Best CBD Oil & Gummies For Kids: Is CBD Safe for Children with Anxiety & ADHD?
Learn how to use CBD safely with kids & understand what side effects to watch out for.
Many parents are wondering if CBD supplements are safe to give to their children — and what dose to use.
CBD (cannabidiol) is safe to use with your kids — but there are a few factors to be aware of first.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about using CBD with children.
We’ll cover the laws, safety, reasons why people are using it with their kids, and how to calculate the right dose depending on your child’s age and weight.
Let’s get started.
MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
Updated on January 05, 2022
Table of Contents
- Best CBD Oil & Gummies for Kids
- Step 1: Determine the Adult Dose
Best CBD Oil & Gummies for Kids
CBD-infused gummies are the best way to use CBD with children. They provide consistent, precise doses of non-psychoactive CBD disguised in a delicious gummy candy. Aim for gummies that contain either 5 or 10 mg each and cut them into smaller doses as needed.
Just like those gummy vitamins, make sure to only give them what they need and store them out of reach!
CBD oils are also a good option to use with kids, just make sure you use something on the lower end of the potency range (less than 500 mg) and always speak with your doctor first.
Here are the five best CBD gummies to use with kids in 2020:
- Royal CBD — Editor’s Choice
- Gold Bee CBD Gummies — Best Value
- CBD Infusionz Gummy Candies — Widest Selection
- Hemp Bombs CBD Gummies — CBD Isolate-Based
- Green Roads CBD Gummies — Low Doses
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.
Is It Legal to Give CBD to Children?
Recreational cannabis products containing more than 0.3 percent THC are not acceptable for children. In fact, it’s completely illegal to give products high in 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 of any kind.
When Should I Consider Giving CBD to My Child?
Not all children stand to benefit from CBD — but there are a few examples where CBD may offer dramatic improvements in your child’s quality of life.
The most common reasons parents are using CBD products with their children include:
- To alleviate or prevent nausea before a long car ride (this doesn’t work with all children)
- As an alternative pain management option for mild pain (more severe pain should be treated with the most appropriate options available)
- To alleviate anxiety in anxious or autistic children
- To support a full night of sleep in children experiencing insomnia (nightmares is a common cause)
- To alleviate symptoms of certain epileptic conditions (Dravet’s syndrome)
- To relax the lungs and chest muscles to help with coughing
- To manage inflammation and autoimmune disease
CBD is not a cure-all. While it offers many benefits and has helped a lot of people (kids included), you should never attempt to treat your child with CBD (or any health supplement) without first consulting a doctor. CBD is most effective when combined with other diet and lifestyle modifications.
If your child is having trouble sleeping, is feeling anxious, or experiencing autoimmune disease — it’s important to identify what’s causing the problem and address that directly. CBD may offer support for the symptoms and improve quality of life, but will not solve the problem directly.
The Health Benefits of CBD in Children
Learn about the specific health benefits of CBD for common health problems or symptoms experienced by children of all ages.
1. CBD Oil For Kids With 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. This is especially useful for managing anxiety after, particularly stressful events.
The compound works by increasing the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain tasked with reducing hyperactivity in the nervous system. It helps the mind to relax after a stressful event and return to a more normal baseline.
2. CBD Oil For Kids With Insomnia
Perhaps the most common reason why parents are giving their children CBD is to manage 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 computers, phones, or television screens. 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 most of the negative side effects of tranquilizers. It merely slows hyperactivity in the brain — giving your child the chance to wind down and fall asleep naturally.
3. CBD Oil For Kids With Epilepsy
One of the main reasons CBD has become so popular in recent years is its ability to treat epilepsy.
This is one of the few health conditions we can actually state “treat” rather than support. This claim is well-supported by clinical research.
The research on the impact of CBD on epilepsy in children began with a series of case studies  — 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.
Since then, there’s been a significant amount of research on the use of CBD for epilepsy in both adults and children alike with very promising results . There are even a handful of pharmaceutical companies developing new anti-epileptic medications based around natural or synthetic versions of CBD — such as Sativex® (1:1 THC to CBD) and Epidoliex® (synthetic CBD).
4. CBD Oil For Kids With Autism
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is becoming an increasingly common diagnosis in early childhood. At the moment, 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 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 a higher potential for addictive behavior. All of these symptoms may be reduced with the use of CBD.
Parents are using CBD oils for symptomatic relief in their autistic children. Some common applications include:
- To reduce social anxiety when visiting in large groups
- To reduce anxiety and occurrence of nightmares
- To alleviate anxiety when visiting the doctor
- For associated health conditions like epilepsy that often appear alongside ASD
5. CBD Oil For Kids With ADHD
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurological disorder affecting roughly 1 in 15 children in the developed world .
Current treatment options are mainly pharmaceuticals. Stimulant drugs, including Adderall and methylphenidate, help with symptoms but often bring their own set of negative side effects. 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.
6. CBD Oil For Kids With Asthma
Asthma can range from mild to severe — some asthma attacks can even be life-threatening.
The underlying cause of asthma is inflammation and swelling of the airways. Medications such as salbutamol (puffers) 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 inside your child’s puffer.
As a daily supplement, CBD is suggested to resist the specific type of 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.
7. CBD Oil For Kids With Nausea & Motion Sickness
Children are especially prone to experiencing nausea and 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 .
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 .
8. CBD Oil For Kids With Skin Conditions
CBD is also useful for addressing skin conditions. Both CBD oil and CBD skincare products are useful for this.
Internally, CBD is useful for supporting underlying causes for skin disorders — often stemming from the gut, liver, immune system, or combination of all three.
Topical CBD products are more useful for managing symptoms or addressing top-level skin problems not caused by other underlying health issues.
A few examples of skin conditions that may benefit from CBD include:
- Ingrown hairs
- Dry, flaky skin
- Bug bites
9. CBD For Kids With Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is the most common childhood motor disability according to the Center For Disease Control (CDC). Most patients with CP (75%) have the spastic form — which causes the muscles to become rigid and stiff.
CBD is not a cure for CP — there is no cure. However, it does have potent muscle-relaxing qualities that may help alleviate some of this tension and make life just a little bit easier and more comfortable for those affected.
Studies examining the effects of CBD and THC was shown to provide a noticeable improvement in muscle rigidity, spasticity, and motor function .
Numerous other studies support this conclusion — suggesting CBD serves as an effective ally to conventional treatment approaches. Adverse effects are minimal, primarily consisting of increased somnolescence (rare) and diarrhea.
Never use CBD with children diagnosed with CP before speaking with their pediatrician. There are some drugs used to treat CP that could interact negatively with CBD if it isn’t used properly.
Choosing CBD Products for Children
CBD Comes in many different forms. Most parents will use a simple CBD gummy or a CBD topical — but oils, syrups, and suppositories are also good options.
1. CBD Oils
CBD-infused 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 or choose an oil that comes with added flavor.
2. CBD Gummies
CBD 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. Most people cut their gummies into 5 mg doses for small children, and 10 mg for kids over the age of 10.
Make sure you store these gummies in a safe place where your child can’t reach them between supervised doses.
3. CBD Syrups
CBD syrups aren’t very common but work the same way as CBD oil. The sweet flavor makes it easy to disguise with other foods (such as waffles or pancakes). The only downside is the high sugar content.
Check out our selection of the top CBD Honey Sticks.
4. CBD Topicals
CBD 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. CBD Suppositories
Suppositories are specifically designed 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.
Products to Avoid With Children
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. CBD Capsules
CBD capsules are a great way to use CBD in general but are not recommended for children. This is especially true for 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. CBD Vape Pens and E-Liquids
Children should not be vaping — end of story. CBD vape pens are an adult-only product.
4. CBD Concentrates
CBD 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 CBD Dosage for Children
In general, the dose of CBD for a child is about 2.5 to 10 mg depending on their age, size, and symptom severity.
Most experts agree CBD is a safe supplement. Going over the recommended dose (within reason) isn’t likely to cause any issues.
Here’s a quick dosage guide to get you in the right ballpark, but if you want to really dial in the dose for your child, follow the instructions listed below.
Should You Give Your Kid CBD?
More Americans are using the hemp (or marijuana) extract on their kids, but experts aren’t sold on its efficacy.
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Priscilla Batista is stuck at home in Charlotte, N.C., with a highly emotional 4-year-old.“Every toddler obviously is emotional, but she’s a pretty constant, volatile child,” she said. “It doesn’t allow her to focus. She’s just struggling.” Batista doesn’t yet have an official diagnosis for her daughter, but, suspecting an attention deficit disorder, she has turned to CBD (cannabidiol) for help.
CBD is one of the more well-known components of cannabis, along with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Both chemicals affect the brain, but while THC makes users feel high, CBD doesn’t, though it does make some users feel more relaxed. CBD products have become hugely popular around the world, from oils that can be eaten or rubbed on skin, to soaps, gummy candies and even pet treats.
A 2019 Gallup poll found 14 percent of more than 2,500 Americans surveyed use CBD products, mostly for pain, anxiety and sleep problems. Statistics for kids are much harder to come by, but there are Facebook groups with thousands of followers where parents discuss giving CBD to their kids for conditions including the autism spectrum and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In April, a cannabis-focused magazine published a survey of more than 500 parents and found that 40 percent had given CBD products to their children for behaviors related to the autism spectrum.
Very little controlled research has been done with CBD and kids. There is only one approved drug based on CBD for any age group, and that’s for rare kinds of epilepsy in children. There are promising hints — but little proof thus far — that the compound might work on some other conditions in children too, including other kinds of seizures, autism and anxiety.
“When you’re desperate, you want options,” said John Mitchell, clinician at Duke ADHD Clinic in Durham, N.C. “I’m a parent myself. I get it.” But, he cautioned, for now the enthusiasm is running ahead of the science. “I’m very hesitant to say anything promising about it. It’s an open question.”
The medical community considers pure CBD relatively safe: The World Health Organization, for example, has said there’s no evidence of anyone abusing CBD recreationally, or of any public health problems. But there are still some risks, especially for kids.
Last year, the Food and Drug Administration wrote that CBD has the potential to cause liver injury (in users of any age), and suggested it might affect the developing brains of children. No one knows the long-term effects of giving CBD to kids, said Arno Hazekamp, Ph.D., a pharmaceutical researcher and cannabis consultant in the Netherlands. “Those kids are still kids,” he said. Researchers will have to wait until they are older to assess long-term effects. Also, since most CBD products aren’t regulated, he added, they can be tainted with dangerous additives.
Hints of help
The only drug containing CBD that has been approved for adults or children is Epidiolex, which is currently the only known treatment for two rare and devastating forms of childhood epilepsy: Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Epidiolex, approved in 2018, was developed after the high-profile case of Charlotte Figi, whose desperate mother used CBD to dramatically control her debilitating seizures.
The way that CBD acts on the brain makes it a good candidate for controlling seizures caused by other conditions too. The Epilepsy Foundation said that early evidence from animal studies, anecdotal reports and small clinical trials suggest that CBD could potentially help with seizures. Dozens of trials are underway to test if, why and how CBD might work for kids and adults suffering from seizures of various kinds.
There are also hints CBD might work for some autistic kids. Dr. Gal Meiri, M.D., clinical director of the National Autism Research Center of Israel at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, has studied CBD oils and autism. In a study that Meiri co-authored in 2019, 155 autistic kids aged 18 years and younger tried CBD oil for at least six months. More than 80 percent of the parents reported significant or moderate improvement in their kids. “Some of the parents reported benefits not just with seizures but also behaviors, like self-harm,” he noted.
Most such studies are based on parents’ perceptions, rather than measured changes in comparison to placebo groups. The placebo effect can be strong, since parents typically want to see improvements. A placebo-controlled trial of CBD for autistic children has been completed at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Israel, but the results aren’t yet published. Another is underway at the University of California, San Diego.
“I’m trying to be very cautious about it,” said Meiri with regards to CBD and autism. “We still don’t have enough research about safety and efficacy.”
Similarly, many parents are trying CBD products for children with A.D.H.D., for which there are no reported controlled trials with kids. One small trial on 30 adults with a mouth spray containing both CBD and THC had inconclusive results.
With no scientific proof that CBD works and is safe for children, Mitchell said stimulant-based medications like Adderall are a better option than CBD. “We know much more about one than the other, so the choice is simple,” he said. But he understands why a parent might consider CBD as an alternative, he said, given that it is typically seen as a gentle drug with few side effects.
That matches Batista’s experience. “My daughter has a beautiful personality; she’s sweet, she’s spunky. I don’t want to medicate her with something that’s going to turn her into a zombie,” she said, referring to parent complaints that some stimulant-based drugs can make their kids seem spacey.
“I don’t want her to fall behind,” she said. Batista has seen other kids with A.D.H.D. struggle academically. “It can really swallow a kid whole; then you have a failure to launch.”
Mitchell added there are signs CBD might help with anxiety: a symptom that sometimes accompanies autism and A.D.H.D. In a 2018 study of CBD for kids with autism, for example, anxiety improved in more than a third of the 60 patients.
Surprisingly, there’s not much evidence that CBD helps with sleep — despite its reputation for causing drowsiness in recreational users. “Something can make you sleepy and have no effect on your sleep quality,” said Hazekamp.
No silver bullets
Even if CBD is someday approved for use against other kinds of seizures, autism or A.D.H.D., it is unlikely to work for everyone.
Kelly Cervantes, a mother and health activist in Chicago, gave CBD to her daughter Adelaide, who suffered from an unidentified neurodegenerative condition with severe infantile spasms. “We were desperate, and we wanted to try anything we could,” said Cervantes. That was when her daughter was about a year and a half old, and before Epidiolex, so she says she got the product online rather than though her doctor. Sadly, Adelaide’s symptoms got worse. “It entirely depends on the child. There is no one pill, one oil, one treatment that is going to cure everyone,” she said.
In addition, Adelaide’s doctors began to see signs of liver failure. Cervantes took her off the CBD. She said CBD, “does not come without side effects, which I think is a major misconception about it.” In trials of Epidiolex, a moderate dose caused side effects in at least 10 percent of the children, including elevated liver enzymes, decreased appetite, diarrhea, fatigue, sleep problems and malaise.
Furthermore, it’s impossible to know what’s in a CBD product without independent testing. One of Hazekamp’s studies in the Netherlands analyzed 46 cannabis oils made by patients or sold online. Only 21 products even advertised the ingredient concentrations and many of those were wildly wrong. Seven didn’t contain any cannabinoids at all. One of them had more than 50 percent more THC in it than the product claimed.
“There can be pesticides, heavy metals and microbes in the plants,” said Hazekamp. It isn’t clear if those are making it into CBD oils, he said.
It’s impossible to overdose on pure CBD, but synthetic knock-offs can be poisonous. In 2019, the American Association of Poison Control Centers put out an alert noting “growing concern” about CBD products, with national calls about CBD rocketing from just over 100 in 2017 to more than 1,500 last year.
“The labels aren’t always right,” said Hazekamp. “If you try it, make sure it is what you think it is.”
Talk to your doctor
When Cervantes tried CBD, she bought it online from what she believed to be a reputable company, but she can’t be sure what was in it. It would help parents of suffering children, she said, if CBD products were more regulated and parents felt they could talk to their doctors about it, rather than worrying about its association with marijuana.
“I had a patient start taking CBD and I only found out a month in,” said Mitchell. “Parents may assume that a doctor will respond in a negative way.” It’s a doctor’s responsibility, he said, to be open to discussing options. “If you shut a patient down, it doesn’t mean you won the argument, it means they’re not going to talk about it.”
Batista said her daughter’s doctors told her to be careful with CBD and didn’t recommend it.
Still, she’s been using it for several months, getting it from a company that advertises independent testing to confirm their product’s contents, and starting with a low dose. She said she can’t tell if it’s doing anything, but holds out hope that a gentle drug with few side effects will be effective for her little girl. “I want to think that it’s helping.”