It's not always easy to get a newborn baby to sleep. Totally new information, right? Truth is, new parents are no stranger to the ups and downs of getting a baby to nod off. Whether it's simply "Hey, mom, I'm new here!" or colic, babies aren't always predictable when it comes to sleep, especially if they hear your head hitting the pillow. (I swear, it's a thing.) So it's not uncommon for parents to seek some tried-and-true tricks, like fancy rocking chairs, pacifiers, and nighttime balms. But what about everyone's favorite, lavender? Can lavender essential oil help your baby sleep?
"While there are not enough studies about this topic, lavender oil can help a baby sleep," Dr. Daniel Ganjian, a pediatrician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells Romper. "It can be soothing and cause the baby to relax." Like Ganjian, The Baby Sleep Site touted the ability for lavender to help a baby feel calm, leading to better sleep. "That's not surprising, since lavender is the most well known oil for sleep problems," the website noted.
It is important to keep in mind, however, that how you apply lavender oil is essential (pun intended). If you do choose to give lavender oil a try, you cannot place it directly on your baby's skin because of its potency. Instead, the essential oil should be diluted with what is known as a carrier oil, such as olive, almond, coconut, or jojoba. According to Mama Natural, if your child is a newborn to 6 months, you should use oils sparingly and use a .25 percent solution when you do apply them, diluting one drop of essential oil per 1.5 tablespoons of carrier oil. The website noted that children 6 months to 2 years should be treated with a .25 percent to .5 percent solution, diluting one drop of essential oil per one tablespoon of carrier oil. Older children and adults can work with different combinations. These applications should be regarded in the case of all essential oils.
Ganjian notes that there are a few other safety points to keep in mind when using oils around a child. "Never leave the bottle of essential oil next to the child as ingesting it can be dangerous," he says. "Use a diffuser or place on some cotton balls and place it outside the crib."
According to Robert Tisserand's Essential Oil Safety, "The majority of cases of essential oil poisoning involve accidents with young children, often between 1 and 3 years of age. Approximately 75 percent of cases in the USA are in children up to 6 years old."
Ganjian says parents also should not use essential oils in babies who are coughing or wheezing "as they can cause increase in airway inflammation and worsening cough."
It's also important to keep in mind that certain oils are harmful when used on or around young children, like peppermint and clary sage. In addition to lavender, it is safe to diffuse and topically apply (when mixed with a carrier oil) several oils for children 2 years and under, including bergamot, lemon, patchouli, tea tree, and cinnamon leaf. No essential oils should be given orally to children.
If you do decide to give lavender oil a shot, then consider making it a part of your bedtime routine. "Diffusing essential oils in baby’s room while you’re changing into pajamas or reading a book is a wonderful way to set the stage for bedtime," noted Katie at The Well-Rested Nest. I have a friend who does this by massaging a bit of diluted lavender oil on her son's feet before bed. She swears by the habit and, truth is, her kid sleeps like a dream.
Many mothers also swear by chamomile for relieving symptoms of colic and garlic oil for ear infections. But no matter which route you go, it's important to consult your pediatrician with any questions about essential oils usage.
As for you, I say try lavender on your baby, then give yourself a little dose. Imagine what a world it would be if you both slept?
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