Essential oils for children

Tips, tricks and safety precautions

In an uncertain, ever changing world it is easy to feel the burden of overwhelm. Yet, using essential oils with children is a great way to help them stop, reconnect and focus on what they need. Some children may feel excited, nervous, shy, bolder than usual, anxious. As a parent we recognise, encourage and support those emotions. Learning how to use essential oils for children safely is a natural way we can help support those feelings.

Please note: when discussing children in this article, I am referring to children over the age of 2 years old. Please consider each child individual needs and responses when using essential oils.

How to use essential oils

Lets’ look at some of the best ways to use essential oils.


Diffusing oils is a wonderful way to set the mood. I use this especially first thing in the morning to set the tone for the day. Some days I can see the whole household needs an invigorating blend to get the out the door on time. Some days when we are well rested, I like to use an uplifting blend to keep the good vibes rolling. When diffusing using an ultrasonic diffuser, the oil disperses throughout the air. This allows it to be enter the body in a way the cells in our body can utilise them.


Using essential oils on your skin is another great and convenient way to get good benefits. Essential oils can mix with a carrier oil in a 10ml roller bottle. This can be a discreet way for children to apply their oils if they need. They are small and can fit into their school bag or desk to use when needed without being too obvious.

When to use essential oils

For anxiety

As much as we wish our children not to have worries, it isn’t always the case. Different challenges each day can impact the emotional well-being for our little ones. And while a lot of the work to tackle this begins at home, essential oils can play a big role in helping to reduce anxiety. Practising how to recognise anxiety forming is the first step. Techniques on how to respond can then help them to feel in control of the situation. Breathing in essential oils can trigger the part of the brain that controls our emotions. The limbic system also controls heart rate, blood pressure and stress. By using these techniques, your little ones can feel more in control of their emotions. Especially if you aren’t there to help them.

Oils to use for calming

Cedarwood – Very relaxing and grounding scent known for its ability to calm. But, Cedarwood Atlantica is on the endangered species list. Consider using Cedarwood Virginian instead.
Lavender – The oil of open and honest communication, this oil is a powerhouse. It is calming, balancing and gentle. Good to use in a roller or diffuser
Mandarin – A wonderful calming and uplifting oil that can help with sleep.
Ylang Ylang – brings about relaxation to the body and mind. It can help to reduce fear and anxiety allowing you to feel joy and happiness. Good to use in a diffuser

woman comforting small child
Essential oils can help children to feel relaxed and calm, especially when we aren’t there.

Immune support

We can support our immune system can many ways. Food, rest and exercise are the super trio. Many essential oils work to support immune system function. They can work to increase blood and lymphatic circulation reducing inflammation in the body. Not all essential oils often used for immune properties are suitable for children. Make sure you are using a child safe blend.
Essential oils can also help to reduce symptoms when colds and flu are present. Certain oils can help clear congestion, reduce cough and improve breathing.
Please note: Essential oils do not replace medical care and should not be substituted for an assessment and treatment plan formulated by a medical officer.

Oils to use for illness

Marjoram (sweet) – Can support respiratory function and strengthen the immune system.
Basil (Sweet) – Refreshing scent that can help remove airborne bacteria. It can also help to ease symptoms of cold and flu
Lemon Tea Tree (Diffuser only) – Can help remove airborne bacteria. Can also help clear the respiratory system if congested.
Frankincense – Can strengthen immune function and can help to clear congestion

For improved focus and concentration

Sometimes you have to complete a task. And although your body wants to be outside, you have to concentrate at the task at hand. Some essential oils help to promote concentration. They work as a mental stimulant and can reduce mental fatigue. It is a good option when climbing the trees is not possible.

Oils to use for focus

Citrus – many citrus blends are great for mood, focus and energy. The following are suitable for diffusing only as they are phototoxic and. Pink grapefruit, lime, lemon, sweet orange and tangerine.
Lavender – works to calm a racing mind. Used during the day, it can help someone feel calm, engaged and peaceful
Vetiver – a very strong scented oil, yet when used diluted, it can help with exhaustion. It can soothe and calm your mind allowing you to think clearer.

For energy when fatigued

You know how you feel when you are in a different or new work environment? Even if you love what you are doing, you can’t help but feel emotionally tired and drained from being on your ‘best behaviour!’ I think that is what school can be like (combined with long days and all that play!). Using essential oils that are uplifting and motivating can help reinvigorate after a long day. Or wake you up when you should have gone to bed that little bit earlier!

Oils to use for energy

Citrus – many citrus blends are great for mood, focus and energy. The following are suitable for diffusing only as they are phototoxic and. Pink grapefruit, lime, lemon, sweet orange and tangerine.
Frankincense – can promote deep breathing and relaxation by opening up the nasal passages. This can increase blood flow and promoting energy.
Cypress – Believed to have a grounding effect during challenging times. Also help improve blood flow, leading to increased energy.

For help getting to sleep

The number one question is always, ‘How can I use essential oils to help my child sleep”. Essential oils can help relax and create a peaceful atmosphere before bed. You might want to consider a gently massage with essential oils in a carrier oil such as coconut oil. Or diffusing a blend for about 30 minutes before bed to infuse the room. There is no need to diffuse all night long.

Oils for bedtime

Chamomile (Roman or German) – Soothes the mind and body and can help promote more restful sleep.
Lavender – Lavender – works to calm a racing mind. Is relaxing and soothing.
Petitgrain – Works to encourage sleep. Strengthens emotional security and relaxes the body.
Mandarin/Sweet orange – A wonderful calming and uplifting oil that can help with sleep.

How to dilute essential oils safely

When purchasing pre-made essential oil blends make sure they are diluted safely. Don’t be afraid to ask the seller what the dilution ration is.
From 6-24 months there are a few essential oils used for specific purposes and only for short periods of time to treat a problem. Depending on the oils used, the dilution ration for this age is generally 0.5% oil in a suitable carrier oil.
Caution where you apply essential oils on children is also important. Along the spine or feet is generally considered best.
For children from 2 years to 6 a dilution rate of 1%-2% is best.
For children from 6-15 years a dilution rate of 1.5% to 3% is recommended while for adults 5% is the general rule.Caution where you apply essential oils on children is also important. Along the spine or feet is generally considered best.

Safety Precautions when using essential oils

  • Please be vigilant and do your own research before using essential oils.
  • Use reputable sources make decisions that are best for you and your own family. Don’t buy essential oils unless you know they are from a reputable source. Make sure they are pure and blended with no synthetics or artificial fragrances.
  • Always make sure they are diffused in a well ventilated room.
  • Diffuse for up to 1 hour at a time, not continuously.
  • When using a roller blend, don’t use for more than 5 days in a row without a break.
  • Always perform a patch test and monitor your childs response for 24 hours
  • Only allow your children access to essential oils when they are old enough to use them safely
  • Do not use on broken skin
  • Avoid citrus oils on the skin as they can react to UV light from the sun.
  • Never add essential oils undiluted to bath water.
  • Essential oils should not be taken internally

Finding ways on how to use essential oils for children safely to create a positive atmosphere is wonderful. But should always we used supervised and with caution. Always consider medical advice prior to use.

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