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)
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
- sore throat
- 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:
- 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 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.
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.
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.