These days you can throw a rock and hit a self-proclaimed parenting expert, and while many of their ideas vary, there are some, like bedtime routines, that are consistent. I have yet to have a "good sleeper" (I'm choosing to believe those of you who tell me such a unicorn does exist), so my ears are constantly perked to take in any advice on the subject. And almost always, wisdom on bedtime routines includes things like a bath, calming lotion, PJs, and a book. The others aren't a hard sell, but does lavender bedtime lotion really help babies sleep?
A magical lotion that sends my baby to La La Land seems a little far fetched to me but hey, weirder things have turned out to be true. So out of curiosity, I took the question to a mommy Facebook group that I'm a part of to see what other parents had to say on the topic.
One recurring theme that kept coming up in the comments was the presence of lavender oil in the sleep-promoting lotions. Many parents seem to agree that lavender is the key to any extra ZZZs such lotions might bring — and some do claim to be nabbing them.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), these moms are on to something. An Alternative Medicine Guide on the UMMC website confirms that there is scientific evidence to suggest that lavender may slow the activity of the nervous system and help with sleep quality.
The UMMC has quoted studies that show a positive correlation between massage with lavender oil (an ingredient in most bedtime lotions) and improved sleep quality as well as reduced anxiety. In fact, "In one study, people who received massage with lavender felt less anxious and more positive than those who received massage alone." Not a bad way to be tucked in at night.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the anecdotal answers I got from members of my Facebook group were inconclusive either way, yet there were enough affirmative responses to keep me from writing the whole idea off completely. After all, if it works for one person, it isn't impossible to hope that it might work for me.
Comments I received ranged from, "It never helped my kids" to "It might just be that she's older, but I felt like the lotion helped," but the most commonly noted benefit was the effectiveness of the ritual, not the bedtime lotion product itself. One commenter specifically wrote, "When we've used it, it's been helpful, but I think that's more because it encourages a good routine than anything else."
That mentality is widely accepted and, as Parents magazine has pointed out, "It is difficult for anyone to fall asleep after a busy day without some time to calm down. Like adults, babies need a bedtime routine to simply unwind from the day." Most of us parents would say the same for ourselves — I know I would. No one wants to go from full-on party mode to hitting the hay in zero to three seconds. OK, at least not since we were in college.
There's nothing wrong with trying out a nighttime lotion on your wee one, but don't be surprised if the effects aren't incredibly noteworthy. If my research and pool of mommy friends are right, establishing a bedtime ritual that might include a special lotion is likely your best bet for a good night's sleep. Throw in a little lavender for good measure — whether in a lotion, an oil diffuser, or hanging in a nearby satchel — and you just might be on your way.
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