Are Essential Oils Safe for Kids?

Essential oils are so popular that you probably have some in your house right now. Maybe you use them in a diffuser, add them to your laundry, or enjoy them in homemade spa products. You might also inhale them, rub them on your skin, or put them on your children’s feet or stomachs. 

Think twice about using them with your kids. Essential oils come from the bark, leaves, fruit, flowers, and seeds of many, many plants. 

Most essential oils are unregulated

Although there are some standards for specific essential oils in Europe, the U.S. generally doesn’t regulate essential oils. That means that anyone can make and sell essential oils containing anything they want. There is no legal definition or requirement for most oils.

You literally do not know what you’re getting when you buy essential oils. 

Natural products are inconsistent

Companies selling essential oils usually source them from different countries, different farms, labs, and suppliers in general. Rarely do they grow and distill their own oils. 

The strength and properties of oils depend on the specific strain of the plant, the soil it’s grown in, the amount of water and nutrients the plants receive, and even the other plants growing nearby. 

The oil is distilled from the plants in a lab or workshop using various methods, including chemical processes. Then, since most oils are not regulated, the makers might add other chemicals before shipping the oils to the distributer.

Generally speaking, you  can’t be sure of the potency of essential oils even if you grow and distill them yourself at home. 

Essential oils can be poisonous

The National Poison Control center says clearly that essential oils can be toxic. Children have more delicate systems and are physically smaller than adults, so a very small amount of a toxic oil can be dangerous for infants and young children.

There has not been extensive research on all kinds of essential oils. Studies of specific oils and populations have turned up worrying results.

The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne points out that various essential oils can damage mucous membranes, cause stomach upsets, or cause rashes on the skin. If a child tries to drink essential oils, he or she may choke and breathe in the oil, which can lead to aspiration pneumonia. A children’s hospital in Toronto tracked children brought into the hospital after use of two particularly dangerous essential oils and found hundreds of health issues, including one death.

In addition, a U.S.government study, also of two popular essential oils, found that the use of these oils led to hormonal disruption in children, including the formation of breasts in boys.

The bottom line

Researchers agree that more research is required. However, it is fair to say that essential oils are not entirely safe for children. It isn’t worth the possible dangers to use them. 

If you want to know about the use of particular essential oils for your children, please ask your pediatrician. It’s better to be safe than sorry!