Aromatherapy for Babies and Children

Babies and children have an especially acute sense of smell, which means using aromatherapy safely takes a little more consideration when small noses are involved. In most cases, babies, toddlers and older children benefit most from the use of essential oils during difficult periods of growth, and when they’re experiencing an illness or physical complaint. Many essential oils have potent antibacterial and antiviral properties that make them ideal for treating childhood ailments, while others soothe and calm restless minds and bodies.

Using Essential Oils Safely

When using essential oils on babies and children, always dilute them in a carrier oil, such as, sweet almond oil, grapeseed oil, extra virgin olive oil or apricot kernel oil. For the best results, combine 1 to 2 drops of pure essential oil with 1 tsp. carrier oil. After the age of 14, children may be treated with essential oils using the same guidelines and dosages recommended for adults. Never use aromatherapy to treat infants under the age of two months. Always consult your pediatrician or family physician before using any alternative treatment on children, especially if they currently take medications or have a serious medical condition.

Always keep essential oils out reach of children. If an essential oil is ever ingested, immediately give the child an oil-soluble liquid such as half-and-half or whole milk, then call your local poison control center or get to the emergency room as quickly as possible. A few drops of essential oil may not be life-threatening, depending on the oil and size of the child, but it’s always best to take these precautions for the child’s safety.

Methods of Use

Aromatherapy baths and massage are ideal for treating babies and children. Massage is a wonderful way for parents to bond with their babies, while toddlers and older children may prefer an aromatherapy bath instead. Both treatments help induce sleep and calm the child, especially after a traumatic event. However, you should avoid using essential oils for two weeks before and after a vaccination to prevent any potential side effects, such as irritation or swelling.

Baby Massage – To perform an aromatherapy massage on your baby, combine 1 drop essential oil with 1 tsp. carrier oil, then gently massage the mixture into the legs, arms, hands, feet, back and chest. Most babies enjoy massage, but if the child shows signs of discomfort, stop immediately. You will most likely not use the entire massage oil mixture, so keep the leftovers in a dark glass bottle until the next massage. You can use this treatment up to once a day, and it is especially helpful when the baby has pain from colic, teething, fever or the flu. Remember, however, aromatherapy should not take the place of medical care. Always consult your doctor if something is wrong and use essential oils only as a supplemental treatment.

Aromatherapy Bath for Toddlers and Older Children – Once your child becomes too old for massage, an aromatherapy bath can help ease what ails him, from tummy aches and colds to stress and insomnia. Simply dilute 1 to 2 drops essential oil in 1 tsp. carrier oil and add the mixture to a bathtub filled with warm water. Allow the child to remain in the bath for 15 to 20 minutes. Never use more than 2 drops of essential oil at a time, as children have a tendency to put their fingers in their mouth or near their eyes in the bathtub, and this can cause irritation.

Essential Oils for Babies and Children

Not all essential oils are suitable for babies and children. Some of the more gentle oils, however, can be used safely in most applications. Following are some of the best essential oils for small bodies. However, always let your child’s nose be the ultimate guide. If the child has an aversion to a particular essential oil, don’t force it on him. Instead, let him choose the oils he likes best and finds most soothing.

For babies, toddlers and older children:

Roman chamomile

Neroli (Orange Blossom)




For toddlers and older children only:


Tea Tree



Ylang Ylang


Treating Specific Ailments

In addition to the general massage and bath treatments, you can also use essential oils in various ways to treat certain childhood ailments. Following are some suggestions on safe ways to use specific oils for treating specific problems.

To help induce sleep, place a single drop of lavender essential oil on the child’s sheets or pajamas, or use the oil in a bath or massage.

To treat an upset stomach or colic, gently massage diluted mandarin oil (1 drop in 1 tsp. carrier oil) into the child’s abdomen.

To treat restlessness or agitation, use neroli or Roman chamomile essential oil as directed above in a bath for toddlers and older children or massage for baby.

Place 1 to 2 drops tea tree oil in an aroma lamp or humidifier in the child’s bedroom overnight when they’re suffering from a cold or respiratory infection.

About the Author

Caryn Windfield is an aromatherapist, herbalist and founder of The Modern Herbal, a natural medicine and alternative health blog focusing on the use of herbs, essential oils and home remedies.

1 reply
  1. Lela
    Lela says:

    I have a four year old son who stays restless all the time. I will definitely have to try the neroli or Roman chamomile essential oil. Very useful information. Thanks for the tip.

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