Aromatherapy and Your Baby

Aromatherapy deals with plant oil extracts in their natural state before they are chemically altered. Smell has always been a powerful instinct and aromatherapy works hand in hand with the senses helping to heal, relax and improve mood.

Aromatherapy can be a wonderful addition to your tool  kit of healing modalities for your family. From the moment they are born, babies can enjoy the therapeutic effects of essential oils. Great caution must be taken though, as these oils are extremely concentrated and must be properly diluted before use.

There are many essential oils which are not appropriate for use with babies. The essential oils mentioned here are safe for use with babies provided they are used appropriately.

Essential oils are extracted most often by distilling seeds, flowers, peal, zest, grass, leaves, roots, and the wood of plants.

Different parts of the plant give different oils; An Orange tree, for example, gives us orange from the fruit and neroli from the flower.

Consider these cautions and storage guidelines when purchasing commercial aromatherapy products.

Cautions when using aromatherapy

Great caution should be exercised when using essential oils on babies under three months of age. They are still developing in many ways and are adjusting to life outside the womb. Essential oils are too strong in most instances to use at this stage.

Here are the important safety precautions:

  • Never give oils internally and don’t use them directly on the skin (blend them first- this is very important, they can burn sensative skin if not properly diluted)
  • Don’t use oils in or too close to the eyes. If any oil accidentally gets in the eyes, flush with milk rather than water.
  • If any irritation occurs, discontinue use.
  • Always check for contra-indications and make sure the oil you are using is safe to use on babies.
  • Avoid using essential oils for babies that have a medical condition that would be aggravated by the use of the particular essential oils.

Proper storage of essential oils:

  • Make sure they are tightly sealed in dark glass bottles.
  • Store them away from the effects of heat and light to help them maintain their potency
  • Keep them out of reach of children, poisoning can occur if ingested.

How to use essential oils with babies

There are many schools of thought here. I take a middle of the road approach but I encourage you to use your own judgement. Some aromatherapists say that essentials oils should not be used on a baby under 12 months. Most agree that oils should be used very sparingly for babies under 3 months. 1 drop is adequate, if you use them at all:

How to give the oils:

Massage- Always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil before using on the skin, they can cause skin irritation. The safest carrier oils to use with babies are olive, jojoba, grape-seed, avocado, apricot kernel and wheat-germ oils . Nut oils should not be used until 12 months of age in case of severe allergic reaction.

Recommended dose:
3 months and under- 1 drop of essential oil in 2 T of base oil
3-24 months- 2 drops essential oil in 2 T of base oil

Bathing – Disperse oils in 1/3 of a cup of milk then add to your baby’s bath just before turning off the taps.

Recommended dose:
3 months and under – Add 1 drop essential oil to bath
3-24 months 2 or 3 drops can be added depending on the child’s size and sensitivity

Inhalation- Add 1 drop of your chosen essential oil to your baby’s pyjamas, bedding or put it on a cotton bud and place in the cot.

Oil burners and diffusers- Do not use a diffuser until the child is 4 weeks or older as a diffuser tends to ensure that every last molecule of essential oil is sent into the air and babies need a very gentle approach.

You can put your chosen oil in a bowl of hot water and place this in a safe place, well out of reach of the baby and other children and then allow the molecules to gently escape into the air as the water cools so that not all of the molecules will escape. This will give a much more gentle fragrance.

This is an excellent method when babies and children have colds.

Electric diffusers are great to use all around the house when you baby is older than 1 month.

Safe oils to use with babies

Most aromatherapists believe the following oils are considered safe to use with newborns:

  • Lavender
  • Chamomile
  • Geranium
  • Yarrow
  • Dill

From 3 months old on, you can also use:

  • Mandarin
  • Eucalyptus
  • Coriander
  • Neroli

After 6 months you can add:

  • Palma Rosa
  • Calendula
  • Grapefruit
  • Ginger
  • Tea Tree

To learn which oils to use for specific conditions please refer to the illness you wish to help in the Common Challenges of the First Year section. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, email for suggestions.

42 thoughts on “Aromatherapy and Your Baby

  1. The whole article is all about the Aromatherpy and this information is really good for our baby health. We should read this article carefully and considered the tips which mentioned here. Hope, these tips are very useful for us.

  2. Hi – my daughter is really congested and I have been advised to use Eucalyptus oil in a diffuser in her room. She has just turned 1. I have had conflicting advice on whether this is safe for her. Please advise.


  3. I just purchased my first diffuser at our local grocery store.. it came with lavender and I purchased peppermint.. and I able to use this with have a 3month old baby?? We also have 4,8,10 year old

  4. I have an essential oil diffuser from Sage which tells me to put 10-15 drops into approximately 1 cup of water. Is this okay for baby of 7+ months? Should I be putting less drops in the diffuser? The oil is a mixture of grapefruit, bergamot, orange, lime, and mandarin.

    1. Hi Shem,
      Thanks for your question. That’s a lovely blend for a baby, citrus are quite gentle oils. 10- 15 drops in one cup for a disfuser sounds quite good to me, I would start with 10 and see if that suits you. Increase it if required.
      Wishing you and your bub all the best xx

  5. Consider the health of the family members before buying the right essential oil diffusers so that it could not harm any members of the family. Read its pros and cons of the product before buying one.

  6. At what age can lemongrass be safely used with babies and children?

    What side effects may occur? Which are the most dangerous effects and/or essential oils to avoid?

    Can you recommend the brands that sell the purist, safest oils?

  7. I see you have eucalyptus listed as safe after three months, but I’ve read elsewhere that it should be avoided for children under 10 years. Which is correct? Are the risks (slowed breathing) being overstated? Thanks.

  8. This is what I’m really looking for. Thank you so much for sharing. It’s very detail and useful, especially your cautions. My baby really like the eucalyptic flavor and it works well for her. And if you know anything about essential oil for pets, can you share it? Thanks again.

  9. Thank you very much for writing such an interesting article on this topic. This has really made me think and I hope to read more.

  10. Thank for your share ! Just want to ask do we need to place a Diffuser far from our baby? Like put it in corner or somewhere ? Do you think the diffuser may harm a baby if we put it too close?

  11. Using milk to add EO while bathing the baby is a new idea, have never heard of it. My girl is 3+ , and I give her a massage of oilve and jojoba oil blend after bath, hope that is safe. Also I wish to know how the EO can be ingested, the amount and process for a toddler.

    1. Hi Melissa,

      Massage of olive and jojoba after a bath is great for a toddler 🙂 I’m not sure where you’re located but in Australia which is where I am, essential oils are only allowed to sold for external use only so I can’t give any recommendations for ingesting EOs. Using EOs internally is common in parts of Europe and here are some companies in the US that make and market oils for this purpose so there should be some useful information out there on the topic. I personally would not use essential oils internally with a child because they are highly concentrated and there have been cases of nuerotoxicty reported. I feel that there are safer ways to apply the oils through the skin (massage or bath) and lungs (inhalations) rather than the digestive system and I would choose one of those for a toddler. But… because of Australia’s restrictions on essential oils for external use only, I haven’t been trained in using them internally and my hesitancy in this may be unfounded.
      Best of luck with it! I’d be interested in knowing what you find out 🙂

  12. Thank you so much for your great post Julie! I used to think that essential oils is just for adults but I am wrong. I wonder if there is any difference of ability to absorb aromatherapy between boys and girls even if they’re just babies. Your information will be really useful for me.

    1. Hmmm… My initial reaction was “of course there’s no difference in absorption of EOs between boys and girls”, but you never really know until you go digging for research. And the answer I’ve come up with is maybe. Absorption changes depending on he thickness of the skin, body temperature, how many hair follicles or sweat glads are present on the area you apply the oil to. Since those factors are largely dependent on the individual and some of them are dependent on gender, it is possible that there is a difference in absorption of the oil between males and females. There are no studies that I could find in a search of my university library, pubmed or google scholar to give a definitive answer though. As for inhalation, there are gender differences in the lungs but these are more pronounced after puberty. Males have more lung tissue than females which means that there is more surface area and more of the tiny little blood vessels that absorb the things we inhale. So males may have the upper hand at absorbing EOs through the lungs but probably not as babies and even as adults, I think the differences would be minimal. There are no studies available specifically on EOs that demonstrate this, my conclusion is extrapolation from studies of other inhaled medications. An interesting question, thanks for that one 🙂

    1. Sorry to take so long to reply to this, I missed it till now.
      Yes, you can. 1-2 drops works well and is a nice gentle way to use essential oils with babies.

    2. Yes, you can, this is a great way to deliver EOs. Follow the same principles as if you were using an oil burner. There is no need to increase the dosage but you may need to add doses of oil more frequently. You could top it up every hour or so if need be.

  13. Hello,

    I’ve read that frankincense aids sleep.. so I’m just wondering if it is safe to use a few drops of this diluted with water in an oil burner for my 5 month old son?

    Thanks 🙂

  14. I just bought a diffuser for my son who is 13mos old 11mos adjusted. I decided to start an aromatherapy journey with him because of his upper respiratory infection. How many drops should I put in the diffuser for him?

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