Evidence based

Is CBD safe to use with Children?

All-in-one Childrens CBD Dosage Guide

Article By
Justin Cooke , posted 2 months ago

  • Table of Contents

Everyone and their dog is talking about CBD these days.

The controversial health supplement has substantial health benefits and is useful for treating a range of conditions, from insomnia and anxiety to muscle pain and inflammation.

Many parents are wondering if the supplement is safe to give to their children — and whether it is legal.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about giving CBD to children.

We’ll cover the laws, the safety aspects, some of the most popular reasons people are using it, and how to calculate the right dose depending on the child’s age and weight.

Let’s get started.

Will CBD Make My Child High?

This is the first question most parents ask before deciding to give CBD to their children.

The answer to this question is a resounding no — as long as the THC content of the chosen product is below 0.3%.

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the primary psychoactive constituent of the cannabis plant. This is the compound responsible for the “high” associated with marijuana.

CBD is different — it doesn’t have any psychoactive effects.

These two cannabinoids are similar in many ways, but there’s a fundamental difference in how they interact with the body. THC activates a series of receptors in the brain (CB1 receptors) that trigger a release of a cascade of serotonin in the brain — producing the high.

CBD doesn’t activate these receptors. Instead, it works by supporting the cannabinoids already present in the body — it doesn’t produce any psychoactivity.

Recreational cannabis products containing THC are not acceptable for children. In fact, it’s completely illegal to give products containing THC to children.

However, as we’ve discussed, CBD doesn’t have any intoxicating effects. It’s treated as a nutritional supplement in the United States. Most countries around the world consider CBD to the same degree.

Modern extraction techniques allow manufacturers to remove the THC from their final products — allowing them to be given safely and legally to children.

With that said, it’s wise to consult with your child’s doctor before giving them any supplements — including CBD.

When Should I Consider Giving CBD to My Child?

There are plenty of reasons why someone may want to give their child CBD.

With proper dosing, children can stand to benefit from CBD regarding the relief of pain, inflammation, anxiety, insomnia, or excessive stress.

CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning that it won’t produce any mind-altering side-effects. It works just like any other nutritional supplement.

Top Eight Reasons Why Parents Are Choosing to Give Their Children CBD

1. Anxiety

Children often experience anxiety — whether it’s from nutritional deficiencies, pressures at home or school, or difficulties making friends. It’s normal, and most children manage to get through a rough period without the need for powerful pharmaceutical medications.

However, CBD can be used to address anxiety in the short term.

The compound works by increasing the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain tasked with lowering hyperactivity in the nervous system. It helps the mind to relax after a stressful event and return to a normal baseline.

Learn more about using CBD for anxiety.

2. Insomnia

Perhaps the most common reason why parents are giving their children CBD is to treat insomnia.

Overstimulation can cause many children to experience difficulties shutting off at the end of the day. Their brains remain wired for hours in bed after spending so much time in front of screens both at home and at school. Children that have difficulty sleeping often become irritable (understandably), which can make it even harder to fall asleep.

CBD is an excellent supplement for supporting sleep. It’s not directly sedating, so you don’t have to worry about tranquilizing your child. It merely slows hyperactivity in the brain — giving your child the chance to wind down and fall asleep naturally.

Learn more about using CBD for insomnia.

3. Epilepsy

One of the main reasons CBD has become so popular in recent years is its ability to treat epilepsy. Most of this research was completed using children as case studies [5] — starting with a girl named Charlotte Figi.

Charlotte suffers from a rare form of epilepsy known as Dravet’s syndrome. For years, she experienced dozens of debilitating seizures every day. Despite trying everything they could get their hands on, Charlotte’s parents were unable to give their daughter relief — until they decided to try cannabis.

Almost immediately after giving their daughter a high-CBD cannabis extract, she virtually stopped having seizures. She went from having a few hundred per week to just a handful each week. Some days, she didn’t even have one.

Charlotte’s story blew up in the media and has been a major contributor to the popularity of CBD today.

There’s been a significant amount of research done on the use of CBD for epilepsy in both adults and children alike [4].

Learn more about using CBD for epilepsy.

4. Autism

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is becoming an increasingly common diagnosis in early childhood. Currently, there’s almost nothing we can do to treat it.

Medications exist, but they’re unreliable and often come with their own set of negative side-effects.

In recent years, CBD has caught the attention of medical researchers around the globe as a potential treatment for autism.

There is no cure for the disorder. However, there is plenty of room for improvement in managing symptoms — especially side-effects such as anxiety, seizures, mood swings, and higher potential for addictive behavior. All of these symptoms are reduced with the use of CBD.

Learn more about using CBD for autism spectrum disorder.

5. ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurological disorder affecting roughly 1 in 15 children in the developed world [1].

Current treatment options are mainly pharmaceutical. Stimulant drugs, including Adderall and methylphenidate, help with symptoms but often bring their own set of negative side-effects. Therefore, many parents are seeking natural alternative options instead.

CBD offers a compelling new treatment for ADHD symptoms. One of the key symptoms of ADHD is hyperactivity — something CBD is particularly useful for relieving.

The relaxing nature of CBD helps hyperactive children remain calm and relieves common side-effects such as anxiety and insomnia. It’s also useful for addressing headaches and autoimmune conditions that may be associated with the condition.

Learn more about using CBD for ADD and ADHD.

6. Asthma

Asthma comes in many different forms, from mild to severe. Also, it can be debilitating.

The underlying cause of asthma is inflammation and swelling of the airways. Medications such as salbutamol are most commonly used for treating childhood asthma — however, these medications can form tolerance, meaning that the more your child uses it, the less effective it becomes over time. Eventually, you will need to increase the dose or find another medication to relieve symptoms.

CBD is a potent anti-inflammatory compound that acts on several inflammatory pathways leading to asthmatic reactions (such as TNF-a, IL-6, IL-4, and IL-13). It works best as a preventative for asthma attacks, rather than as a direct treatment. For that, you’re best to stick to the beta-adrenergic agonists included in your child’s puffer.

As a daily supplement, CBD is suggested to resist the immune activation involved with asthma. It also relaxes the muscles lining the airway and lowers stress levels — both of which heavily contribute to an asthmatic reaction.

Learn more about using CBD for asthma.

7. Motion Sickness

Children are especially prone to experiencing motion sickness. There are many reasons for this, but the most common theory is that it’s a direct result of their smaller ear canals. This is also why children are more likely to experience inner or middle ear infections than adults.

Inside our ears is a unique set of nerves designed to relay messages to the brain regarding our association to the ground. This helps us determine up from down and maintain our balance.

If this system becomes dysfunctional — which can happen while sitting in a car for too long or while on unstable surfaces such as a boat — the brain panics and makes us feel nauseous. The brain is essentially tricked into thinking we must have eaten something poisonous, so it tries to get it out of the body by making us vomit.

The region of the brain responsible for producing these effects is aptly named the nausea center in the brain. This system is heavily regulated by the endocannabinoid system [2].

CBD, in turn, interacts closely with the endocannabinoid system by preventing the breakdown of our natural endocannabinoids. This effect is thought to be the reason why CBD is so useful for alleviating nausea.

It’s even been shown to provide relief to cancer patients experiencing extreme bouts of nausea following a chemotherapy session [3].

Learn more about using CBD for motion sickness.

8. Skin Conditions

CBD is also useful for addressing skin conditions — both internally in the form of CBD oils or supplements, as well as topically as a salve or cream.

Dandruff, psoriasis, eczema, and small cuts can all benefit from the anti-inflammatory and vulnerary (which means it speeds up the healing process) effects of CBD products.

When it comes to topical CBD products, not all products are created equal. There’s a lot of poorly formulated products that contain irritating chemicals or low CBD content or lack additional beneficial ingredients.

The best products in this category will have a specific use and will come formulated with other beneficial herbs and supplements. These can vary depending on the specific skin condition you’re trying to address.

Learn more about using CBD for skin conditions.

Guide to Giving CBD to Children

Now that we’ve discussed the circumstances under which you might begin thinking about giving CBD to children, it’s time to work out the details.

CBD is a relatively complicated compound, and there are many different products on the market — some much better than others.

So, let’s discuss the different types of CBD products available and talk about when you might want to give them to children — and when you should avoid doing so.

What Forms of CBD Should I Use?

1. Oils

Oils are the most common form of CBD. They’re easy to use, and specific doses can be calculated easily by counting the drops or using a small measuring cup.

Mix CBD oils with your child’s favorite juice or smoothie to disguise the flavor.

Find the best CBD oils

2. Gummies

Gummies are also a great way to give CBD to children. They taste just like candy and can be divided into smaller doses by simply cutting them into pieces.

Make sure you store these gummies in a safe place where your child can’t reach them between supervised doses.

Find the best CBD gummies on the market

3. Syrups

Syrups are not very common but work the same way as a CBD oil. The sweet flavor makes them easy to disguise with other foods (such as waffles or pancakes). The only downside is the high sugar content.

Find the best CBD edibles

4. Topicals

Topicals are the best option for anything skin-related. These products don’t need to have the dose measured and are, therefore, the safest means of using CBD. However, it’s still best to try any new skin product on a small area of the body to make sure there are no allergic reactions before using it on larger areas of the body.

5. Suppositories

Suppositories are specifically for inflammation in the digestive tract. There are only a few cases where these are necessary, such as following a parasitic infection (for example, worms), to speed recovery and lower inflammation.

What Forms of CBD Should I Avoid?

Not all forms of CBD are appropriate for children.

Here are a few examples of CBD products to avoid giving children.

1. Tinctures (Alcohol-Based)

Nothing alcohol-related should be given to children. Most tinctures are alcohol-based and should, therefore, be avoided. There are, however, CBD companies referring to their CBD oils as tinctures. Therefore, always double-check the ingredients on products sold as tinctures to confirm the content.

2. Capsules

Capsules are a great way to use CBD but aren’t generally recommended for children, especially those under the age of 8.

This is because younger children have smaller airways compared with adults. Therefore, it’s much easier for a capsule to get caught in a child’s throat — which can be a very uncomfortable experience, not to mention potentially dangerous.

3. Vape Pens and E-Liquids

Children should not be vaping — end of story. Vape pens are an adult-only product.

4. Concentrates

Concentrates should be avoided by all but the most experienced CBD users. That even applies to adults.

The ultra-high potency makes it too easy to take too much. For small children who only require very small doses and are more sensitive to compounds (including CBD), this is a recipe for disaster.

Therefore, avoid concentrates and opt for something with a lower potency.

How to Calculate Children’s CBD Doses

Children are much smaller than adults and tend to have significantly less body fat — which plays a big role in the effects of a supplement or medication.

In general, children are also often more sensitive to supplements, so it’s important to be well informed whenever you start giving any to them.

If you were to give a child CBD by simply following the instructions on the packaging of the product, you might be giving them far too much. Children’s doses can vary a lot depending on their age and body weight.

Here, we’ll go over five steps to determining the right dose to give a child based on the adult doses listed on the packaging.

We’ll even provide a few simple formulas that you can use to calculate a child’s dose for any supplement.

Step 1: Determine the Adult Dose

Children’s doses are most easily calculated from adult’s doses, so the first step is to get a baseline.

Even in adults, the appropriate dose can vary significantly. The biggest determining factor is the weight and the desired strength.

Some conditions require large doses of CBD to be effective (such as insomnia, severe anxiety, or epilepsy).

Other conditions need lower doses — it will depend on the severity of symptoms.

General Doses Based on Desired Strength (Adults)

  1. Low strength: 15 mg
  2. Medium strength: 45 mg

Note: Much higher strengths may be necessary, especially when treating specific medical conditions such as Dravet’s syndrome —  however, this should first be discussed with a doctor experienced in giving CBD to children.

CBD is very safe as a supplement within the above dose ranges but can produce unwanted side-effects such as oversedation and dizziness in high doses.

Step 2: Use One of These Three Formulas to Calculate the Equivalent Dose for Children

Once you have the adult dose, just do a simple calculation to get your child’s dose.

There are formulas designed to calculate the dose either by age or weight. Some will only work up to a certain age, while others are limited in the weight.

Here are the best formulas for calculating children’s doses:

A) Ausberger’s Rule — From Birth Onward

Here’s the formula:

[1.5 x weight in kg] + 10 = percentage of adult dose

Example:

Let’s say the adult dose you’re aiming for is on the low end — 15 mg per day. And we’ll use a 30 kg (66 lbs) child as the example. The calculation would look like this: 1.5 x [30 kg] + 10 = 55%

55% of 15 mg is equal to 8.25 mg per day.

Therefore, you would give your child about 8 mg of CBD as a dose.

B) Salisbury’s Rule #1 — For Children Under 30 kg

Here’s the formula:

[weight in kg x 2] = percentage of adult dose to give

Example:

Using an adult dose of 30 mg per day as a guide and a child who is 20 kg (44 lbs), we get the following calculation: (20 kg x 2) = 40%.

40% of 30 mg gives us a dose of 12 mg.

C) Salisbury’s Rule #2 — For Children Over 30 kg

Here’s the formula:

[weight + 30] = percentage of adult dose

Example:

Using an adult dose of 30 mg per day as a guide and a child who is 40 kg (88 lbs), we get the following calculation: (40 + 30) = 70%.

70% of 30 mg gives us a dose of 21 mg.

Quick Reference Chart for Children’s Doses

Weight (lbs)Low StrengthMedium Strength

30 lbs

2.6 mg

7.8 mg

40 lbs

3.6 mg

10.8 mg

50 lbs

4.6 mg

13.8 mg

75 lbs

6.4 mg

19.0 mg

100 lbs

7.5 mg

22.5 mg

(Calculated using Salisbury’s Rule)

Step 3: Determine the Equivalent Dose for the Product You’re Using

Now you know how much CBD to use, all you need to do is compare this to the product you’ve bought or are going to buy.

If you’re using gummies, this step is easy. All you need to do is look at the amount of CBD listed for each gummy. This can range from 5 mg to 50 mg.

So, if your goal is to give 8 mg doses, you could either buy a 10 mg gummy and cut about 20% off the end or purchase 5 mg gummies and give one and a half with each dose.

For CBD oils and syrups, this step can be tricky because they come in so many different potencies. However, it’s easy to do once you understand how.

Let me break it down.

To dose CBD oils properly, you need to know how much CBD is in every mL of oil. A 300 mg per bottle oil is going to have significantly less CBD per mL than a 1000 mg bottle of the same size.

Here’s a simple chart to show you how these potencies can change:

Total CBD30 mL Bottle (1 oz)60 mL Bottle (2 oz)
100 mg3.33 mg/mL1.6 mg/mL
300 mg10 mg/mL5 mg/mL
600 mg20 mg/mL10 mg/mL
1000 mg33.3 mg/mL16.6 mg/mL
2000 mg66.6 mg/mL33.3 mg/mL
4000 mgN/A66.6 mg/mL

Once you know the potency of the oil you’re using, you can count the mL to get the exact dose. There are about 20 drops in one mL. You can also use a small measuring cup for more precision.

Suppositories are different — if giving them to children, find a lower-potency option (30 mg or less per suppository).

What All This Means

When choosing a CBD oil for children, aim for a low potency (300 mg or 600 mg bottles). This allows you to measure small doses more easily.

If using gummies, find low-potency options that can be combined to achieve as close to the desired dose as possible — such as cutting gummies in half.

Tips for Giving CBD to Children

1. Use Gummies

Gummies are one of the easiest ways to give small children CBD. They taste great and make it easy to provide accurate doses by cutting them in half.

2. Start Low and Go Slow

Always start with a low dose to see how your child reacts. Once you know they don’t react negatively to CBD, you can gradually increase to the desired dose.

3. Use Modified Doses for Children

Make sure you calculate the dose using one of the formulas above instead of using the adult dosage.

4. Use Strong Topicals

If using topicals, make sure you find a product with at least 10 mg CBD for every mL — anything less isn’t going to be very reliable.

5. Record Changes

Take some notes before giving CBD to your child. Include the answers to the following questions:

  • What are their symptoms?
  • How severe are the symptoms?
  • When are the symptoms at their worst? When are they at their best?

After about a week of using CBD, take these same notes again and compare them. If there are no noticeable changes, continue for at least another week and repeat. If nothing has changed after about a month, CBD may not be the best supplement for your child’s needs.

6. Double-Check the THC Content

Always double-check that the product is THC-free or contains less than 0.3% THC.

Most products currently on the market don’t contain THC. However, this could change as laws around cannabis extracts continue to develop.

Key Takeaways: CBD Supplements for Children

Children, like adults, can benefit from CBD supplementation. However, the necessary dose will be much smaller and needs to be more accurately dispensed — but the effects are the same.

Conditions such as ADHD, asthma, autism, motion sickness, insomnia, and anxiety are especially problematic for small children.

These are all conditions that may benefit from CBD.

Whenever giving children CBD, it’s important to give them a small dose. Use the formulas above to calculate individual doses. Remember, though, that children grow fast, so you’ll need to recalculate their doses every few months.

We recommend opting for a low-potency CBD oil (300 mg or 600 mg per oz) or using gummies.


References

  1. Zulauf, C. A., Sprich, S. E., Safren, S. A., & Wilens, T. E. (2014). The complicated relationship between attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and substance use disorders. Current psychiatry reports, 16(3), 436.
  2. Choukèr, A., Kaufmann, I., Kreth, S., Hauer, D., Feuerecker, M., Thieme, D., … & Schelling, G. (2010). Motion sickness, stress and the endocannabinoid system. PloS one, 5(5), e10752.
  3. Duran, M., Pérez, E., Abanades, S., Vidal, X., Saura, C., Majem, M., … & Rams, N. (2010). Preliminary efficacy and safety of an oromucosal standardized cannabis extract in chemotherapy‐induced nausea and vomiting. British journal of clinical pharmacology, 70(5), 656-663.
  4. Crippa, J. A., Crippa, A., Hallak, J. E., Martín-Santos, R., & Zuardi, A. W. (2016). Δ9-THC intoxication by cannabidiol-enriched cannabis extract in two children with refractory epilepsy: full remission after switching to purified cannabidiol. Frontiers in pharmacology7, 359.Chicago
  5. Porter, B. E., & Jacobson, C. (2013). Report of a parent survey of cannabidiol-enriched cannabis use in pediatric treatment-resistant epilepsy. Epilepsy & Behavior, 29(3), 574-577.

Further Reading

Further Reading