Essential oils are widely used for a variety of reasons. Some people use them for everyday wellness, while others just enjoy their smell. Whatever your reason is for using essential oils, it is important to know about their proper use and safety.
This is especially important when considering using essential oils in the pediatric population.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are mixtures of volatile, organic compounds that come from a botanical source such as flowers, leaves, seeds, bark or the root of a plant. These oils contribute to the flavour and fragrance of a plant.
The word “essential” pertains to the intrinsic nature or essence of the plant. In the chemistry world, a “volatile” substance is easily evaporated at normal temperatures.
Some Tips for Using Essential Oils in Babies
- Do not use essential oils in infants less than 3 months old.
- Do not apply undiluted essential oils to the skin. This applies to any age group. Skin reactions are more likely when using undiluted oils. You should always dilute oils using a carrier oil when applying to the skin. Babies should have a maximum concentration of 0.5% applied – this is approximately equivalent to 1 drop of oil in 10mL of carrier oil.
- Do not add undiluted oils to bath water. Oil and water do not mix and you may experience skin irritation. This applies to any age group.
- Do not swallow oils. Essential oils are not meant to be ingested. This applies to any age group.
- Do not overuse oils, including diffusing them.
- Do not use oils on their face.
When purchasing essential oils, you should seek out high quality producers. Labels should include the plant name, the botanical name of the plant, the part of the plant used to make the oil, and appropriate “use by” dates. Certain warnings should be included for some essential oils if they sensitize the skin to sunlight, and some should be avoided in pregnancy.
General Safety Guidelines
An essential oil in a bottle is 50-100 times more concentrated than in a plant. This can make a child very sick if they swallow the oil. Keep your essential oils out of reach of children. Make sure your essential oil bottles have drop-dispensers on them, or look for child-resistant bottles.
Keep your essential oils away from open flames or direct heat. These are volatile compounds that can start on fire.