When I discuss essential oil use I am usually describing oils and dosages for adults. Most general guidelines are written with adults in mind, but it is okay to use aromatherapy on children. It can be a very pleasant therapy for them as long as the guidelines of essential oil use and safety for children is kept in mind.
Oftentimes aromatherapists will not recommended essential oils for very small children. The blog at Aromahead.com states, “I don’t use essential oils much for kids under about five years old. Their systems are so delicate and responsive, that I find we generally don’t need to use such highly-concentrated substances. … Essential oils can easily become overwhelming for them. … You can always use hydrosols, as they are much gentler … and are very healing in their own right.” The blog goes on to mention German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) as their preferred hydrosols for small children. On children over the age of five, they include the essential oils of Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), Cedarwood (Juniperus virginiana), and Orange (Citrus sinensis) at a 1% dilution, or 5 or 6 drops per ounce of carrier.
General safety guidelines for children are explained on the website of the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy. “Infants, toddlers, and young children are more sensitive … and safe dilutions include .5 – 2.5% depending on (age and) condition. Also, some essential oils should simply be avoided for this population, e.g. Birch or Wintergreen … and Peppermint. (Peppermint should be avoided with) children under 30 months of age. The nasal mucosa is an autonomic reflexogen organ, which has a distance action to the heart, lungs and circulation and may lead to sudden apnoea and glottal constriction.”
Other points of essential oil safety for children include not allowing the ingestion of oils, ensuring that the oils are properly diluted before use, and not applying oils on or near a child’s face. Children are not considered at an age for full-strength adult dilutions until they are over 15 years old. So, children under the age of 15 can enjoy the use of essential oils in products such as lotions, body creams, and sprays as long as they are at the lower dilutions and contain child-safe oils. When used properly, essential oils can offer pain relief and help children relax in the same way they help adults.