How to Use Essential Oils for Kids & Babies

Essential oils are safe to use with kids and babies with the proper dilution ratios and knowledge of use.  My kids are the reason I started using essential oils. They’re close together in age {7, 5 1/2 & 3 1/2} and once the oldest started preschool, they just passed whatever was brought home from school back and forth for months at a time. I felt like someone was always sick.  I felt helpless because they were so small I couldn’t give them anything and I felt trapped just waiting for them to either get better…or not.

My first use of essential oils was to support their bodies’ immune systems to help them battle the yuckies my preschooler was bringing home. At our house, we treat essential oils like plant medicines. They are not toys to be played with, and the kids know they need either me or my husband’s supervision to use them. It only takes oils in the eye once for that lesson to stick. {Tiny snicker, but only because they don’t cause permanent damage, only temporary discomfort}.

Kids’ bodies are growing and developing, and if we can support their bodies’ in the best ways possible, they will enter adulthood healthier and more emotionally balanced, and have the knowledge of the tools to use for physical and emotional support that many of us didn’t have when we ventured out on our own. Many of the illness kids encounter are viruses. Viruses cannot be killed with antibiotics {only bacteria can}. Essential oils work with our body’s immune system to support it as it works to combat the invader {the pathogen} and kill it so we can get better and heal. They’re not magic, and they’re not a substitute for advanced medical care when the situation has progressed beyond supporting the body’s systems so the body can heal itself.

Ok, so a story not about kids, but about knowing when to defer to Western Medicine.  I’m an ER RN by trade, and I actually had someone come in having a heart attack, and he refused treatment and stated he wanted to go home and use his essential oils. What?!?! No joke!! Now, I like essential oils {probably more than the average person} but if I’m having a heart attack…fix me!  This goes for kids too. If your sixth sense is telling you something’s really wrong and you feel like you need to bring you child into a doctor- do it! Essential oils support. They don’t cure.

So, what do I use my essential oils for most often with my kids? I make a diaper rash blend for occasional skin irritation. You can actually use this for any type of occasional skin irritation {even in adults}.  I also use a Respiratory Blend for support when their respiratory system needs a boost. Don’t have a pre-made blend for for respiratory support? I like to combine peppermint, cedarwood, frankincense, cardamon, eucalyptus and melaleuca with a base of coconut oil and rub it on the chest and back. Why the back? Your lungs are 3D structures and the back part of your lungs is next to your back. When you rub the essential oil mix on both sides, both the front and back of your lungs are getting oils to them from the shortest distance.

I use essential oils to support good sleep for my kids. Everyone, but especially kids, need good sleep to repair their bodies and process all the information they encountered during the day.  I like lavender, roman chamomile and vetiver for sleep.

I use essential oils to support their immune systems, both when they are well as a preventative boost, and when they are ill, as an added support to help the body heal itself.  Oils that are great for this include cinnamon, clove, frankincense, rosemary and wild orange.

Kids have occasional tummy troubles, and I use a combination or peppermint, ginger, fennel and anise to ease occasional nausea and stomach discomfort. I rub it either directly on the stomach area or put it on the bottom of the feet where the pores are very large and the oil will get absorbed into the bloodstream very rapidly.

Another way I use essential oils in kids is for occasional ear discomfort. For this I recommend lavender, melaleuca and basil 1 drop each {diluted for babies} rubbed on the skull bone behind the ear and on the pinna {outer cartilage part} of the ear. Never put oils into the ear canal.

Teething is a normal process for babies as they grow. This can be distressing for both the child as well as the adult caring for them. Over the counter medications don’t always take care of the discomfort associated with the teething.  My go-to is 1 drop lavender and 1 drop roman chamomile rubbed on the outer area of the cheek where the tooth is coming in, as well as 1 drop white fir or siberian fir rubbed directly on the gums where the tooth is coming in. The fir essential oil has a numbing quality about it and will give relief.

Kids that are rapidly growing sometimes have “growing pains”. These are occasional joint pains where bones are growing so rapidly that it’s causing discomfort. For this I always recommend a blend of peppermint, marjoram, roman chamomile and wintergreen essential oils. Sometimes adding lemongrass can also be beneficial.

Here’s where I address the BIG question so many people have with kids. How do I know how much to dilute or if I need to dilute? My answer is always that more dilution is better than less with kids. By adding a carrier oil {such as coconut oil or almond oil or avocado oil}, the absorption of the essential oil is slowed down. It is often the rapid absorption of the essential oil that causes the skin sensitivity and discomfort. I recommend between 1 tsp – 1 Tbsp of carrier oil for dilution. Use more dilution for smaller bodies and less for larger bodies.  Adding the carrier oil doesn’t decrease the effectiveness of the essential oil at all. So technically it isn’t a dilution because you aren’t making it weaker. You’re just slowing the absorption of the essential oil. {Maybe we should start calling it something else more fitting!}  If you find that you have applied an essential oil that you have already diluted with a carrier oil, and your child says that their skin is still having sensitivity, or you notice the skin is slightly red or irritated, just put a little more carrier oil on the area. Easy peasy!  This will almost immediately ease the discomfort, as the oil absorption is slowed.

I rarely use essential oils internally in children, simply because essential oils are more potent and powerful when used internally, and childrens’ bodies are smaller and metabolize the oils differently than adults’ bodies do.  It is also important to only use essential oils that have been verified and tested for internal use when you are taking them internally. These is no regulation in the essential oil space because they are labeled as supplements. This allows companies to put anything on the bottle they want, even if its not what’s inside. There was a recent case where lavender essential oil bought from Wal-Mart was tested and found to be a less potent and less therapeutically active cousin called lavendin. The bottle also contained various other additives and fillers.  Just a word of caution.

I also use essential oils to help support my kids’ emotional states. Kids brains are exponentially growing and changing as they encounter new information and find where to classify it. Kids may not always have the emotional or verbal maturity to express their feelings or experiences. This can cause A LOT of crying and other disruptive behaviors {anyone heard of terrible 2s or horrible 3s?!?!}

Before I was introduced to essential oils, I tried A TON of mommy group recommended tactics. Annnddd…a lot of them failed.  Enter essential oils, and now I use them as my first line of defense. Smells go directly to our limbic system {the ancient part of the brain that is in charge of our emotions} and elicit specific emotional responses. Kids have BIG emotions, and as such we need to validate and support their feelings, but then work to get them back to a better functioning emotional state.

I’ve seen then responses first hand in my kids- tantrums and emotional breakdowns ending after applying essential oils. It doesn’t cure the emotional issue, but rather brings the brain back to “center”. I thought this was “cray-cray” when I first started using essential oils, but after seeing the oils work with my kids, I’m now drinking the Kool-Aid. My favorite essential oils for kids’ emotional states are vetiver and lavender for emotional upset; any of the citrus oils for eliciting happiness and joy; and patchouli, rosemary and frankincense for increasing focus {this is also great for diffusing during homework time}.

Essential oils have become an integral part of how I take care of my kids, both physically and emotionally.  I did a ton of research when I started using essential oils, because of the issue of no regulations. The oils I always recommend are doTERRA’s. They have a 10 step testing process that verifies the purity and potency of the oils. Any that do not meet the strict standards they release for re-sale back into the marketplace {and they probably end up in the bottle of another company that doesn’t test}.

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