Can You Diffuse Essential Oils Around Kids? A Pediatric Expert Weighs In
When it comes to using certain products in your home, it's always worth exercising a little extra caution around your kids—and essential oils are no exception. While many adults know how satisfying it is to diffuse lavender oil for calm or eucalyptus oil for a quick pick-me-up, are these concentrated scents safe for children? We asked an expert.
Is it safe to diffuse essential oils around kids?
Essential oils are generally safe to diffuse around children of all ages, integrative pediatric mental health expert Roseann Capanna-Hodge, Ed.D., LPC, tells mbg.
In fact, she adds, "Essential oils have medicinal properties, so they can be incredibly helpful for soothing the nerves of children." Research has also found that they have the potential to soothe youngsters' skin1. Nevertheless, as with using any substance around children, she adds, you'll want to exercise caution.
First of all, be sure to keep your EO bottles out of reach of your children so they don't accidentally get into them. Oils are potent and can be dangerous if inhaled or applied directly to the skin.
"Certain essential oils such as cinnamon2 and thyme3 can irritate the mucous membranes when diffused," adds Capanna-Hodge. To protect this important barrier, you may want to keep more pungent, spicy-smelling oils in your bedroom as opposed to common areas.
If you notice that your child is beginning to cough or get the sniffles once you turn on your diffuser, that's a sign they might be having a reaction to the oils. Turn off your machine and place it in another room, or smell the oils out of the bottle for a personal EO experience.
To be extra safe, the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians has said that it's best not to diffuse oils around children under three months of age.
Some things to keep in mind.
While you should be OK diffusing most oils around kids, Capanna-Hodge offers a few other helpful tips to make sure you're doing so safely.
For starters, use an essential oil diffuser and do not put the oils in a humidifier or anything that isn't explicitly labeled as essential oil safe. If a machine's plastic isn't strong enough to handle the oils, it might degrade over time.
She adds that essential oils should also never be applied directly to the skin of children without first being diluted in a carrier oil.
And at the end of the day, diffusing essential oils is usually a lot safer than spraying chemical-laden air fresheners around your home. Those should "definitely be avoided around children," Capanna-Hodge says. In the case of candles, she adds that high-quality candles with natural oils are a good alternative to candles with synthetic fragrances.
The bottom line.
Essential oils are usually safe to diffuse around kids, and their smell can actually be quite helpful for soothing them. However, Capanna-Hodge says it's always a good idea to double-check with your family's pediatrician when it comes to your children's specific needs.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.