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Essential oils for children

by Naturopathes de La Boite à Grains 05 Jun 2024
Les huiles essentielles chez les enfants - La Boite à Grains

Essential oils are among the most popular natural health remedies. However, many parents receive warnings about their use with children. We'd like to ask the following question: Are there safe and healthy ways to use essential oils on children?

Can essential oils be used to treat children?

Produced by extraction or distillation, essential oils are highly concentrated therapeutic plant essences. Due to their high concentration of therapeutic molecules, essential oils are generally not recommended for young children. They should be kept out of their reach, in a high cabinet. It is wise to avoid using essential oils on children under the age of three, or to follow the recommendations of a certified aromatherapist for use before that age.

Which essential oils should be used on children?

As essential oils should be used with extreme caution on young children, choosing the most appropriate oils can be a daunting task. Christine Gratton, aromatherapist and practitioner of scientific aromatherapy, recommends the following essential oils for little ones:  

True lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) : Very safe, this essential oil is generally well tolerated by children. Calming and sedative, its enchanting floral scent has properties that relieve excitement and restlessness. Many parents spray lavender mist on their children's pillows to promote better sleep.  

Mandarin orange (Citrus reticulata) : Citrus essential oils are considered gentle and safe for small, developing beings. Calming and relaxing, mandarin essential oil moderates the central nervous system, promoting better management of emotions, energy and concentration. It also facilitates sleep. This is why it is often used in conjunction with True Lavender essential oil. Beware of sun exposure, however, as mandarin essential oil makes the skin more photosensitive.

Lavender aspic (Lavandula spica) No child is immune to injuries and boo-boos. That's why it's highly recommended to always have a bottle of lavender aspic essential oil on hand. Healing and analgesic, this essential oil soothes cuts, scrapes, burns and insect bites in no time. It also calms the nervous system, helping children remain calm in the event of injury.

Eucalyptus radiata (Eucalyptus radiata) Eucalyptus radiata essential oil is used to soothe secretions, decongest the respiratory tract, stimulate the immune system and combat viruses and bacteria. When diffused, eucalyptus radiata essential oil purifies the air thanks to its bactericidal properties. It's an excellent way to disinfect a sick child's room during flu or cold season, and prevent the spread of viruses.

Hô wood Made by distilling the wood of the camphor tree, Hô wood essential oil has a strong camphor odor, making it an effective remedy for viruses, bacteria and fungal infections. As this oil is well tolerated by the skin, it can be used to massage the chest effectively and gently for colds and other respiratory ailments.

How to administer essential oils to young children

Two main methods are recommended for administering essential oils to children: diffusion and topical application (on the skin).


Essential oils are diffused with the help of a diffuser. In addition to spreading pleasant scents, this method purifies the air, destroys surrounding microbes and distributes negative ions throughout the room. To diffuse essential oils safely in the presence of children, follow these precautions:

Avoid diffusing essential oils on children aged 0 to 3 months.

For children aged two and under, the diffusion time should be limited to 5 minutes per day in the same room. Babies should never be in a room where essential oils are being diffused, and the door should be open to allow ventilation.

For children aged two and over, the diffusion time can be up to 10 minutes per day in the same room. The room can be kept closed for maximum effectiveness, as long as the toddler is not in the room at the time of diffusion.

Direct application

To use essential oils directly on the skin, they must first be tested on a small area. The inside of the wrist is generally recommended. Simply place a drop of essential oil directly on the skin and wait 15 minutes. If the skin does not develop redness or itching, this essential oil is considered safe for topical application. However, care should be taken to dilute the essential oil in a base oil such as jojoba oil, sweet almond oil or coconut oil. In general, a ratio of 5 drops of essential oil per tablespoon of base oil is recommended. Please note that some essential oils are photosensitizing and may therefore increase the risk of sunburn. This is particularly true of citrus essential oils, which should not be applied to the skin 12 hours before exposure to the sun.

Remember that essential oils are highly concentrated essences and should therefore be used with caution, especially by children. If in doubt, contact a manufacturer or a certified aromatherapist. The team of consultants at La Boite à Grains team of advisors is also available to help you make the right essential oil choices for your family.

We wish you good health!

About the author

Naturopaths of La Boite à Grains

Team of licensed and certified naturopaths (ND) in Gatineau, Outaouais.

Original article written by Véronique Cousineau, Naturopath

Contributor: Christine Gratton, Aromatherapist



Christine Gratton, aromatherapist and scientific aromatherapy practitioner.

Soins à mon enfant, Céline Arsenault. Éditions Le Dauphin Blanc. 2003.


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