In my experience as an aromatherapist, I have found that most children take amazingly well to aromatherapy. They are refreshingly honest in their opinions and will quickly tell you if they don't like a particular aroma! They also respond quickly to the benefits of the oils. It is as if, because they have not yet been subjected to the many toxins and chemicals that most of us have been exposed to for years, their bodies have a clearer and quicker reaction.

But there are some cautions that apply particularly to children and should be borne in mind to keep our precious little people safe.

- Never leave any essential oil where a child can get to it. They are best stored in a locked cupboard out of reach. A cool dark place is also best for the oils themselves.

- Always buy essential oils in bottles with an integrated dripolator, rather than an eyedropper. A dripolator will restrict the rate at which essential oils can come out of the bottle even when the cap is off, whereas once an eyedropper cap is removed the top of the bottle is fully open.

- Always refer to a reputable aromatherapy book written specifically for treating children or consult a qualified aromatherapist, before deciding which oils to use. Many essential oils are simply too strong for children.

- Most recipes are designed for adults and will be too concentrated for children. Always reduce the amount of essential oil recommended by at least half (or even more for very young children - use a quarter or less of the recommend dosage). Remember, children respond well to even low dilutions - less is more.

- Never use essential oils in a bath without mixing them in a dispersant. Simple dispersants include full cream milk (not low fat) or cream or even honey. Mix the oils into a tablespoon of any of these before adding to the bath. If you add essential oils directly to a bath they will float on the surface and can be picked up by little fingers to find their way to eyes or mouths. Essential oils can also be diluted in carrier/vegetable oils before adding to the bath. This is a good method for dry skin, but can make your bath slippery. It is therefore not the best method for children and should be used with great care.

- Never use a vaporiser with a naked flame in children's bedrooms or anywhere where children can reach them. Much better to use a waterless electric vaporiser, which will not get very hot and cannot burn. Children should still not be left unsupervised near these in case they touch the oil and get on their skin.

My top 5 essential oils for children are -

Lavender(Lavandula angustifolia) - a most versatile oil, relaxing and gentle. A drop mixed in a bowl of warm water is also useful for bathing minor cut and grazes.

Chamomile Roman(Anthemis nobilis) - from the same plant we use for chamomile tea, so very calming and soothing.

Mandarin (Citrus reticulata)- a very sweet "happy" citrus smell, mildly relaxing and calming.

Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)- an uplifting, balancing and cleansing oil.

Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiata) - antiseptic and very useful when coughs and colds are around. A few drops in a vaporiser will help to clear the air.

(This information is meant as general advice. Please consult your health practitioner or a qualified aromatherapist for advice on your specific situation.)

Author's Bio: 

Wendy Mackay is a qualified Aromatherapist and member of the International Aromatherapy and Aromatic Medicine Association (IAAMA). Wendy and her husband David run Essence of Wellbeing a successful Aromatherapy & Massage Supply and Pure Natural Skin Care business, based in Mornington, Victoria, Australia. Mornington is located on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula about one hour SE of Melbourne.

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