As a precautionary measure, all essential oils, regardless of brand name or quality, should be treated as extremely concentrated chemicals. As such they require a degree of safety and concern when using them on anybody, but especially with infants and small children. When using essential oils on infants and children, it is highly recommended that the oils be diluted with a carrier oil, as discussed in this previous post.
Introducing Essential Oils to Children:
Allergic reactions are not an enjoyable experience for anyone, especially infants and small children. In many cases they are unable to explain the reaction they are having, resorting to screams of pain and agony to inform adults that something is not going according to plan. It is strongly recommended that essential oils be introduced to young children one at a time, and then only sparingly. Do not introduce young children to more than one essential oil per day. This will provide you ample time to observe any allergic reactions the child might experience. If an infant or young child is going to exhibit signs of an allergic reaction to the essential oil being introduced, it will normally become evident within the first 15-20 minutes after topical application or inhalation.
Safe Ages for Essential Oil Use on Children:
For premature babies, as well as newborn infants under the age of 3 months, essential oils should not be used at all, for any reason. The use of essential oils on infants should not be considered until after the 3 month mark for several reasons. The skin of an infant is not yet mature enough to withstand the potential skin sensitivities and reactions that may occur when using essential oils. Because of this we strongly recommend avoiding the use of essential oils on infants until they have reached the 3 month mark past their original due date; this applies to premature babies as well.
3-6 Month Old Children & Essential Oils:
For infant children who are between 3-6 months of age, the recommended maximum amount of essential oil to be used in topical applications is .2% of the dilution recipe. Using this formula essential oils should be diluted using 1-2 drops of the individual oil combined with one fluid ounce of a carrier oil.
Once the child reaches the 6 month mark, the dilution recipe contain no more than .5% of the dilution recipe found at the link above. This formula equates to approximately 3-5 drops of the individual essential oil combined with one fluid ounce of a carrier oil.
Infants and small children, under the age of 6 years old, should NEVER ingest essential oils under any circumstances. Certain individual essential oils, as well as certain essential oil blends, may be toxic if ingested by children. Always research and be knowledgeable about each essential oil’s maximum recommended topical usage before diluting and applying to the skin of children.