Essential oils for kids

Leading UK aromatherapist, Allison England tells Time Out Kids her top 10 treatments for children

Bestselling author of Aromatherapy and Massage for Mother and Baby, Allison England, a former nurse and mum of five, has spent 30 years researching the benefits of essential oils.

Easy to use, they can help treat a range of kiddie conditions, provided you know what you’re doing. Here, Allison shares her tips.

Cuts and scrapes

Junior’s howling his head off after grazing his elbow and a swab of surgical spirit will send him into orbit. There must be a gentler solution? Make a wound wash using 250ml of warm water and two drops of lavender oil. If you can’t get hold of lavender, try one drop of tea tree oil instead. Both have antiseptic, antibiotic and pain relieving properties. Mix well and then dab over the scrape.

Tummy aches

Little Sara’s bunged up with painful wind, but she’s too young for most over-the-counter medicines. An abdominal massage works wonders for most minor gastrointestinal gripes caused by constipation. Mix one drop of mandarin and one drop of Roman camomile oil into 100ml of a carrier oil such as pure sunflower or apricot oil. Gently massage the lower abdomen in clockwise circular movements for up to five minutes. Suitable for infants aged four months and over.

Nappy rash

While fresh air is best for nappy rash, it’s not exactly practical, unless you’re on hand with a mop and bucket. Treatments containing calendula or shea butter are an excellent alternative, and a soothing essential oil bath also brings instant relief. Dissolve one drop of German Camomile in a cup of warm, full fat milk, mix well and add to baby’s bath. Suitable for infants aged four months and over.

Sleepy heads

Can’t get the little monsters to sleep? Perhaps jetlag has scuppered their routine and now everyone is suffering.Roman camomile, mandarin, neroli and lavender are all great for promoting restful sleep (only use one oil at a time). Put five drops on a heated Aromastone in their room half an hour before bed. Or, add four to five drops to a 30ml pump spray atomiser filled with warm water. Shake it well and mist the room before they enter. An older child can have a foot massage using two drops of essential oils (neroli is especially good for kids aged 18 months and over) mixed into 30ml of a carrier oil.


It’s making your toddler miserable, but you don’t want to keep dosing him up with pain killers. Make a compress by adding two drops of Roman camomile to 300ml of warm water. Mix well, lay a cloth on top, squeeze it out, hold it against their ear and repeat. Alternatively, massage can help. Add one drop Roman camomile and one drop of lavender to 30ml of carrier oil and use a little of this mixture to gently massage around back of ear, jaw line and neck on the affected side. If the earache is severe and accompanied by a fever, seek medical advice.

Beating the bugs

Lots of coughs and sneezes flying about? Make sure your rugrats don’t miss a day’s school by purifying the air in your home. Manuka, eucalyptus, lemon, bergamot and tea-tree are all excellent bug-beaters. Cleanse your home by popping a few drops of the oils in a bowl of warm water in the corner of the room, or use a pump spray atomiser filled with water and four to five drops of your chosen oil. A few drops of glycerine holds the particles in the air for a longer period.

Easy air travel

A long haul flight with a tearful toddler is every parent’s worst nightmare. Mix two drops of neroli and two drops of Roman camomile in a 30ml pump spray bottle filled with warm water. Shake and spritz three times every couple of hours (this will work wonders on nearby passengers too). Alternatively, create a pulse point treatment using 10ml of carrier oil, a drop of neroli and a drop of Roman camomile. Shake the bottle and apply a dab in a place where they can’t lick it or get it in their eyes.

Bumps and bruises

Naughty Johnny’s fallen off a gaff tree and bumped his knee. Put two drops of Arnica tincture or lavender or geranium oil in 250ml of water. Mix well, soak a flannel and apply gently to the bruised area, holding it in place for a few minutes.

Dry skin

Over-the-counter baby creams that promise ‘purity’ seem to aggravate the problem and are loaded with preservatives to give products a longer shelf life. Try instead two drops of rose oil in a carrier oil of either sunflower or jojoba, as both are rich in vitamins and help maintain the skin’s natural barriers.

The grumps

A moody five-year-old is no-one’s idea of fun, but tantrums can be caused by anxiety, which is easily soothed. We’ve all experienced the horrible memories evoked by the scent of over-boiled cabbage served at school lunches, so why not create positive smells which can boost their mood if they’re down? A gentle foot massage before bed, using two drops of rose or mandarin in 30ml of carrier oil is incredibly soothing, and the next time they smell it in a stressful situation it will help chill them out.
Essential oils available online from or at Neal’s Yard Remedies, Wafi Mall (04 324 5141).

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