Is It Safe To Burn Candles Around Babies? (Not Really)

Whether you’ve got a young baby, are expecting, or will be having young guests stay at your home, checking whether or not it is safe to burn candles is a great idea. You might be used to burning them and love them around your home, but as any parent knows, you constantly wonder whether things are safe for your new arrivals! Babies do come associated with unpleasant smells, so keep on reading if you’re keen to know what’s safe and what’s not.

For those who don’t have much time (after all, caring for babies is exhausting!), here’s a quick answer for you:

Is it safe to burn candles around babies? Due to a babies lungs not being fully developed, burning candles and especially scented candles is not safe around babies. Some candles such as paraffin wax candles also release toxins when burnt which could harm the baby.

A photo of a baby
Did you know that burning candles around babies could harm their health?

Let’s now take a deeper look into the reasons why you should not expose a baby to candles.

Are scented candles safe to use around babies?

As much as most of us love a scented candle, they can be really overwhelming for babies – and harmful even. So, just like you would with other strong scents like perfume, aerosols and cleaning products, it is advisable to avoid having these around your baby. This goes for synthetic scents such as fragrance oils and also essential oils which can cause allergic reactions.

Babies’ lungs are still developing and growing. Adding chemicals or scents into the room can be harmful, particularly if you don’t know the candle’s ingredients. If there are people in the family who have allergies or asthma, your baby will have a higher chance of developing these conditions, so it’s best to exercise caution with anything that can affect delicate lungs.

While we would never advocate using scented candles around your baby, once they’re tucked away at night in their own room, nothing is stopping you from lighting up your favourite scented candle for a couple of hours. Be careful though, parenting is exhausting, and sleepiness can lead to house fires when candles are left burning!

Are there any candles that are safe around babies?

If you’re really desperate to light a candle, there are alternatives. Firstly, if it’s the warm glow that you miss, you could try electric candles. There are some great ones available nowadays that look very realistic. There are even some that have a slight scent now too! Being flameless means they’re a win-win for tired parents and moving babies too!

If electric candles don’t do it for you and you really want that natural flicker of a flame, you should opt for unscented, natural wax such as beeswax candles rather than paraffin wax candles. Paraffin is derived from petroleum, and so has all the nasties we associate with burning this fossil fuel. 

Studies have shown paraffin candles to emit carcinogens and toxins – and we really don’t want our children exposed to those! Be careful, though; even candles that label themselves ‘soy’ or ‘beeswax’ only have to contain as little as 51% of the natural wax to be labelled as such. Often these will be labelled as Soy wax blend.

So since you can’t be too careful, always check the label!

If you’re looking for the best wax for candles to use around babies, then beeswax is the most natural. It even has a pleasant scent. Beeswax isn’t treated in the same way other natural waxes like soy or palm oil wax are. Thanks to honey bees, it’s pretty much a finished product straight from the hive!

Take a look a look at these candles on Amazon which are your best option for a baby safe candle.

If you do choose a scented candle, make sure that the scent is 100% naturally derived and comes from essential oils rather than an artificial fragrance.

You should also ensure that you maintain the wick of your candle to avoid any excess soot being released into the air. This will also stop your candles flame from burning to high.

A photo of 6 of my scented soy wax candles
Scented candles are perfect for when you want to relax and unwind but save it for when the baby is not there.

Is it safe to use scented candles when pregnant?

Believe it or not, a baby’s sense of smell develops in the womb – and very early on in the pregnancy too. When pregnant, the food that you eat will change the way the amniotic fluid tastes. Babies practise breathing with the amniotic fluid and also swallow it. Therefore, it’s safe to say that a baby’s sense of smell is very well-developed. However, babies can’t smell the outside world when in the womb, so they wouldn’t be able to smell your scented candle. 

Even though a baby is well protected inside the womb, a pregnant woman needs to consider her own health too. As soon as those two lines appear on the pregnancy test, women often stop eating and drinking certain items, and many also re-consider their use of scented candles.

Scented candles are a great way for a pregnant woman to relax in the evening. However, you should be mindful of the ingredients in the candle. Paraffin wax should be avoided due to its carcinogens like toluene and benzene. Also, fragrance oils added to candles change the way the wax burns and can often make the candle produce more soot into the air. If you really want to burn a scented candle during pregnancy, go for a natural wax candle like soy wax or beeswax. Read the label to ensure this is 100% natural wax and doesn’t have any paraffin added to make a better burn.

Making sure a baby can’t touch candles

While babies are small and immobile, you might not consider hazards around the home as much as you would when they’re a little older. However, babies can start moving and rolling over at a young age, so it’s best to get into good habits before they become mobile. 

Of course, candles with naked flames are a big danger when it comes to babies on the move. But it’s not just lit candles that can be a problem – unlit candles also pose a hazard.

Candles and babies don’t mix

The obvious problems with babies and candles are burns and starting fires, but we must also consider the fact that babies love putting things in their mouths. 

While wax poisoning with natural waxes isn’t likely, petroleum-based paraffin is a little more serious. The signs of wax poisoning include stomach or abdominal pain, vomiting, and bowel obstructions when a large amount is consumed. Generally speaking, wax poisoning is not a serious condition, but it should always be avoided. 

If a baby or young child does consume candle wax, you should not try to induce vomiting but instead, call the doctor for advice.

Final thoughts – is it safe to burn candles around babies?

While it can be safe to burn unscented, natural wax candles around babies, you need to consider if it’s worth the risk. With a mesmerizing open flame and the tiredness that comes with being a parent, you really need to think about alternatives, at least while your child is present. 

If you do wish to burn a candle around a baby, you should ensure a 100% natural wax candle like beeswax or soy wax and avoid paraffin and unnatural fragrances. Ideally, choose an electric candle, so you don’t need to worry about burns or unwanted consumption!

While it’s the naked flame that most parents worry about (and rightly so), there are other dangers associated with candles and paraffin ones in particular. When children can move, so should candles – even if they’re not alight. 

Andrew Scents and Aroma