How to use essential oils for coughs and colds in children

There are lots of coughs and colds around at the moment, so I have put together this article about how to use essential oils to sooth the symptoms of coughs and colds in children.

I know that when my children were small I wanted to use natural, drug free solutions, and before I learned about aromatherapy I would not have known where to start.  So many questions – which essential oils? How many drops? Mix what with what? How to use them?  How long to keep them? Where to keep them?   So confusing!

This article is for you if you have children, or grand-children, and would like to know exactly how to use essential oils for coughs and colds – the what, when, how and where!

I want to make it easy for you, so here are easy step by step instructions using just 3 essential oils.

Step 1:  Buy the essential oils. 

First of all, make sure that the essential oils you purchase are of good quality, organic if possible, and make sure that they are pure essential oils, not fragrant oils.  Buy from a reputable supplier – your local health food store, also Neal’s Yard, Essential Oils Direct, Amphora Aromatics are a few good brands I can recommend and you can buy online.  If you live in the UK I can also supply you with essential oils, just contact me.    The 3 we are going to be using are Eucalyptus, Lavender and Tea Tree.  While shopping, buy a small glass screw top bottle to mix.

Step 2:  Blend.

Mix together 10 drops of eucalyptus, 10 drops of tea tree and 10 drops of lavender.  Keep this mixture in a small glass screw top bottle.

Step 2:  Choose your method


There are two main types of diffuser.  The common factor is that they have a water reservoir above and a method of warming the water below.  The classic type has a space for a nightlight candle underneath.  Modern versions are electric, some with colour change effect.  I have both types and they are equally as good.  The electric version can be a bit noisy.  If you are using them around a child or baby, you are going to have to place them somewhere out of reach, especially if you are using it in their bedroom.

The essential oils are added to the water and as the heat source warms the water the aroma is spread throughout the room.  The essential oils are then breathed in through the nose.    Note – always use tepid or cold water, not too hot, otherwise the essential oils will evaporate too quickly and you will lose the effect.


Adding drops of essential oil to a warm bath is very relaxing and when you or your child are feeling under the weather it really helps, as you are inhaling the essential oils along with the steam which sooths the nasal passages, as well as getting the effect of the oils on the skin.  Ensure the bath is warm, not hot, because if it is too hot the essential oils will evaporate too quickly.  If you are running the bath for a child it wouldn’t be too hot anyway.  It is very important to ensure you swish the essential oils around with your hand before getting in because otherwise the essential oils will sit on the surface of the water and will be concentrated on the skin of the body as they get in.  20 minutes in the bath, wrapped up in a warm towel, in their PJ’s and into a cosy bed.


Mixing essential oils with a carrier oil such as Sweet Almond Oil or Grapeseed Oil and then applying by massage is one of the best ways to use essential oils because you have the effect of the essential oils together with the potent effect of human touch giving a very positive effect on the body and mind.  If a child had a cough or cold, then you can simply massage the oils on to their back, chest and maybe also their feet.  Very comforting and soothing, and they get the effect of the oils as they breathe in.  Great to do just before bed.

Step 3: Safety Precautions

Never use neat essential oils directly on the skin. There are a couple of exceptions to this rule.  Lavender can be applied undiluted to burns, cuts and insect bites.

Never use essential oils internally.  I know that a popular brand from the USA advocates using essentially oils internally but I would not recommend this for adults and never ever for babies or children. The IFA (International Federation of Aromatherapists) does not recommend this method of use. 

Babies and children require much smaller amount of the oils than adults to obtain effective results. Essential oils are potent and using more definitely does not mean better results. Keep to the guidance I have given.

Step 4:  Work out how many drops depending on age of child.

Age Diffuser Bathing Massage chest/back
6 m to 12 m 2 drops 1 drop 3 drops to 15 ml carrier oil
1 to 5 years 3 drops 2 drops 3 drops to 15 ml carrier oil
6 to 12 years 3/4 drops 3 drops 4 drops to 15 ml carrier oil
12+ 5 drops 4 drops 5 drops to 15 ml carrier oil

For children over 12 you can also use steam inhalation if your child is congested by using 5 drops of the mix in a bowl of hot (not boiling) water, with a towel placed over head and bowl.  Always supervise.

If you have questions, would like to know more, just drop me a message, I will be pleased to help.

Would you like my FREE e-book?  It is all about Aromatherapy for common ailments in babies and children.  If you would like a copy please click here:

Thanks for reading!





The information provided in this article is for personal information and interest only. It is not intended to offer professional medical advice or treatment for any condition. Always consult your GP or medical practitioner if you have any health concerns whatsoever. 
If you have any health problems or suffer from a chronic condition or are taking any medication you should always seek advice from your GP or medical practitioner prior to using aromatherapy.
Please note that I do not accept any liability for misuse of essential oils or other products or for any reliance on the information provided by me in this article or on my website.