Essential Oils for Babies: Safety + How to Use Them

Updated: December 29, 2020
Essential oils have become the latest craze in natural remedies, but are they safe for your baby? We provide an overview to the top safety tips for using essential oils with babies and a list of our favorite blends and remedies for common ailments like colic, colds, cough, and congestion.
Best essential oils for babies

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Essential oils have become the latest craze in natural remedies, but are they safe for your baby? We provide an overview of top safety tips for the use of essential oils with babies and a list of our favorite blends and remedies for common ailments.

More: 7 Home Remedies to Soothe Cold and Flu Symptoms

While essential oils have recently become popular for in-home use, they’ve been used in medicine long before the invention of the diffuser, and many of them could be beneficial for your little one. Whether your baby is teething or having trouble sleeping, there may be an essential oil that can help.

Best Essential Oils for Babies

Many essential oils on the market are heavily contaminated or adulterated with synthetic chemicals. We recommend doTERRA essential oils because they are completely natural and safe. They are also pure, which is extremely important when it comes to choosing essential oils.

We recommend the doTERRA Family Essential Kit. With over ten essential oils included, it gives you the best bang for your buck and will last a long time.

Essential Oils for Baby Colds

Eucalyptus

Many of the common vapor and chest rubs on the market contain eucalyptus (eucalyptus radiata) not just for the uplifting scent, but for the benefits! It was found in a 2010 Alternative Medicine Review study that eucalyptol, one of the key compounds in eucalyptus oil, has an antimicrobial effect to ward off illness. Try gently rubbing this blend onto your baby’s throat and chest for some relief.

Another Essential Oil Recipe for Baby Colds: Blend 3 drops of ravintsara, 1 drop of niaouli, 1 drop of ho wood, and 1 drop of thyme linalol. Then use 1 or 2 drops in a diffuser for aromatherapy.

Essential Oils for Teething

Chamomile and Lavender

Teething can be a painful time for your infant, but a gentle jawline massage or diffuser blend can help soothe some of the pain associated with teething. Try a blend of chamomile (matricaria chamomilla or chamaemelum nobile) or lavender (lavandula angustifolia) and carrier oil along the jawline, or a few drops each in the diffuser to ease their pain.

Another Essential Oil Recipe for Teething: Dilute 6 drops of chamomile roman in 5 teaspoons of carrier oil or aloe vera gel. Mix well and let it stand for 24 hours. Take 1 teaspoon of this, add it to a glass tumbler and fill with approximately 30 mL of cold aloe vera gel. After stirring well, wipe it along your baby’s jawline.

Essential Oils for Baby Insomnia

Lavender and Citrus Oils

Sleepless nights for your little one usually mean sleepless nights for you, too. Try a calming oil massage with lavender essential oil (lavandula angustifolia), mandarin (citrus reticulata) or chamomile (matricaria chamomilla or chamaemelum nobile), or one of these diffuser blends:

Another Essential Oil Recipe for Baby Insomnia: For one day on and one day off for eight days, place a bowl of hot water on the floor in the room but away from the baby. Add in 1 drop of chamomile roman and 1 drop of lavender oil.

Essential Oils for Colic

Roman Chamomile and Lavender

Colic can cause fussiness for your baby, but chamomile (matricaria chamomilla or chamaemelum nobile) or lavender (lavandula angustifolia) can be effective in reducing the pain they’re experiencing. A 2012 study from the International Journal of Nursing Practice found lavender oil massages useful in reducing the symptoms of colic.

Another Essential Oil Recipe for Colic: Dilute 1 drop of coriander seed in 1 tablespoon of carrier oil. Rub into the middle portion of your baby’s back.

Essential Oils for Baby Congestion

Eucalyptus

Is your baby a little on the stuffy side? Unclog respiratory congestion with eucalyptus (eucalyptus radiata) for clearer days ahead, or try a diffuser blend of frankincense, lavender and lemon in a large, open room. Essential oils have amazing healing properties, but it's important to use essential oils that are safe around kids. This baby-safe essential oil blend works wonderfully!

Another Essential Oil Recipe for Baby Congestion: Blend 1-2 drops of frankincense, 1-2 drops of lavender oil, and 1-2 drops of lemon oil. Add them to your diffuser.

Essential Oils for Diaper Rash

Melaleuca

Tea tree (melaleuca alternifolia) is a natural antimicrobial that can help soothe diaper rashes when blended with an unscented base oil. Since tea tree oil is on the stronger side, it should not be used on infants under six months, and should always be patch tested first.

Another Essential Oil Recipe for Diaper Rash: Dip clean cotton wool in a bowl of warm water that is mixed with either 1 drop of chamomile german or 1 drop of lavender essential oil. Use this to wash your baby’s bottom.

Essential Oils for Baby Bug Bites

Lavender

Mosquito season? Lavender oil (lavandula angustifolia) can help relieve itchiness from insect bites when topically applied with a carrier oil. Perfect to keep in mind for parents, too!

Another Essential Oil Recipe for Baby Mosquito Bites: Fill a spray bottle with water. Mix 2 drops of lavender oil in 2 drops of a liquid carrier oil per ounce of water and then shake it up. Spray directly on to the bug bite while keeping it away from your baby’s face.

Which Essential Oils Are Safe For My Baby?

Since the options available today are plentiful, make sure that the oils you’re purchasing are pure and authentic, without any alcohol or synthetic fragrances which can be irritating to you or your baby and don’t carry any health benefits.

The first step in ensuring essential oil safety is to select quality oils. Essential oils are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and research studies about their safety have been limited, so be sure to check any essential oil label list that you are considering for purchase first.

Do not purchase an essential oil with a label list that does not contain all of the following: the name of the plant, the Latin name of the plant, the part of the plant used to make the oil, the country of origin, and how the oil was extracted.

Although there are definitive safety guidelines to follow in essential oil use, there have also been scientific studies that have demonstrated just how powerful and helpful they can be in health care and wellness practices. For example, oils from garlic and other plants can help to fight persistent Lyme disease, peppermint can alleviate symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and tea tree oil or melaleuca can help with acne, athlete’s foot, and insect bites.

Not Sure Which Essential Oils to Buy?

We recommend the doTERRA Family Essential Kit. With over ten essential oils included, it gives you the best bang for your buck and will last a long time. Get it here.

If you're not quite ready to dive into the world of essential oils, we recommend the starter kit. Get it here.

Application and Safety Tips for Using Essential Oils on Babies

When creating an essential oil blend, generally 0.5% essential oil to carrier oil, perform a patch test on your baby’s leg or arm to ensure it won’t irritate them. Essential oils can make all the difference for pregnant women, babies, and children. 

Also, keep the following safety tips in mind:

  • Dilution is essential before applying essential oils directly to your baby’s skin. Using undiluted oil can lead to skin irritation and other adverse reactions in young children. Diluted oil can be added into lotion or a carrier oil such as coconut oil or almond oil.
  • Never use peppermint oil on children less than 30 months of age as it can contribute to a reaction of seizures.
  • Never use essential oils near a heat source.
  • Essential oils are safe to inhale, but not to ingest so be careful to prevent accidental ingestion.
  • Do not use essential oils near the ears, eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • At bath time, never add undiluted essential oil directly into bath water.
  • If someone swallows an essential oil or a product that contains essential oil, call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 right away.

Diffusing any of these blends or single oils can help safely fragrance your home, but make sure it’s one that’s safe for your pets to be around, too! As always, consult with your pediatrician for medical advice should you have questions about the way a certain oil or blend could interact with your baby’s medication or medical conditions.