Can I Use Essential Oils For My Child?

By Dr. Laurel Murphy Hoffmann, MD, MPH

By Dr. Laurel Murphy Hoffmann, MD, MPH

Smells are powerfully linked to memories.  In the words of Rudyard Kipling, "smells are surer than sounds and sights to make the heartstrings crack."

Aromas can transport us to a walk in the woods when we sniff a candle.  Rose essential oil can take us back to a sunny summer afternoon.  Chamomile tea might make you drowsy from just a few sips due to the aroma that reminds you of bedtime.  Here are some tips for essential oil use - ways to enjoy them and keep kids safe at the same time.


Bedtimes can be easier if you do the same simple schedule every single night.  You can incorporate lavender into your child’s bedtime routine by adding a few drops of lavender oil to plain moisturizer (thick creams that come in tubs, like Cetaphil, Eucerin, or Vanicream).  Use this lavender lotion before putting on pajamas and read books, so your child starts to connect the scent to bedtime.    


There is interesting research being done in aromatherapy, including this paper looking at aromatherapy as pain control for blood sugar monitoring in diabetic children.  While there was no difference in reported pain levels, the decrease in heart rate in the aromatherapy group larger than the non-aromatherapy group.


Essential oils are NOT for eating or drinking.  Be careful with oils on skin - if you notice a rash, itchiness, or other unwanted changes after use, stop using them.  Only purchase oils that come in child-proof containers (like the protective lids that are on medications).  Store them in a safe place away from little hands--as Dr. Fish reminded us in our last post, childproof containers are anything but childproof.  

Something you can do right this minute to keep your household safe is to program the Poison Center into your phone.  1-800-222-1222 Will connect you with the nearest center of experts on toxins and they can direct you on what to do next in the event of an ingestion or other concerning exposure to essential oils.

Keeping the number for the Oregon Poison Center handy is a great way to help protect your children

Keeping the number for the Oregon Poison Center handy is a great way to help protect your children

In Summary

While formal studies of essential oil use in children may be lacking, we here at Pacific Crest Children's Urgent Care respect that there are certainly ways to use these oils safely.  We also respect the right of parents to choose what's best for their child(ren).  And there is definitely room for more rigorous study of aromatherapy to help us all better understand how and why these interventions may help our little ones.  Thanks for the topic suggestion.  As always, be safe and everyone please have a very nice rest of the holiday season.  

Corey FishSafetyComment