Essential oils can be useful for many different things, such as filling your home with wonderful scents or relieving an overworked muscle.
But although essential oils are derived from natural sources, you will want to use caution before using them on your baby. In fact, if you’ve wondered if essential oils are safe for your baby, the answer is usually no—and here’s why.
In this article:
Are Essential Oils Safe for Babies?
The short answer is usually no. Although there are some ways that essential oils can be used in kids, in general, it’s best to avoid using them on babies.
Essential oils are the natural extracts from plants and flowers, but are very concentrated, which is why they come in small amounts. That’s also why they can be dangerous to babies and children—even a small amount can be very powerful.
The tricky part about essential oils is that they’re not regulated by the FDA (as is the case with most “natural” products), so there’s no guarantee to know what’s in the essential oil you’re buying.
Additionally, there’s not a lot of research on the safety of essential oils and babies, so we can’t say for sure if they’re safe.
“There is not a lot of research on the safety of essential oils and babies, so we can’t say for sure if they’re safe."
Essential Oils that Are Safe for Babies
There are no specific essentials oils that are recommended for use on babies and they should never be used in babies under 6 months old.
There may be some benefits in using an essential oil for an infant massage or as aromatherapy. For instance, one 2016 study, published by the journal Breastfeeding Medicine, did observe some increased pain tolerance in infants who smelled lavender essential oil. (Remember: even diffusing can’t be used in babies younger than 6 months old.)
However, you should always speak with your child’s pediatrician about the use of any essential oils—whether you’re considering diffusing them or using them on your baby’s skin.
It’s also important to realize that no essential oil is safe for kids or babies in undiluted form. These oils are incredibly potent and should always be diluted before use, according to John Hopkins All Children.
How to Use Essential Oils in Babies
If your baby’s pediatrician gives you the OK to use essential oils with your baby, you’ll have to dilute whatever oil you use.
Dilution simply means that you add 1-2 drops of pure essential oil into a carrier oil. For instance, many people add essential oil to a carrier oil such as coconut or avocado oil.
Each essential oil has a unique ratio for oil to carrier dilution so it is important to research each new essential oil before using it with your child. Undiluted essential oil scan cause skin irritation, respiratory problems, and even accidental poisoning in children.
“Undiluted essential oils can cause skin irritation, respiratory problems, and even accidental poisoning in children."
Essential Oils that are Dangerous to Babies
Again, while any essential oil—and especially any undiluted essential oil—can be dangerous to babies, the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy notes that the following oils can be especially dangerous:
- Cinnamon bark
- Lemon verbena
- Clove bud
Essential oil safety
Parents should also be aware of some basic essential oil safety in the home, which include:
- Do not use essentials oils for an extended period of time without talking to a trained healthcare provider.
- Never ingest essential oils, diluted or otherwise.
- Don’t use essential oils on or near eyes.
- Do not diffuse essential oils in the rooms of babies 6 months old or younger.
When to See a Doctor
If you’re considering using an essential oil to treat your baby’s symptoms, it’s important that you always consult your doctor first. Trying to treat your baby at home with an essential oil may not only delay treatment they actually need, but it could make your baby’s symptoms worse.
Symptoms to watch for
Always call doctor if your baby:
- Has a temperature of 100.4° F or higher (under 3 months) or 102.2°F or higher (over 3 months)
- Is dehydrated
- Is lethargic, not alert, or has any change in consciousness.
- Is struggling to breathe
If your baby does get exposed to essential oils and has any type of reaction—including struggling to breathe, a rash, or any other symptoms—you should also seek immediate medical attention.
There isn’t enough research to determine if essential oils are safe for babies.
There are, however, known risks to using essential oils in babies, so you should never use them on or around babies without speaking to a pediatrician.
Frequently Asked Questions
What essential oils are bad for babies?
Any essential oil, especially undiluted, can be dangerous for babies. According to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, birch, wintergreen, eucalyptus, and peppermint can be especially harmful.
Are essential oil diffusers safe for babies?
There isn’t a lot of research on if oil diffusers are safe for babies. However, one medical doctor told The New York Times that diffusers should not be used around babies 6 months old or younger.
What oil is safe for babies?
There isn’t enough evidence to say that any essential oils are safe for use with babies. You should always speak with a healthcare professional before using any essential oils on babies.
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