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The therapeutic properties of Essential Oils are known to support overall well-being by calming nervous energy, uplifting the mood, and promoting concentration. However, the potent and highly volatile nature of Essential Oils can easily be misused and can have a detrimental effect on the skin and other bodily functions. For children and babies, who are more vulnerable to sensitivities and allergies, the safety of Essential Oils has been heavily debated. While Essential Oils can be soothing in times of distress for adults, they may have the opposite effect on children and babies because their vital organs are not yet fully developed. For children over the age of 7, Essential Oils such as Lavender, Chamomile, Frankincense, Cedarwood, and Sandalwood are considered "light" and gentle enough to soothe distressed children and improve their mood. Meanwhile, citrus oils such as Tea Tree Lemon and Sweet Orange should only be used aromatically and are not recommended for topical application. Continue reading to learn more about the safety of certain Essential Oils and how to best use them around your family.



Despite having natural plant origins, Essential Oils are not always entirely safe for use on sensitive baby skin, and each Essential Oil that is considered to be relatively “safe” should also be used with extreme caution. Many reports caution parents against using Essential Oils on babies younger than 3 months, while others suggest avoiding their use on all babies younger than 6 months old, as topical products penetrate more easily into the skin of infants of this age. This is because their skin is sensitive and their immune function, respiratory function, central nervous system, and chemosensory systems are still developing at this stage, thus Essential Oils could potentially have harmful effects on their growth. If used improperly, potential side effects include seizures, unconsciousness, and other consequences listed further down in this article. Essential Oils should not be used around pre-mature babies until at least 3 months after their originally projected due date. Some reports strongly suggest avoiding the use of Essential Oils on children younger than 6 years of age, and for parents who would still like to use Essential Oils on young children, it is said that Hydrosols are a far superior choice, especially for children under two years of age.

NDA strongly suggests avoiding the use of Essential Oils on all children under the age of 7.

Because each Essential Oil exhibits diverse properties – even two oils from the same botanical, such as a “Leaf Oil” versus a “Bark Oil” can have vastly different effects on the skin and the senses – it is imperative to conduct thorough research on their benefits and side effects, especially when using them in skincare for children. Not all Essential Oils will carry the same safeness as those that are widely used and those that are believed to be safe for use on or around children, and the oils that are categorized as safe should still be handled with stringent safety measures.

It is of utmost importance to consult with a medical practitioner before using Essential Oils during pregnancy or on or near babies. In addition to this consultation, it is highly recommended to receive supplementary advice from a certified Aromatherapist. The combined expertise will help parents make well-educated decisions for the wellness of their children as well as for the rest of the family. It is also important to choose the safest variety of any given Essential Oil, as some varieties exhibit stronger properties that may be harmful compared to other, relatively milder varieties. This is where it would be highly beneficial to know the Latin botanical name of the markedly “safe” variety.

When Essential Oils are introduced to the child’s environment, the area in which it is used should be an open area with easy access to fresh air. Essential Oils should be introduced one at a time in low doses in order to make it easy to spot the culprit in case of a potential allergic reaction. The correct variety of each Essential Oil should be used, as a variety could be safe for inhalation but unsafe for topical application, or vice versa. Any potential reactions are often experienced within the first 30 minutes of application, whether diffused or applied to the skin, but it is recommended to wait 24 hours before using the skin-tested oil in the preferred manner.



The Essential Oils that are considered to be gentle or “light” and which are thus most commonly-used for children are the oils in the following chart, due to the belief that they are more comfortably endured by vulnerable body systems:



Grapefruit Pink Essential Oil (avoid topical application) Citrus paradisi
  • Boosts circulation
  • Encourages a positive mood
  • Supports digestive function
  • This oil is phototoxic; use only the distilled variety.
Lime Essential Oil (avoid topical application) Citrus aurantifolia
  • Uplifts mood and energy
  • Refreshes
  • Strengthens and supports nervous system
  • Promotes better focus
  • Strengthens sense of emotional security
  • Helps reduce congestion
  • This oil is phototoxic; use only the distilled variety.
Lemon Essential Oil (avoid topical application) Citrus limon
  • Uplifts mood and energy
  • Refreshes
  • Promotes better focus
  • Strengthens sense of emotional security
  • This oil is phototoxic; use only the distilled variety.
Mandarin Essential Oil Citrus reticulata
  • Calms the mind and body
  • Makes an ideal substitute for Lavender Oil
  • Uplifts the mood
  • Is not phototoxic
  • Promotes restful sleep
Neroli Essential Oil Citrus aurantium L.
  • Balances mood for emotional upliftment
  • Supports digestive function
Sweet Orange Essential Oil Citrus sinensis
  • Has relaxing effect
  • Promotes restful sleep
  • Encourages positive mood
Tangerine Essential Oil Citrus reticulata blanco var tangerine
  • Supports digestive function
  • Soothes, reduces, or prevents spasms
  • Helps to relax body and ease mind


Chamomile Essential Oil (Roman) Matricaria chamomilla
Chamaemelum nobile
  • Soothing effect on mind and body
  • Promotes better sleep for sleepless babies
  • Eases discomfort of colic
  • Uplifts mood
  • Strengthens sense of emotional security
Clary Sage Essential Oil Salvia sclarea
  • Soothes, reduces, or prevents spasms
  • Uplifts mood
  • Supports digestive function
  • Promotes easier breathing
Jasmine Absolute Jasminum grandiflorum
  • Uplifts energy and mood
  • Strengthens sense of emotional security
  • Enhances alertness
  • Relaxes the body and calms the mind
Lavender Essential Oil Lavandula angustifolia
  • Sedative property helps to relax the body and calm the mind
  • Encourages sleep
  • Soothes itchy skin
  • Eases discomfort of colic
Marjoram (Sweet) Marjorana hortensis
  • Supports respiratory and digestive function
  • Promotes restful sleep
  • Strengthens immune function
  • Strengthens sense of emotional security
Rose Absolute/Rose Otto Rosa damascena
  • Sedative quality helps to calm the mind and relax the body
  • Strengthens sense of emotional security and resilience
  • Uplifts the mood
Yarrow Essential Oil (Blue) Achillea millefolium
  • Calms inflammation
  • Promotes mental clarity to reduce feelings of confusion
  • Reassuring scent strengthens sense of emotional security


Basil, Sweet Essential Oil Ocimum basilicum
  • Refreshing scent
  • Helps to eliminate or reduce airborne bacteria
  • Relaxes the body
  • Eases discomfort of cold and flu symptoms
Hyssop Essential Oil Hyssopus officinalis
  • Relaxes body
  • Soothes cough and other cold and flu symptoms
  • Promotes easier breathing
  • Supports digestive function
Marjoram (Sweet) Marjorana hortensis L.
  • Supports digestive and respiratory function
  • Encourages restful sleep
  • Strengthens immunity
Patchouli Essential Oil Pogostemon cablin
  • Uplifts mood
  • Supports immune function
  • Calms inflammation
  • Eases discomfort of dry, irritated skin
Petitgrain Essential Oil Citrus aurantium L. var amara
  • Encourages sleep
  • Strengthens sense of emotional security
  • Calms inflammation and spasms
  • Relaxes the body
Tea Tree Lemon Essential Oil (avoid topical application) Leptospermum petersonii
  • Helps to reduce or eliminate airborne bacteria
  • Promotes easier breathing by helping to clear or reduce mucus that causes congestion


Copaiba Basalm Essential Oil Copaiba spp
  • Calms inflammation
  • Reduces likelihood of developing infections
  • Strengthens respiratory function
Frankincense Essential Oil Boswellia carterii
  • Uplifts mood and promotes positive sentiments
  • Strengthens immune function
  • Helps to clear or reduce congestion
  • Calms the mind and helps to relax the body
Myrrh Essential Oil/Resinoid Commiphora myrrha
  • Strengthens sense of emotional security
  • Uplifts mood
  • Increases alertness
  • Eases digestive discomfort


Turmeric Essential Oil Curcuma longa
  • Helps to relax the body
  • Encourages positive feelings and emotional balance
  • Calms inflammation
  • Helps to reduce or eliminate airborne bacteria
  • Clears or reduces congestion
Vetiver Essential Oil Vetiveria zizanoides
  • Uplifts energy
  • Promotes a sense of tranquility
  • Helps to keep the body cool when experiencing high temperatures
  • Strengthens sense of emotional security


Sandalwood Essential Oil Santalum spicatum
  • Promotes a sense of calm in times of distress
  • Can improve an upset mood
  • Beneficial for helping kids relax and sleep
Cedarwood Essential Oil Cedrus atlantica
  • Alleviates congestion
  • Warm, comforting, and sedative
  • Naturally helps ease distress

Despite the generalizations that are made about the relative safeness of many Essential Oils mentioned in this article, it is important to keep in mind that every individual’s biological makeup is unique and products will interact differently from person to person; accordingly, the physical response will depend on the specific user. Parents who are uncertain or reluctant to use a “safe” oil on or near their children, should disregard the safe lists and follow their own instincts.



The following Essential Oils are reputed to cause skin irritation, breathing difficulties, uncomfortable cooling effects, changes in alertness, or increased blood pressure. This list is not exhaustive:

  • Basil Essential Oil
  • Bay Essential Oil
  • Birch Sweet Essential Oil
  • Camphor Essential Oil
  • Cardamom Essential Oil
  • Cinnamon Essential Oil (Bark or Leaf)
  • Citronella Essential Oil
  • Clove Bud Essential Oil
  • Cumin Essential Oil
  • Eucalyptus Essential Oil
  • Fennel Essential Oil
  • Garlic Essential Oil
  • Lemongrass Essential Oil
  • Oregano Essential Oil
  • Peppermint Essential Oil
  • Rosemary Essential Oil
  • Sage Essential Oil
  • Tagetes Essential Oil
  • Tarragon Essential Oil
  • Thyme Essential Oil
  • Wintergreen Essential Oil



Most Carrier Oils are deemed gentle enough for use on children’s skin. An oil like Jojoba is highly recommended due to the fact that it is odor-free and its composition is similar to the oil that is naturally produced by human skin; however, as with any new product being introduced to the sensitive skin of a child skin, a skin patch test should also be conducted for each Carrier Oil used to ensure that they do not cause a negative reaction. The following are the most commonly used Carrier Oils, which are said to be comparatively safe for use on children:

  1. Calendula Oil
  2. Castor Oil
  3. Coconut Oil
  4. Sesame Oil
  5. Mustard Oil
  6. Almond Oil
  7. Sunflower Oil

Caution: Persons with nut or seed allergies should not use oils derived from seeds, nuts, or kernels.



Before full, lavish application to a child’s skin, Essential Oils should always be diluted. A safe ratio is 1 drop of Essential Oil for 1.5 tablespoon (approx. 445 drops) of Carrier Oil. This equates to a dilution of approximately 0.25%, which will be mild and likely agreeable for children.

A patch test can be done by applying a dime-size amount of the diluted Essential Oil to an insensitive part of the child’s body, usually a leg or an arm. This should be performed in a large, open space or a large, airy room. Check for any irritation or reactions, which may take up to 24 hours to occur and could appear in the form of soreness, inflammation, redness, burns, sun sensitivity, inexplicable and long-lasting irritability, or a change in bowel movements, such as the frequency and appearance. In the absence of a reaction, it is said to be safe to proceed with normal application of the diluted Essential Oil.




Essential Oils should be handled in the same manner as other products that can pose potential dangers if mistreated. They should be stored in in an area that is cool, dark, and out of the reach of children, and they should be used in accordance with their instructions and expiry dates.

  • Make sure that oil removal products are easily accessible. These include a Carrier Oil, lotion or cream, any other product that can help dilute the Essential Oil without further causing the oil to irritate the skin, and a soft cloth.
  • The parent should rub the diluted Essential Oil between the palms in order to gently warm it before massaging the child.
  • When massaging the oil into a child’s skin, do so lightly – applying only enough pressure to gently stimulate the skin.
  • When massaging a child, begin with the legs. When massaging the chest and belly, use light outward strokes that start at the center and spread gently toward the sides or the shoulders. Further research on child massage techniques is highly recommended.
  • Reputed to encourage and help advance child’s development, such as weight gain, emotional balance, and emotional connection with the parent.
  • Reputed to reduce irritability
  • Reputed to encourage deep, sound, quality sleep and to reduce minimize sleeplessness
  • Never apply Essential Oils to a child’s face; if the goal is to clear congestion, simply apply a diluted Essential Oil to the soles of the congested child’s feet or diffuse briefly
  • Always select Essential Oils that are 100% pure and, whenever possible, select ones that are Certified Organic to avoid exposure to harmful chemicals that could sometimes be used in the cultivation of the source botanical.
  • A generally effective massage method is to apply a diluted Essential Oil on to the child’s feet rather than directly into the skin of the rest of the body.
  • Blend Essential Oils with Carrier Oils, salts, or Glycerin before incorporating them in a bath (Carrier Oils dilute the Essential Oils, bath salts disperse them in water, and Glycerin solubilizes them in water).
  • A bath with Essential Oils that are known to have soothing and comforting effects can help children fall asleep, if they are used near naptime/bedtime.
  • Always select Essential Oils that are 100% pure and, whenever possible, select ones that are Certified Organic to avoid exposure to harmful chemicals that could sometimes be used in the cultivation of the source botanical.
  • Dilute the Essential Oil well and use only those that are considered to be comparatively safe to use on a child’s skin.
  • Do not apply Essential Oil-infused bathwater to the face of a child.
  • Use a water-based vaporizer
  • Use 1-3 drops of Essential Oil or the amount suggested by the diffuser manufacturer and diffuse intermittently – diffusing for 10 minutes then turning it off for 30 minutes
  • Alternatively, parents can apply an oil to their own hands or to a tissue or cloth and allow the scent to waft to the child.
  • Diffuse on the side of the room that is opposite the child.
  • Does not require skin contact with or long-term exposure to Essential Oils
  • Depending on oil used, can help to eliminate harmful airborne bacteria
  • Never use adult doses for children
  • Avoid using Essential Oils with strong, cooling, hot, or spicy aromas (e.g. Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Oregano, etc.) around children.
  • Ensure that the room remains well-ventilated and that there is an easy way out for a child that does not enjoy the smell or does not feel comfortable with the diffused oil.
  • Avoid diffusing Essential Oils inside a child’s bedroom and ensure that diffused oils are properly diluted.
  • Do not allow the diffuser to run non-stop or leave it on overnight.
  • If using Essential Oils near a child with or at risk of developing breathing difficulties, take extra precaution in the manner of application.
  • When introducing an Essential Oil to a child through diffusion, begin by testing a small amount of one oil at a time for a short amount of time to check for potential reactions; be aware that this trial period also poses potential harm for children with respiratory difficulties/ailments.
  • If Essential Oils are applied to any part of a child’s body that can end up in his/her mouth (e.g. foot, hand), ensure that this body part remains covered after application.
  • If a child states that he/she does not enjoy the scent of an oil, immediately stop using this oil.
  • Immediately turn off a diffuser and seek medical attention at the first sign of a stronger side effect, such as breathing difficulties, coughing, headache, nausea, vomiting, seizures, or unconsciousness
  • Spray only diluted Essential Oils
  • Spray only around an open, well-ventilated room
  • Avoid spraying it in a child’s room
  • Helps to create a calming environment scent before rest period (depending on oil)
  • Helps to keep child alert and awake after a rest period (depending on oil)
  • Avoid spraying on pillows, other fabrics, or on toys and objects that the child could put in the mouth and inadvertently ingest
  • Apply essential oil or blend to cotton pad
  • Insert the cotton pad into the inhaler
  • Attach seal cap at bottom of inhaler
  • At the top of the inhaler, there is a small opening where one can inhale/breath in the aroma of the oils
  • When not in use, simply insert inhaler into the container. Screw together tightly to prevent loss of scent
  • Allows kids to reap the benefits of aromatherapy safely
  • Essential Oil(s) are not exposed and are unable to transfer onto the skin
  • Promotes deeper breathing
  • Can be used on-the-go
  • Ensure you teach your child how to use the inhaler properly, which includes not placing the inhaler tube into their mouth or taking it apart



Emotional Distress

Roman Chamomile


Sweet Orange


Tea Tree Lemon

Diaper Rash
Cradle Cap

German Chamomile
Yarrow Blue

Upset Tummy
Digestive Discomfort

Sweet Orange
Roman Chamomile



As with all other New Directions Aromatics products, our Essential Oils are for external use only. It is imperative to consult a medical practitioner before using these oils for therapeutic purposes. Pregnant and nursing women are especially advised not to use Essential Oils without the medical advice of a physician, as they may have effects on certain hormone secretions and it is unclear whether these effects are transferable to babies at these stages of development. These oils should always be stored in an area that is inaccessible to children, especially those under the age of 7.

Those with the following health conditions are especially recommended to be advised by a physician: cancer, heart-related ailments, skin disorders, hormone-related ailments, or epilepsy. Individuals that are taking prescription drugs, undergoing major surgery, or who are at a greater risk of experiencing strokes, heart attacks, or atherosclerosis are also advised to seek medical consultation prior to use.

Prior to using any Essential Oil on a child, a skin test is strongly recommended. This can be done by diluting 1 drop of the Essential Oil in 1 tablespoon of a Carrier Oil and applying a dime-size amount of this blend to a small area of the child’s skin that is not sensitive. Essential Oils must never be used near the eyes, inner nose, and ears, or on any other particularly sensitive areas of skin. Potential side effects of Essential Oils include redness, rash, hives, burning, bleeding disorders, decreased speed of healing, low blood pressure, dizziness, headache, nausea, diarrhea, convulsions, rapid heartbeat, and seizures. In the event of an allergic reaction, discontinue use of the products and see a doctor, pharmacist, or allergist immediately for a health assessment and appropriate remedial action. To prevent side effects, consult with a medical professional prior to use.

IMPORTANT: All New Directions Aromatics (NDA) products are for external use only unless otherwise indicated. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, and it should not be used by anyone who is pregnant or under the care of a medical practitioner. Please refer to our policies for further details, and our disclaimer below.

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