and migraines.

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