Essential Oils that are Safe for Babies and Children

Essential oils are wonderful to use for babies and children – they help support their delicate, developing immune systems and are safe to use as they work synergistically with the body to promote wellness. Here is a guide on which oils are effective and safe for sweet little ones!

Essential Oils that are Safe for Babies and Children

Even though I attempted natural birth with my first son (read the crazy story of how it went down here!), I wasn’t living a natural life at home. The pantry was full of food that was definitely not real, I had toxic cleaning products galore, and thought Febreeze was safe and healthy. I’ve come a long way… So, naturally, I had never once heard of using essential oils for my new son and resorted to using very unnatural things whenever Gabriel wasn’t feeling well (read why I steer clear of those things here). Now my kids all know what I’m gonna do when I pull out my oils – give me your feet, kids! At first, I didn’t use them correctly and my kids got some small rashes because I wasn’t diluting it properly. Now I know better and using high quality oils like Young Living has helped a lot. They are now a staple in my household and we use them daily, which has worked very well to keep us healthy and well!

This guide refers to children from newborns to five years old. Are you brand-new to essential oils? Then I suggest starting here, with my Essential Oils 101 article.

Most Common Oils Used for Babies

  • Lavender
  • Cedarwood
  • Melaleuca Alternifolia (aka Tea Tree Oil)
  • Roman Chamomile
  • German Chamomile
  • Sandalwood
  • Marjoram
  • Frankincense
  • Lemon
  • Citrus Fresh (a blended oil)
  • Purification

Click here to buy high quality essential oils!

Proper Essential Oil Dilution for Babies and Children

Proper Dilution

Dilution is important when it comes to babies as they are so small and the oils are strong – a little goes a long way. Not that they are something to be feared, but just have a healthy respect for them.

This is where I recommend starting: 1-3 drops essential oil to 1 tablespoon carrier oil. If you’re finding this dilution ratio isn’t effective for your baby, then increase the amount of essential oils you’re using by a few drops and continue from there.

Frequency

For general immune support, just 1-2 times a day or less is good. I’ve even found that when I use oils right after we’ve been somewhere where I think they’ve picked up germs, they stay well with just 1-2 applications afterwards.

When their immune systems need more support, I apply the oils 2-4 times a day. Essential oils metabolize in the body in 2 1/2 to 3 hours, so you can technically apply that often.

My Favorite Carrier Oils

Carrier oils are fatty oils that are totally different than essential oils. They help to “carry” the oil over the skin. This helps to reduce irritation (as essential oils are drying and some can irritate if they are not diluted) and makes your oils go further!

Common Oil Uses for Babies

Note: Roman Chamomile is gentler than German, so it is best suited for newborns and infants.

Immune Support

  • Recommended Oils: Lavender, Frankincense, Lemon
  • Use topically by diluting 1-3 drops in 1 tablespoon of carrier oil of choice and massage on the Vita Flex points on the bottoms of the feet, 2 to 4 times a day when needed.

Digestion Support

  • Recommended Oils: Fennel, German Chamomile, Melissa, or Marjoram
  • Use topically by diluting 1-3 drops in 1 tablespoon carrier oil of choice, and massage a small amount gently on stomach and back

Respiratory Support

  • Recommended Oils: Thyme or Lemon
  • Diffuse with an aromatherapy diffuser
  • Dilute 1-3 drops in 1 tablespoon carrier oil and massage a little on neck and chest

Crying

  • Recommended Oils: Ylang ylang, Lavender, or Roman Chamomile
  • Diffuse with an aromatherapy diffuser
  • Dilute 1-3 drops in 1 tablespoon carrier oil and massage a little on neck and chest

Diaper Area

  • Recommended Oils: Lavender (This really works for us! I get a tablespoon or so of my homemade diaper rash cream and add 1 drop of lavender to it, then rub on.)
  • Dilute 1-3 drops in 1 tablespoon of carrier oil of choice or buy KidScents Tender Tush from Young Living

For Happy Ears

  • Recommended Oils: Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree Oil), Cedarwood, or Frankincense
  • Put a dilute drop of oil on a cotton ball and place in the ear (but do NOT put the oil itself directly in the ear), rub diluted oil behind ear (1-3 drops in 1 tablespoon of carrier oil)

For Healthy Skin

  • Recommended Oils: Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Rose, or Sandalwood
  • Dilute 1-3 drops in 1 tablespoon carrier oil and apply where needed

Teething

  • Recommended Oils: Lavender, German Chamomile, Ginger, Marjoram, Melaleuca
  • Dilute and apply a small amount to feet

To actually rub on the teeth, see my post here for a homemade teething oil and other homeopathic relief for teething.

Essential Oils to Use for Kids When They Need Immune Support

 

Interested in more posts on essential oils? Click here to see all of them!

How to Purchase High Quality Essential Oils through My Merry Messy Life

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About Sara McFall

Sara is the owner and founder of My Merry Messy Life, which started in 2011 as a way to chronicle her journey to a natural, chemical-free lifestyle and to share her passions of mothering, real food, homeschooling and crochet. She is a mama to three precious and energetic little boys and wife to a university professor who loves to sing, dance ballet and ballroom, and live simply and naturally.

Comments

  1. Really good to know the proper dilution amounts… I’d been giving my daughter a rash for a bit before I finally figured out what I was doing wrong! Thanks Sara!

  2. Hi! Thanks so much for this post! I have a 7-year old and an almost 3-year old. I try to stay up to date on the essential oils that are safe for children, however I recently came across a discussion debating whether Eucalyptus is safe for children under 5. I realize there is occasionally disagreements concerning methods of application, etc. but it’s so important to know what’s safe for our little ones! Thanks again!

    • So glad it helped, Tracy! Yes, I have read that Eucalyptus can be dangerous for children as it has slowed their breathing in some cases. I’d advise against it. Lemon and Lavender can do the same job. Thyme is safe, too, and that’s very powerful against bacteria and viruses!

      • Doesn’t Thieves have Eucalyptus in it?

        • Yes, it does. That was a typo, not sure how to fix it. But, yes, Thieves is really not safe for very young children, ages 5 and under or so. Some even advise up to age 10!

          • Can you use thieves on babies (mine is 20 mos old) if you dilute it? I have read on another post you can, but just want to make sure! I am new to these oils! Thanks!

            • Thieves is a strong oil and I LOVE IT – works for my family all the time to get rid of the cruddy stuff. At first I was scared to use it because many said it was too strong for kids under 5 or 8 (according to some faulty studies that were done), so I started using it slowly and only when they were awake so I could watch for any reactions. The only issue my kids have had with it is skin irritation, and that is easily solved with diluting it with more carrier oil. But more conservative oil users don’t use Thieves on babies. There are so many oils out there that work that are considered safe by EVERYONE to use on babies, so I say do what you feel comfortable doing.

              • I’m totally new to this and kinda freaked out that some oils are harmful and dangerous for babies/children. I only have lavender and peppermint right now, what baby/child safe starter kits would you recommend? Is using peppermint in a diffuser also harmful/dangerous for babies/children? I want to use my diffuser and oils to help my kids and I thoughout our day to focus, calming, etc. as we homeschool.
                Thanks! 🙂

                • Hi Jen! I would suggest you purchase the book, Gentle Babies on Amazon. It’s a guide to safe essential oil baby usage. I’d hate for you to be scared to use oils on babies! I’m way more scared to use medications on my babies than oils. I’ve yet for any of my 3 kids to have a bad reaction to oils – the only thing I messed up on was not using carrier oil in the beginning for oils like peppermint or Thieves and it irritated their skin. Young Living does have a kit just for kids and oils for them called KidScents. I LOVE those oils and use them on my kids all the time!

              • Hey! I’m new to YL – I recently bought the starter kit and learning step by step. Could I diffuse RC and/or Thieves in my 2 1/2 year old’s room when he needs respiratory support?

                • Hi there! Yes, I think you can, but I am not an expert. I diffuser RC and Thieves in my kids’ rooms every night, and they are 5 months, 3, 5, and 7 and I’ve been doing that for 2 years! But as with anyone, test it out first and keep an eye on your son just to make sure his body handles it okay.

          • You may want to make the correction on the image, as many don’t read through the thread.

  3. Thanks for this info! Very helpful. With the carrier oils, I see that the castor oil you recommended is not an organic product. Have you noticed whether that makes a difference? My son and I have very sensitive skin and I wondered whether it is necessary to buy organic. Thanks again!

  4. I feel like I have a cold coming on. I assume it is not safe to diffuse thieves oil with a 3 1/2 month old in the house? Any information on using it while breastfeeding?

    • It’d probably be best not to diffuse it while your baby’s in the room. I’d do it in my own bedroom at night, unless the baby’s in there with you. Yes, there are lots of other oils that can help that don’t contain Eucalyptus! Lavender, lemon, frankincense, thyme, marjoram, melaleuca, Melrose, Purification…just to name a few!

  5. Just found your blog, so much helpful info regarding oils! I bought my kit about a year ago but feel like I’ve never fully known how to really use them all in the right ways…especially when it comes to my 3 month old baby! For instance, I had no clue I couldn’t diffuse thieves with him in the room! Sometimes I feel like the world of essential oils is clouded in so much information and it is so difficult to sift through to find what I really need. So this consise & straightforward list is just what I needed! Thank you!

    What do you suggest for sleep for babies? My son sleeps pretty well through the night, but never naps for longer than 45 min at a time. Would diffusing something in the room during his naps potentially help? Is it harmful to diffuse oils for long periods of time like that?

  6. I’m just starting to dip my toes into EO’s…just got my kit today actually! I’ve been trying to read as much as I can, so a couple of questions. Is thieves ok to diffuse in general around children?! My diffuser is in my kitchen, and can reach most of the house, except for the kids rooms. Also, can you mix up some of these (carrier + eo) ahead of time?! Or do you have to do it each time you want to use it?!

    thanks 🙂

    • Hi Ashley! Thieves is debatable – some diffuse it around kids and use it on them with no problems at all (like me), others like to use a more conservative approach and avoid peppermint and eucalyptus until age 5 or so. If you use a brand other than Young Living, you have to be especially careful. And yes, you can mix up solutions ahead of time. They last forever!

  7. Hi, I just found your blog and was wondering if you could tell me if it would be okay to diffuse RC in my house with my 5 month old baby. I was also curious if it was safe to put diluted RC on my 3 year old?

    • Hi Brandi! This is a matter of preference and a controversial issue. Many people I know use R.C. on their smaller kids (like 2 and up) but some don’t because of the eucalyptus. It is very strong, but that’s why it works so well. There was one study done where eucalyptus and peppermint caused the breathing to slow in some of the children, but they were using fragrance-grade oils, which don’t come close to comparing with YL’s quality. So, I’m not sure what to think and use it mostly during the day with my young kid so I can monitor them. They’ve never had a bad reaction.

  8. I’m new to oils, so wondering what are some ways to apply the oil? I find it difficult & messy to try to dilute the right amount of drops in the right amount of carrier oil, then effectively apply enough on my squirmy toddler in hopes she got enough to be effective! Doesn’t help that I’m a perfectionist and clean freak.

  9. So I’m just reading on previous post that diffusing thieves oil is probably not a good idea with my 7 month old baby. I’ve only done it a handful of times around her, but will find an alternative next time. She’s never had any issues, but I’ve also never really kept it in close proximity to her. But would you say that diffusing lavender in her room during nap/bedtime would be safe??

    • This is controversial – I personally think diffusing it is just fine, but would be careful applying it to her unless it’s during the day and you can keep a close watch on her. Lavender at nap/bedtime is very safe, so is lemon, Stress Away, tea tree, cedarwood, frankincense and lots more!

  10. How about Bergamot and orange? I tried diffusing a blend that I love, but it includes Bergamot and orange which you don’t list as safe and well…my 4 month old is nearly always in whatever room we are in. I did read somewhere else that both are fine for 6+ months.

  11. PS. I tried to sign up for the ebook and your 4 part essential oil education, but did not receive a response yet. I am falling down the essential oil rabbit hole slowly, just not ready to choose between therapeutic grade companies.

    • Hi Tara! It’s probably because you have to confirm your account still. I can do that manually for you so you can receive the emails. You would’ve received an email from me asking you to confirm your subscription.

  12. Can u help. Would essential oils work for tantrums and naughtiness? Not sleeping well? Age 2 1/2.?

  13. Hi Sara,
    I am very new to EO’s and was wondering if I could diffuse either lemongrass or patcholi oils with a 6mo old in the house? Thanks.

  14. Hi. Just found this on Pinterest and there is so much I see shared. I’m into YL and love the oils and it all. My ? Is if my daughter is 2.5 what is the Best oil to diffuse. I believe I did Theives but, not she’s sleeping with me. So I don’t remember if it was before the sleeping with me or not. I have diffused it in the house. She seems to b stuffy n I am hoping to hold off the cold. Can u please advice me. I am looking into your blog too. Just wish more people listened to testimonies of EO. I have found they are amazing n add to any life. The organic thing I followed for food. But when I started this new lifestyle my husband pointed out skin is our biggest organ. So it should b organic oil. Thanks for great dis here.

  15. Hi,if my little one has a sinus issue with a cough, can I mix lavender and lemon to rub on their chest or would you recommend a different avenue? Thanks!

    • I think that sounds great! The oils that support the respiratory system that are safe for little ones include frankincense, cedarwood, lemon, tea tree, lavender, lemon, and a blend by Young Living, R.C.

  16. I have a 3 week old son that has gas like crazy! Im trying to get in the whole oil thing but dont really know how to use or really what to use for the case! This was good info! 🙂 what could I use for gas? He has gas terribly bad! My 2 year old never really had gas ..

  17. I agree that oils are awesome. We use ones that are USDA cert. Organic and I feel more comfortable knowing they are that much more safe.

  18. Hi Sara
    I have a 7 year old who has temper tantrums do u know of any oils to help with it?
    Toni recently posted..Essential Oils for Love, Romance and BeautyMy Profile

  19. Hello! I’m just wondering about rosemary oil? I know it is used in Purification blends, but I have read in multiple places that rosemary shouldn’t be used around kids 10 and under. Have you found this to be true as well? I see that Purification is on your list of things okay to use on children, so I wasn’t sure if I’m misinformed or it was overlooked. I’m trying to find a good blend to clear out the stuffiness smell in my home!

    • Hi Miranda! There are many different opinions on safety with children, and some I have found to be extremely cautious and even scared to use essential oils on children. I have used Purification and Thieves on all three of my littles for two years now without a single problem, except when I don’t dilute enough and it irritates their skin. I’m very careful not to get the oils around the eyes or faces, and keep the stronger oils like Thieves, only on the bottoms of the feet. They work very well that way!

  20. Christina says:

    Hi Sara, Im new to EO. I have an almost 5 year old daughter (her name is Sara) who has a severe anxiety disorder, ive used lavender oil to help her sleep at night and it has worked wonders for us, ive just recently become a member of young living( waiting for my kit to arrive) and would like to introduce oils as a part of our everyday life. Im looking for an oil or combo of oils to help my daughter with her anxiety, something i can put on her before school/ social settings. She has a severe case of Selective Mutism and Ive heard EO’s have been very effective with kids with SM Do you know of a formula I can use?

    • Hi Christina! I’ve not heard of SM before…but I do know that in the starter kit you’re getting, there are quite a few oils that are great for relaxation and for the brain – lavender (like you’re already using), frankincense, lemon and Stress Away. Others I’d suggest that aren’t in the kit include Tranquil roll on (my son loves that he struggles with occasional nervous tension), and Cedarwood.

  21. Hi Sara, I have a 15 months old boy and if I want to boost his immune system, shall I mix Lavender, Frankincense and Lemon together (as he is too small for Thieves) in a roller bottle and apply to his feet? especially before/after playgroup?
    Also, what to apply to kill the bacteria at his age?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Peggy! Yes, I think that will be great for immune system support – what you mentioned in the roller ball. I would do that twice a day. And you can diffuse any of those oils at night, too, that REALLY helps my kids. I would use Tea Tree oil for the cleansings germs.

  22. Thanks Sara, I’m new to EO and not sure what is safe/unsafe for my toddler until reading your blog, that’s really helpful! Shall I make a Tea Tree oil spray to cleanse the germs then? If yes, how to make it?
    Thanks much!

    • Yes, that would work well! You just need a 2 or 4 ounce glass spray bottle, add 10 drops for the 2 oz. bottle and 15-20 for the 4 ounce bottle and add water. You could add a tablespoon of witch hazel to help the oils and water mix better. Then spray!

  23. Hi Sara,
    I am new to EO therapy. The reason I started researching is because my daughter who is little more than 4 yrs old has Adenoid problem and she breath through mouth at night. I am trying to treat it naturally. I have ordered Eden Gardens Oregano oil and Fight Five (new version of Four Thieves) oil. Can you please suggest if these oils should be used to for kid below 5 yrs of age and what method should be applied. Is there any other essential oil you recommend from any particular company. Thanks.

    • Hi Santanu! For children, Oregano is super duper strong so just make sure you really dilute it. It is very hot on the skin. I only use and can recommend Young Living Essential Oils – all others have disappointed me and have not really worked well. That all changed when I switched to Young Living! For respiratory support, I would recommend R.C. essential oil for your daughter – to rub it on her chest as a chest rub and diffuse it in a diffuser. You can get high quality diffusers with a warranty from Young Living as well!

  24. My question is can I not use certain oils in my 5 month old baby’s room in the essential oil diffuser? If there are only certain oils I can use in his diffuser which ones are safe? He will be 6 months old next week.

  25. Hi Sara,
    I am very new to these oils.
    I have a query and I am hoping you can give me some insights
    My 2.75 year old son has nasal polyps. He is always very congested and now has a bacterial chest infection for which he is on antibiotics.

    I read on various sites that tea tree oil is very good in getting rid of nasal polyps.

    Do you think I can safely go for one drop of tea tree oil in one tbsp of castor oil. And then put 3 drops of that in his nostrils?

    Believe me! I have tried nasal rinses, apple cider vinegar, all kinds of remedies for him.
    Nothing seems to cure.

    Thanks

    • Hi there! I’m sorry, I’m not allowed to speak specifically to those conditions (compliance with the law), but I can say that Tea Tree oil is very helpful for the skin and I think it’d be a great one to try! And yes, I’d put it in carrier oil before applying to the inside of the nose.

    • NOOOOOO!!!! Do not put tea tree oil in a babies nose!!!! And stop taking advice seriously
      Someone who is giving dangerous information on a blog. Go find a certified aromatherapist.

  26. how many drops of oil to diffuse on one month old baby ? and how many oil can i use at one time ? and how long to diffuse ? thanks

  27. There is a lot of misinformation in here! Essential oils can be stronger than prescription drugs. Ylang Ylang and Tea Tree shouldn’t be used topically on babes under 2, Thieves is not safe for children nor is Eucalyptus, Peppermint or Rosemary. Just because you choose to use them on your family doesn’t mean you should be telling others to do it.
    If you’re not trained in essential oils (and not by your upline in your MLM!!!!), then see a certified aromatherapist for advice and not someone who writes a blog.

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