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.
CBD: What Parents Need to Know
Parents are giving it to kids to combat anxiety and other problems. But there are risks, and little research to support it.
What You’ll Learn
- Is CBD safe for kids?
- What are the risks of giving kids CBD?
- Can CBD help kids who have mental health disorders?
- Quick Read
- Full Article
- What do we know about CBD?
- Concerns about CBD
- Is CBD safe?
- CBD oil for anxiety
- CBD and autism
- Research boom
These days, you can find CBD everywhere. Some people believe that it can treat everything from chronic pain and cancer to anxiety and ADHD. But is it safe for kids?
CBD is still pretty new, so there’s very little research about its safety or how well it works, especially for children. So far, there’s only one marijuana-derived medication that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. It’s called Epidiolex, and it’s used to treat a rare form of epilepsy in patients who are at least two years old.
Because CBD is so new, there also aren’t a lot of rules about what can and cannot be included in CBD products. So, there’s a huge variety in the quality of products. You may even find different amounts of CBD in different packages of the same product.
Since there isn’t a lot of research about CBD, doctors say there are some risks with using CBD for kids. For example, CBD products may contain things other than CBD, and those things could be harmful. Plus, we don’t yet know if CBD works well with other medications or how much you should give your child.
Although a few studies have found that CBD oil might work for anxiety, they only looked at healthy people who were put in situations that made them anxious. There are no studies yet on people with chronic anxiety. Researchers are also exploring CBD for kids with autism spectrum disorder. The results are good so far, but more research needs to be done before we can know if it’s safe and effective.
CBD is everywhere. From corner stores and bars to medical marijuana dispensaries, it’s being offered for its reputed ability to relieve pain and make people feel better.
Though CBD — full name cannabidiol — is extracted from marijuana or hemp, it doesn’t contain THC, the chemical in marijuana that has psychoactive effects, so it doesn’t make you feel high.
Available in the form of vaping, oils, lotions, cocktails, coffee, gummies — you name it — CBD has been touted as a treatment for complaints as far-reaching as chronic pain, cancer, migraines, anxiety and ADHD. You know it’s gone mainstream when even Consumer Reports has issued guides on how to shop for CBD and tips for safe CBD use.
Not only are adults experimenting with CBD for whatever is bothering them, increasingly parents are turning to CBD to help their kids focus, sleep, calm down and more.
But popular use of CBD is blowing up with very little research into its safety or its efficacy, especially in children. The first and only marijuana-derived drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration, Epidiolex, is used to treat a rare, severe form of epilepsy in patients two years of age and older. And since cannabis is in the early stages of legalization and regulation, there is a huge variety in the quality and dosage of products — risks associated with using products that have not been vetted by the FDA.
What do we know about CBD?
For millennia, hemp plants have been used for medicinal purposes around the world. In 1851 marijuana was classified by the United States Pharmocopeia as a viable medical compound used to treat conditions like epilepsy, migraines and pain. But since marijuana and cannabis-related products were made illegal in the US in 1970, there has been a dearth of research about either marijuana or CBD. Its classification as a Schedule 1 drug made it nearly impossible to get federal funding to study cannabis.
“The biggest problem is there’s a lot that we still need to know, especially in kids,” says Paul Mitrani, MD, a clinical psychiatrist at the Child Mind Institute. “In regards to treating mental health disorders in children and adolescents, there’s a lack of evidence to support its use.”
Dr. Mitrani, who is a pediatrician and child and adolescent psychiatrist, says it’s an area worthy of investigation but recommends that parents wait until further research is done before giving a child CBD.
Concerns about CBD
While anecdotal evidence of the benefits of CBD is common, there are risks associated with using these products, especially in children. Some of the concerns:
- Products are unreliable in delivering a consistent amount of CBD. They could have less, or more, than advertised, and most do not offer independent verification of active contents. Analysis of products for sale show that many do not have the amount of CBD that they advertise. “So you can’t depend on the quality of what you’re getting,” notes Dr. Mitrani.
- How much is absorbed? Very little is known about how much CBD is actually delivered to the brain in a given product. Various delivery systems — vaping, taking it orally, eating it in baked goods, etc. — have different rates of delivery. Even the oils that the CBD is dissolved in can result in varying effects. “Effects can vary a lot based on the delivery system used and the amount people are exposed to can be inconsistent,” Dr. Mitrani says.
- Products may contain things other than CBD, and they could be harmful. Lab testing — which provides information about CBD levels, THC levels (if any), and contaminants in the product — isn’t mandatory for CBD products in every state. Without a CoA (Certificate of Analysis) it’s that much harder to verify the safety of the product. Bootleg CBD may be connected to recent lung illnesses and deaths that have been attributed to vaping. The CDC and the American Medical Association recommend avoiding vaping entirely while the cause of these illnesses is determined.
- CBD may be safe itself, but it may interact with other medications a child is taking, that are also metabolized in the liver.
- If it’s used for sleep, Dr. Mitrani worries that while it may potentially help with sleep, “your child may become tolerant to it and possibly experience worsening sleep problems if stopped.”
- Since CBD use — especially for kids — is a still so new, few people are familiar with dosing for children, so determining how much to give your child would be tricky. Clinical doses versus what you might find at a coffeehouse could vary dramatically.
- The legality of cannabis products and CBD is still murky. CBD derived from hemp is federally legal, while CBD derived from marijuana plants is subject to the legal status in each state — and remains federally illegal. Meanwhile, the FDA issued a statement making clear that products that contain CBD — even if they are derived from legal, commercial hemp — cannot claim to have therapeutic benefits or be sold as dietary supplements unless they have been approved by the FDA for that use.
Is CBD safe?
Last year the World Health Organization, acknowledging the explosion in “unsanctioned” medical uses of CBD, reviewed the evidence for its safety and effectiveness. The WHO report concluded that “CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.” Any adverse effects could be a result of interactions between CBD and a patient’s existing medications, the WHO noted.
The report found no indication of potential abuse or dependence. “To date there is no evidence of recreational use of CBD or any public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
As for effectiveness, the WHO noted that several clinical trials had shown effectiveness for epilepsy, adding: “There is also preliminary evidence that CBD may be a useful treatment for a number of other medical conditions.”
CBD oil for anxiety
In 2015 a group of researchers led by Esther Blessing, PhD, of New York University, investigated the potential of CBD for treating anxiety. In a review of 49 studies, they found promising results and the need for more study.
The “preclinical” evidence (ie from animal studies) “conclusively demonstrates CBD’s efficacy in reducing anxiety behaviors relevant to multiple disorders,” Dr. Blessing wrote. Those include generalized anxiety disorder, PTSD, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder and OCD.
The review notes that the promising preclinical results are also supported by human experimental findings, which also suggest “minimal sedative effects, and an excellent safety profile.” But these findings are based on putting healthy subjects in anxiety-producing situations and measuring the impact of CBD on the anxiety response. Further studies are required to establish treatment with CBD would have similar effects for those who struggle with chronic anxiety, as well as what the impact of extended CBD use may be.
“Overall, current evidence indicates CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders,” Dr. Blessing concludes, “with need for further study of chronic and therapeutic effects in relevant clinical populations.”
CBD and autism
A group of Israeli researchers have been exploring the use of CBD to reduce problem behaviors in children on the autism spectrum. A feasibility study involving 60 children found substantial improvement in behavioral outbreaks, anxiety and communication problems, as well as stress levels reported by parents.
The researchers, led by Adi Aran, MD, director of the pediatric neurology unit at Shaare Tzedek Medical Center, went on to do a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial with 150 participants with autism. In this trial, just completed but not yet analyzed, patients were treated CBD for three months.
In the US, research has been given a boost by changing guidelines and laws. In 2015 the DEA eased some of the regulatory requirements that have made CBD, as a Schedule 1 substance, difficult to study. “Because CBD contains less than 1 percent THC and has shown some potential medicinal value, there is great interest in studying it for medical applications,” the DEA said in announcing the change.
And in approving the first CBD-based drug, Epidiolex, last year the FDA expressed enthusiasm for the research boom that is sure to come, paired with stern words for the flood of marketers of products claiming unsubstantiated health benefits.
“We’ll continue to support rigorous scientific research on the potential medical uses of marijuana-derived products and work with product developers who are interested in bringing patients safe and effective, high quality products,” the FDA pledged. “But, at the same time, we are prepared to take action when we see the illegal marketing of CBD-containing products with serious, unproven medical claims.”