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Essential Oil Safety for Babies and Small Children

By Deborah McKinney                                                                                                                                               Certified Aromatherapist                                                                                                                                                 April 15, 2019

Since the dawn of time man has used plants for almost everything.  We eat plants, we use them for decoration, to make a room smell good, to cure infections, and even to kill rodents.  Plants have been the root (no pun intended) of everyday life since the beginning of time.

Then man, in its zeal to make things better, started to replace plants with “junk” food, man-made chemicals, pills, air fresheners, poisons, etc.  Many of these man-made products came with severe side effects.  Many of those side effects include obesity, cancer, other health issues and, in some cases, even death.

In recent years, we have swung back to where we started.  We’ve rediscovered the amazing use of plants in natural health care.  We are again recognizing the wonderful health benefits of a simple plant.  The scent of an orange can brighten a room and a slice of that same orange in your mouth can make your tastebuds dance.  The aroma of a rose and its velvety soft petals can bring you warmth and embrace your heart with the calming feeling of love.  The smell of a fir tree can reach deep into your lungs making you feel happy and alive!

We have once again discovered that caring for our bodies naturally, inside and out, results in a happier, healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle.  Not just by eating healthier, but we have amazingly learned how to bottle all of the wonderful benefits of plants into something called an essential oil.

This small earth that we call home is filled with millions of people.  And millions of people mean using a lot of plants to meet everyone’s needs!  Fortunately, with newer and better technology, we’ve found easier and faster ways to extract essential oils from plants.  As a result, essential oils are available almost everywhere in the world.

Since the reintroduction of taking better care of ourselves naturally, we’ve discovered that we also want the same for our families.  Most importantly, we want our children to grow up happy and healthy and as naturally as possible.

Essential oils have amazing health benefits through inhalation and topical use when used properly.  This is key – when used properly.  What is good for you may not be good for me.  And what is good for you in the essential oil world is often not good for your baby.

As adults, we tend to beat up on our bodies and our skin.  Our skin is exposed to all sorts of personal hygiene products, too much sun, exposures due to our work environment, etc.  But a baby’s skin is delicate and not as mature as an adult’s skin.  A baby’s body is much smaller and baby’s skin is much thinner than an adult.  Because a baby’s skin is thinner, baby absorbs topical products differently than an adult does. Topical products are absorbed deeper and much quicker into baby’s system than they do in an adult’s system.

It is for the above reasons that the use of essential oils on children under the age of 2 years is not recommended. And, at Joy Naturals, we do not use essential oils topically on children under the age of 2 years.  We also highly recommend that essential oils be used very sparingly in blends for children between the ages of 2 and 12 years.

For babies and small children under the age of 5 years we at Joy Naturals love to use hydrosols.  Hydrosols are water based products that are created when making essential oils.  These water based products have many of the same qualities as essential oils but they are far more gentle for baby.

Let me try to explain hydrosols using a pot roast. Try, as hard as it may seem, to think of the roast in the below paragraph as a plant.

You put your roast in a pan, cover the roast, put it in the oven and cook it.   Once the roast is finished cooking, you pull the roast out of the oven.   You pour the juice from the roast into a bowl.  Once the bowl of juice cools there is a layer of waxy fat on top.  Think of the layer of waxy fat as the essential oil of your plant.  You remove the waxy fat and underneath that layer of fat is a water based product that is dark and rich.  So while the bottom layer is water based and doesn’t have all that fat (oil) that you just removed, it still makes a pretty yummy gravy.

Like the above example, during the distillation process of making essential oils, we not only get an oil but we also get a water based product from the plant.  That water based product is called a hydrosol.  the hydrosol may not contain any of the plant’s oils (like the waxy fat above) but it is still an effective but gentler product (kind of like your water based gravy above).  The best thing about hydrosols is that they are generally safe to use on babies, the elderly, pregnant women, and people who are sensitive to essential oils.

At Joy Naturals we love to use organic hydrosols for babies and small children.  We use them in our sheet spray, in baby’s bath, in our diaper rash products and in our skin care for baby.  We use dry carriers like kaolin clay, kudzu root and ground chamomile flowers for baby’s powder.

At Joy Naturals we also use carrier oils and butters for babies and small children instead of essential oils.  A carrier oil is not an essential oil.   Carrier oils, like hydrosols, have their own healing properties – even without adding essential oils!  Nature truly takes care of us!

Examples of carrier oils include argan oil, jojoba wax (oil), coconut oil, avocado oil, and so forth.  We also use butters like shea butter and cocoa butter. Handmade unscented lotion, organically crafted aloe vera gel and white kaolin clay are also favorites.

Carrier oils and butters are products that, like hydrosols, have their own healing properties.  It is a misconception to think that we must always add an essential oil to a carrier product in order for these carriers to help put balance back into our bodies.  This is especially true when working with babies and children.  Carrier products are perfect for underdeveloped bodies (like babies and small children) and adults who are sensitive to essential oils or who should be avoiding essential oils like pregnant women and the elderly.

And please, do not use essential oils on your breasts when breastfeeding.  According to Robert Tisserand, who is world renowned for his knowledge of essential oils, there is no documented proof that essential oils will help you to produce more breastmilk.  Furthermore, you do not want these essential oils absorbed into your system and into your baby’s breastmilk.

It is extremely important to be vigilant when using essential oils with babies and children.  When in doubt, reach out and ask a certified aromatherapist for advice.

Another alternative to topical use for babies and small children is the use of a diffuser.  Diffuser blends for babies can be very successful.  They can create a feeling of relaxation during times of stress and also aid in sleep support.  Diffuser blends can also effectively support better breathing during cold and flu season.  But again, be vigilant.  Certain essential oils should not be diffused around babies (or pets).

When purchasing an all-natural product for yourself or your children, consider buying products that are made organically or are made from wildcrafted ingredients.  There are a lot of products out there that are adulterated.  In short, this means that they are not pure.  And don’t be fooled by marketing terms like “therapeutic grade” – there is not such thing!

Because we make and sell products at Joy Naturals, we want only the best for our clients so we use organic and wildcrafted oils in our blends.  And, while we sell products online, we prefer to customize products specifically for you or for baby.  Why?  Because everyone’s body and needs are different.

Some of the things we look for when purchasing essential oils, carriers, and other ingredients for our products are:

Where does the product come from?                                                                                                                            When was it distilled/made?                                                                                                                                                  What is the shelf life of the product? (If the shelf life is 3 years but it was distilled 2 years ago, it only has one year left!)                                                                                                                                                                        Is the oil responsibly sourced?  (This is a whole other subject in itself)                                                                               We want to see the GC/MS report on every batch of oil!

There are a lot of great resources available if you are interested in learning more:  Hydrosol books by Suzzane Catty can be found on Amazon; Essential oils and carrier oils from; Books on essential oils by Robert Tisserand; Want to learn more or become certified in aromatherapy? visit  Andrea is an amazing teacher who has a true passion for the gift that essential oils bring to our every day lives.

Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions regarding this post or our products.  Send an email to:

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