After hearing many people ask questions about the safety of essential oil use for children, I thought I’d add some information on the basics of essential oil use, as well as what is helpful and appropriate for children’s use. I want to stress that before you give your children any kind of medication or essential oil or seemingly food (because it’s complicated this day in age, isn’t it?), that you research as much as you can so that you can make an informed and prayerful decision! We are grateful to live in a country where we are empowered to make healthy preventative choices for our lives; and I am a huge proponent of making informed and wise decisions.
We started using Young Living essential oils over four years ago for our (then) 5 month old daughter after she developed a kidney reflux issue. Medical Doctors wanted to treat her by prescribing a daily antibiotic for an unlimited time (which we felt was not good for her immune system). In addition to the antibiotic, they also were looking at surgery and scheduled several invasive medical tests to further understand her condition. At the conclusion of her diagnosis, not only did she have organ malformation, but she also suffered serious PTSD and sensory stimulation which was propelled by the rounds of “advanced medical testing”. Though we were grateful to have these means for lifesaving conditions, the traditional route to help her came with bad physical side effects and a very long road of emotional healing and detox. We, by no means, have thrown all traditional medical treatment out the window for our family–but it has been by alternative therapies that we have seen miraculous transformation, not only in our daughter’s condition, but also in our individual and family’s life. Essential oils have been what has aided us through the day-by-day healing of not only her kidney issue but also the emotional and physical toxicity that was brought about by her short-lived traditional treatment. She is a bright and lively and creative little girl who has experienced miracles and LOVES her oils; she has spurned our whole family onto a healthier and more holistic lifestyle.
With that history, it’s important to know that our essential oil journey has been an “intensive”. I’ve had to learn as I go, research a lot, and use my medical background to understand how my daughter (and family) responded to each oil. For most of you, you just want to know the basics. And for the basics, I keep it very basic! But for those of you who may have a more intensive situation, I am also happy to listen and see if I can help in a private message or phone call!
For the basics, here is how I suggest starting your Essential Oil journey for your child or family.
1. Start slow. A little essential oil goes A LONG way. It’s similar to exercise! You don’t run a marathon the first day into it, you instead take a walk around the block. As you try more oils and learn as you go, you will find what works for you and your family. Using them as directed is key! I also tried one oil at a time (similar to starting to feed a baby solid foods), so that the body has time to respond after each application before moving onto the next one. Young Living oils are therapeutic grade, which means they can be used for medicinal purposes (they are the only oils I personally use). They are very potent, and no more than 1-2 drops should be necessary…especially for kids. For children, I suggest to start using them as a daily immune booster during fall or winter months and/or when they sick. This is a great and safe way to see how effective and healing they are for the body. My essential oil use for our kids goes down quite a bit in the summer simply because they get sun all the time, they are exercising more, and they are outside constantly. I DO NOT substitute good eating habits, exercise, or other healthy lifestyle patterns with oils. The essential oils are a great complement to those!
2. A great way to introduce oils to your kids is by wearing them topically yourself! If you put an oil on your neck or wrists, your child WILL be able to smell it. Oils work well aromatically, and this is a safe way to test their reactions–especially if it’s for an infant. Putting a drop of Lavender on Mama’s chest as a baby is going down for the night is a safe and effective way to get started! And the benefits get shared by everyone.
3. Another great way to get started is to diffuse the oils. A good diffuser becomes a best friend! Many people have artificial air fresheners in their homes, but an oil diffuser is so much better. Artificial air fresheners are toxic when breathed in, and therapeutic grade essential oils are the opposite. You can choose oils that are effective against airborne bacteria to cleanse out a room (Thieves, Lemon), to take away odors (Purification), and to soothe yourself or over-active children after a long day (Lavender, Stress Away, Peace&Calming). This is a great way to be introduced to oils if you aren’t sure where to get started!
4. If you would like to apply the oils topically, I suggest using a carrier oil on kids (coconut oil works great and is a favorite at our house). You can test a small patch of skin with the essential oil and carrier oil (perhaps on the arm) to see if your child has any skin sensitivities to it. Thieves is often a common oil used for immunity. It is a fabulous oil and one of our favorites, but it does contain cinnamon bark–which can be considered “hot”. This just means that a carrier oil is advised as it can be sensitive to the skin. It’s important to read the label with each oil before applying it to make sure you are not allergic to any of the ingredients (if it is a blend).
5. It’s important to note that essential oils heal the body and stimulate the immune system. This means that essential oils can bring down a fever (by healing the ailment not just “reducing” the fever), so they have been ideal for our family! Many times if I have healed a fever/cold/infection with essential oils, I’ve only been left with residual effects like a loose cough. This is because the essential oil has pushed the toxins or bacteria out of my system. It is a good thing! Essential oils create an atmosphere for detoxification. This allows the body to work the way it was created to by ridding itself of whatever foreign substance is in the body. They can be used as preventative care, and also if you are already sick. If you use an oil, it’s good to recognize how your body responds. Sometimes you bypass the sickness with no residual cough or runny nose, etc but other times you propel nose-blowing or mucus coughing or other similar mild detox symptoms. Drink plenty of water, and enjoy your new found health afterward. You’ll start to discern “sick” cough or symptoms from detox symptoms as you use the oils. This is why a little goes a long way! You would never put a child on a Master Cleanse; you would eliminate one harmful toxin at a time. Slow is better. The goal is to progressively heal the body, one application at a time. The essential oils don’t mask symptoms, they help restore health, but like anything, it is a process.
6. Essential oils are not FDA approved, and they do not come with a prescription. If you want to be serious about using them for your family, it will take time and effort (but it is so worth it!). You will want to do research and choose the oil company best for you. Young Living has been the best for us because of the integrity of leadership, their Seed to Seal program, low distillation temperatures, organic harvests, lab testing of every bottle, and third party lab testing of every bottle. They are top notch! We have had no side effects (other than mild detox symptoms) and continue to love the company the more and more we’ve used them.
7. Some of my favorite oils for kids are Lavender (topically or in diffuser), Peace&Calming (topically or in the diffuser), Thieves (with a carrier oil on the bottom of the feet or in the diffuser), any of the citrus oils (in the diffuser). I tend to stick to calming oils or immune boosters for kids. Unless I’m intentionally dealing with an emotional issue, I stick to the basic oils with children. I use essential oils on a need basis or preventative basis (my daughter is in preschool and it’s winter), but I do not go overboard or use them for everything. Kids heal easily on their own; they usually only need a boost not an overhaul.
Some examples of our daily use would be this:
Morning time: 1-2 drops of Thieves on each child’s feet (in fall and winter usually)
Day time: Sometimes diffuse a citrus oil (Lemon, Orange, Grapefruit, etc), Peace&Calming, or perhaps a mix of Thieves and a citrus oil. I usually diffuse something once or twice a day in the winter.
Night time: Oliver gets 1 drop of Lavender on the neck at bedtime, and our girls have a diffuser in their room for Lavender or another calming oil. Sometimes I’ll also add an oil to the bottom of their feet if they’ve been under the weather or if Ella is going to school the next day.
In general, our kids usually get 2-4 drops of oil a day unless they are sick. Anything else is aromatic oils from our diffuser or from whatever I’m wearing that day.
I hope this helps answer some questions for the BASICS of using EO’s with kids. The field is wide and there is a ton of information and guidance about how EO’s are helpful; this is just the first step. If you want to know more information or want to host a Essential Oils 101 class, we can go into much further detail about how they work. If you have a child who is struggling with emotional issues/ developmental delays and/or sensory issues, there is a whole other side to this subject that is fascinating and full of Hope!
My schedule will open up a bit more next year to do more one-on-one consultations in regards to the oils–as well as how they relate to creativity, holistic healing, and prayer. I’ll keep writing these beginner blogs and hosting classes until then………
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