I’ve had a couple of requests for balms and essential oil blends that are safe for children so I thought it would be a good project to tackle. Aromatherapy for children can be perfectly safe and may be a good assist to traditional medicine in cases of illness or annoying coughs and colds that linger.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when making natural products for children is the essential oils you use. Not all essential oils are suitable for kids, particularly toddlers and babies. Stick to very mild essential oils such as lavender, geranium and chamomile. You can also use eucalyptus in small amounts, clary sage, citrus oils such as orange, lemon or lime (keeping in mind that these can cause photosensitivity so don’t send your kids straight out into the sun), dill, juniper berry, vanilla and spearmint. Cinnamon leaf (not bark) is also nice but use sparingly to prevent irritation as it is a warming oil.
Here is a guide to essential oils that are safe to use on children.
Stick to very small amounts of essential oils, about 0.5% of a formula, for children 2 years and younger - so 2 drops in every 4 tablespoons of carrier/body wash/balm. Diffusing the essential oils is perfectly safe too. It is not recommended to use essential oils on babies of 3 months or younger; rather use gentle hydrosols.
Catnip - supports relaxation and restful sleep. It is also ideal to use in a child and pet friendly bug spray.
Chamomile - has a lovely scent and is gentle, soothing and calming. A must-have for kid-friendly DIY products!
Cinnamon leaf (NB not bark) - lovely warming, spicy scent to diffuse during the holidays. May have a warming effect when applied topically.
Clary sage - a gentle oil that can help to calm and induce sleep.
Geranium - useful for various skin conditions, geranium is gentle enough even for small children.
Juniper berry - calming and supports respiratory function.
Lavender - calming, soothes bites, irritations, cuts and sunburn. Another must-have.
Spearmint - a scent children will recognise from minty toothpaste, spearmint is also helpful for digestion and bronchial conditions.
Vanilla - a lovely sweet scent that kids will enjoy.
Children of 3 - 6 years can have up to 1% essential oils in a formula (so 4 drops per 4 tablespoons).
All essential oils above plus:
Jasmine absolute - calming.
Ylang ylang - calming and relaxing.
Lemongrass - good for use in natural insect repellents and air fresheners. An adaptogen essential oil.
Peppermint - max usage 0.5% otherwise use spearmint. Relaxes passages, anti-inflammatory and helps fight viruses.
Eucalyptus - for respiratory issues and to help open up the chest for easier breathing.
Children of 6 to 10 years can handle 1.5% essential oils in a formula (6 drops per 4 tablespoons).
All essential oils above plus:
Rosemary - helpful for memory, improved cognitive function and relief of headaches. Also for colds and flu relief.
Children above 10 should be capable of handling any essential oils and as much as an adult, but do still be careful and always spot-test and dilute essential oils.
Whether you want to diffuse oils or apply directly, here are some wonderful essential oil blends for various purposes. Add the essential oils according to the usage instructions appropriate for the age of your children, and blend with a simple carrier oil such as sweet almond, grapeseed, macadamia (not for those with nut allergies), safflower, or any oil of your choice. Add everything to a bottle and shake to combine. Warm in your hands then massage into chest, back or the affected area, add to a cream base or balm, or add directly to your diffuser or humidifier.
Cold & Flu Relief:
1 drop each of rosemary, peppermint/spearmint, cinnamon leaf, lemon and lavender.
Juniper berry, eucalyptus, peppermint/spearmint and lavender, 1 drop each.
Calm & Sleep:
Roman chamomile, lavender, 1 drop ylang ylang, 1 drop clary sage.
Any citrus oil such as orange, mandarin or naartjie, chamomile and vanilla.
Lavender, rosemary and you can add in a drop of two of tea tree.
Balms are simply oils and butter blends combined with essential oils. They are a nice consistency to rub into skin and tend to soak in a bit quicker than massage oils. They are 100% free of any nasties, preservatives and artificial ingredients and are suitable for everyone from babies to adults as well as those with very sensitive skin.
Perfect for soothing and calming inflamed skin, razor or nappy rash, or just as a good moisturiser, this four-ingredient chamomile balm can be made normally but I really like it whipped for a fluffier texture!
2 T avocado butter
1 T shea butter
1-2 tsp arrowroot powder
Few drops of chamomile essential oil
Melt the avo and shea butters together. Allow them to cool, then add in the chamomile and a teaspoon of arrowroot powder. Start whipping (I whip this by hand with a fork but it is quite hard work so you may want to use a blender or milk frother). Add in more arrowroot as you go and continue whipping as the oils cool down until you get a nice thick fluffy texture.
With a deliciously fun choc-orange scent that kids will love, this simple balm is ideal for moisturising young skins that have taken some sun or winter frost.
3 T cocoa butter (you can also do half cocoa half shea butter here if you want)
orange essential oil
I find it easier to work with cocoa butter if I grate it finely first. Melt it in a water bath over simmering water then stir in the carrier oil and essential oil. Pour into a tin and leave to set.
This easy balm is more traditional, made with beeswax, and completely flop proof. Add in your child’s favourite essential oil or an oil blend for congestion, flu relief or sleep. You can also use it as a lip balm, body moisturiser or a cuticle balm - it is multipurpose!
1 T cocoa butter or other butter
2 T coconut oil
3 T jojoba oil
1 ½ - 2 tsp beeswax pellets
5 drops essential oil(s) of choice, or use one of the essential oil blends above
Set up a water bath and melt the beeswax, butter and oils together gently. Once melted, add in your essential oils and stir through to combine, then quickly pour into a tin and leave to set. Rub into chest and back.
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