I do believe that we all have different parenting styles and that it’s better if moms stick together rather than worry about whether another mom is breastfeeding or bottle feeding, cloth diapering or using disposables, cosleeping or not cosleeping, and on and on. There are times, however, when I see something that looks dangerous and I can’t help but speak up.
I don’t know if I ever would have found this hashtag on my own, but after someone shared their frustration with seeing it come up, I had to see it for myself. I could not turn away from the horrific images I was seeing on Instagram when I searched on the hashtags of #oilybaby and #oilybabies. I’ve selected some to share here and to talk about why these pics and videos are not just pictures of cute babies and small kids.
These are in no particular order, except in the order that I discovered them to share them with you here.
UPDATE: After two moms have asked me to remove images from this post, I have decided to leave only descriptions instead for all of them. I was half expecting this to happen, but more hoping that some of these Instagram posters would instead remove the photo from their public feed. Better yet, that they would consider getting further education on the safe use of essential oils. As far as I know all of these photos are still up on Instagram at the time of this update. Aromahead has a great free Introduction to Essential Oils class that I’d recommend to anyone just starting out.
My intention of this post was not at all to publically shame moms for using essential oils in an unsafe way with their kids. Moms get enough shaming and it’s rarely helpful to anyone. The thing is that some of these posts had other Instagram members commenting and asking for advice on how to do the same thing with their kids. These images are carrying misinformation across the world wide web and the potential harm to children is immeasurable. These moms used hashtags to draw more attention to their posts.
I do not think that any of these Instagrams posts were moms intentionally harming their children. I don’t doubt that they deeply love their children and want the best for them. Moms love essential oils because they are using something natural to keep themselves and their children healthy. Natural, however, does not mean without caution or risk. People often say, “Poison ivy is natural, but I wouldn’t go rubbing it all over my body.” I applaud any mom that looks at alternate ways to stay healthy. It’s why I’m a Certified Aromatherapist and Reiki practitioner and why I am going to school for homeopathy and herbal medicine. Essential oils are not the only way, they are one way, and not always the right way for every situation (especially oils that are not safe for kids). I’m hoping that these moms that so obviously love their kids will look more deeply at the safety of essential oils (beyond education from the company where they buy their oils).
For any moms that are doing some of the things you will see described below, I beg of you to open your mind to learn about safe use of essential oils with your kids (and yourself). If you can do this, then I’m sure that you will see that safe use is:
- Just as effective
- Will most likely save you money (less is more!)
Just over a year ago I was re-introduced to essential oils, bought a starter kit from a large company and was told to use RC and peppermint on my then, 4-year-old when he had a cold. We were both sick. I was exhausted and just wanted to sleep and someone I trusted told me it was safe. I did it that night and then next day I began to question. It didn’t seem to help him much and I didn’t even know what was in the RC that I’d just put on him. I still went and bought the starter kit. After I spent close to $200 on the kit, I started doing research which led me to return my kit, interview over 20 essential oil companies, and attend Aromahead Institute where I became a Certified Aromatherapist.
Although I’ve removed all of the embedded images and videos from this post, the information is still important. I’m staying up late on a Saturday night so that I can write descriptions and hope that this message gets through to the person that is just getting the excitement of discovering essential oils and especially to moms to learn that there is a safer way!
1. The menthol in peppermint can cause breathing issues in small children and is not recommended to use on kids younger than five or six years old. The child pictured here is clearly not older than five years old.
Photo Description: This was a picture of a young boy (maybe 18 months old?) prouldy holding up a bottle of Peppermint essential oil from Young Living.
2. I don’t know what the oil is in this photo and it doesn’t matter. There is always some type of oil residue on a bottle and has no business being inside the mouth or hands of a baby. This baby is allowed to sleep with her oils.
Photo Description: This was a video of a beautiful baby with a bottle (closed) of essential oils that she is putting into her mouth. The entire cap goes inside of her mouth and she sucks on it like a teether.
3. These are oils that someone thinks are a good idea to always carry in a diaper bag! The two that stand out for me here are Thieves and DiGize.
Thieves contains Clove (Syzygium aromaticum) bud oil, Lemon (Citrus limon) peel oil, Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) bark oil, Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiata) leaf oil, and Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) leaf oil. Eucalyptus and Rosemary are both high in 1,8-cineole which can cause breathing issues in young children and are not recommended for kids under the age of 10 or 12. Clove and cinnamon are both “hot” oils that can cause severe irritation on a child’s sensitive skin.
DiGize contains Ginger, Anise, Fennel, Peppermint, Tarragon, Lemongrass, Patchouli, and Juniper essential oils. Anise, Lemongrass Tarragon, and Fennel are heavy duty oils with very low dermal limits and should not be used on young children. Anise and Fennel are not recommended for children under 5 years of age. Lemongrass is not recommended for children under the age of 2 years old (0.7% max dermal for adults). It also contains peppermint which, as I’ve already mentioned, has menthol and may cause breathing issues in small children.
Photo Description: This is a post of “Mamas Essential Oil Must-Haves for Baby” with a photo of YL Thieves, DiGize, Cedarwood, Gentle Baby, Peace & Calming, and Lavender.
4. Here’s that peppermint again! This time with an infant. Aside from potential breathing issues, the peppermint-soaked blankie can end up in or around her eyes causing that baby to quickly wake up with stinging eyes.
Photo Description: This is a picture of a soundly-sleeping baby with mom’s hand above baby’s head holding a bottle of YL Peppermint oil touching a baby blanket with a caption describing that the peppermint was applied to the blanket to help the congested baby.
5. We’ve already talked about the safety concerns of Thieves. Now imagine those hot oils on the mucous membranes of a baby’s nose. Eucalyptus radiata is around 70% 1,8-cineole and should not be used on kids under the age of 10-12 years old.
Photo Description: This is a picture of bottles of YL Thieves and Eucalyptus radiata and a nose frieda saying that the essential oils were for a child and that the nose frieda was a lifesaver.
6. Here is a mom using essential oils neat (undiluted) on her son’s back to “loosen up his back, shoulders, neck and muscles.” Essential oils should always be diluted to avoid developing sensitization. With the amber necklace and the belly, this looks to me to be an infant (6-9 months of age). Why does a child that young need to have their muscles loosened up? I won’t even go into the oils that are in this blend (which include cinnamon–an extremely hot oil); the fact that they are being used neat is enough of a no no here, especially on an infant.
Photo Description: This is a picture of a bottle of YL valor in the foreground and a young boy in the background with essential oils dripping down his back.
7. What child doesn’t chew on their pacifier clip? Anything that goes on a pacifier clip is going into a child’s mouth. And pictured here we have Thieves. Refer back to #3 above to see why Thieves is not safe for a child sucking a pacifier.
Photo Description: This picture is an ad for a business selling what looks to be suede cording braided into a pacifier clip. The cording is meant to be used to diffuse essential oils for babies as they suck on their pacifier and have it attached to their clothing with a clip. Essential oils pictured here are YL Thieves, Stress Away, and Lavender.
8. Did I mention yet that 1,8-cineole can cause breathing issues in children under the age of 10-12? Depending on chemotype, rosemary can be as high as nearly 60% 1,-8-cineole. This baby’s “cute laugh” just makes me want to cry.
Video Description: This is an adorable baby with an infectious laugh that is getting an “airplane ride” from an adult to place his head over the mist of a diffuser that is diffusing Rosemary and Wild Orange. He giggles as his head is place over the stream of misting essential oils.
9. Here is another case of a baby putting a bottle of oils into their mouth, essentially ingesting them. Lemon can be irritating to the delicate mucous membranes in the mouth. It is also phototoxic and a child with this undiluted on their skin could wind up with a severe burn wherever skin is exposed to sun after touching this bottle and getting it on their skin.
Photo Description: This was a photo of two bottles of lemon essential oil. The words “Chomp Chomp” were written on the photo and the caption said that when she accidently picked up someone else’s bottle that she could tell which one was hers from the teeth marks her baby had left on the bottle. The mom of this child has asked me to remove this picture, although she still has this published publicly on Instagram.
10. Here is a mom getting ready to put their child in the tub with RC. RC contains 3 types of eucalyptus (all high in 1,8-cineole) as well as peppermint. Scroll back up if you missed why this is not a safe practice.
Photo Description: This is a photo of a measuring cup with epsom salts in the background and bottles of YL Eucalyptus globulus and R.C.
11. Here is a young child allowed to handle an open bottle of essential oils. Notice how close that is to her face? What if she were to shake that bottle (as kids do) and have it go undiluted onto her skin or into her eyes? Plus that fact that even just touching a bottle often leads to at least some essential oils getting neat onto the skin.
Photo Description: This is a picture of a young girl (I’d guess not more than 2) holding an open bottle of essential oils with her arm halfway extended and level with her face.
12. Here’s another RC bath for baby! This time it’s being diffused instead of being put directly into the bath, however, she looks like she’s ready to grab it and pour some into the tub. Diffused or in the tub, this is not a safe blend for babies.
Photo Description: Pictured here was a young girl (maybe 1 year old) smiling in the tub as she stares at a bottle of R.C. within reach.
13. Here’s that stinking peppermint again! This time she’s got the bottle open and is putting it freely onto her baby doll’s feet. Peppermint (menthol). Open bottle. Baby. Just, NO!
Photo Description: This is a young girl (again, around a year old) that is holding a bottle of DT Peppermint oil upside down to apply to the feet of her baby doll. The caption implies that this child does this because it’s what she has seen modeled (my conclusion is that mom does this to child too). This picture is a collage of two pictures and in the second picture the baby appears to be lying down with the bottle no more than 2 or 3 inches from her face.
14. Copaiba is actually considered a kid-safe oil, however, no oil is safe in the mouth of a baby. Essential oils are not teethers! And putting essential oils neat inside a baby’s mouth for teething is not safe. Roman or German Chamomile hydrosols would be a safer option here (for teething, not as a teether).
Photo Description: This is a photo of a baby with the bottom part of a bottle of Copaiba in her mouth. The description indicates that this baby loves her Copaiba oil for teething.
15. Who can tell me which 5 out of 7 pictured below are not safe to use with young children and why?
Photo Description: This is a flat lay photo of YL Purification, Lavender, Breathe Again, DiGize, Copaiba, Peppermint, and Thieves as “Diaper Bag Favorites.”
16. Here’s a young child given free reign to play with “his oils.” Notice that one of those bottles is uncapped. When I blend anything, I have things up on a table and tell my son to stay away while mommy is blending. He has never once touched a bottle of my essential oils. Too many bad things can happen, and I for one don’t risk it.
Photo Description: In this picture, I count 27 bottles of essential oils sprawled out on the floor in front of a 1 or 2 year old boy that “loves his oils.”
17. Clove essential oil may be “#allnatural”, but it’s also NOT something to put into your baby’s mouth. Clove is a powerful analgesic and many moms have burned their baby’s mouth by applying it neat (or even diluted) to help with teething pain.
Photo Description: This picture shows an adult’s hand holding back the lower lip of a gorgeous baby to show off her two new bottom teeth. The caption says “Praise the Lord for clove essential oil” because it “totally numbs her gums and is #allnatural.”
18. Every night this child is applying essential oils neat (undiluted) onto their infant sibling. What is this oil for that this has to be done every night? Why is a small child in charge of this job? And why is either child getting oils applied neat ever, let alone on a daily basis?
Video Description: This video shows a young child (possibly 2 years old) holding a bottle of essential oils, opening the bottle, and then applying the oil to the bottom of his/her infant siblings feet. The caption indicates that this is a nightly routine.
19. Again, essential oil bottles are NOT teethers. Choking hazards? Yes. Definitely not teethers. And this bottle is Thieves which: who can tell me why Thieves should not be used on a young child or baby?
Video Description: This video shows and infant being given a bottle of YL Thieves to hold and he immediately puts it into his mouth to suck on. Caption says that both of their children have loved to teeth on oil bottles.
20. This child has a daily morning routine of applying orange for Vitamin C and Thieves for no reason (is this to prevent infections?). Let me be clear here. There is no Vitamin C in orange essential oil. In fact, there are no vitamins of any kind in any essential oil. Dr. Robert Pappas debunked that myth over a year ago and says that, “There are absolutely NO HORMONES (at least not human hormones) OR VITAMINS in essential oils.”
Video Description: This video shows a small boy (maybe 1 or younger) sitting on a diaper changing pad near the baby powder. He picks up a bottle of essential oil and says, “Oil.” Caption says that his morning oil routine is “2 drops of Orange on his belly for a vitamin C boost, 4 drops of Thieves on the bottoms of his feet, Owie for the little scrape on his face.”
21. When she talks about “Mel-A” here that she’s most likely referring to Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) oil. Tea Tree is actually considered a kid-safe oil, however, it’s really not a good idea to apply any oil so close to baby’s (or anyone’s) eye. Sometimes I wish moms would try this stuff on themselves first and then imagine it 100x worse on their child. How would it feel to get this in your eye?
Video Description: This video is of a mom applying Tea Tree and Frankincense essential oils diluted (to an unknown percent) into coconut oil and shea butter. The blend is being applied above the infant’s eye that “has a cold in it.”
Hopefully this list has given you some things to consider when you see people sharing photos and videos on social media as it relates to how they are using essential oils on their babies and young children. Keep learning. Always ask questions! With over 1,000 shares on Instagram with one of these hashtags, I hope that moms will be able to see through the misinformation and make better choices for themselves and their kids.
- Safety First with Essential Oils
- How to Choose an Essential Oil Brand
- Essential Oil Dilution Calculator
- What’s in your bottle? The Answer is not as simple as you’d think: The Adulteration, Degradation, Contamination and Misrepresentation of Essential Oils. Plus an Idea of How to Make Things Better