How to Safely Use Lavender to Help Your Little One Sleep

While you should always be cautious with plant-based medicine, using lavender for babies and kids can be effective and safe when it comes to holistic healing.

how to safely use lavender to help your baby or toddler sleep soundly

Lavender and Babies

Throughout history, lavender has been used for perfume, washing, and even medicines. It was a staple for mothers from days past, and while no mama could prove its uses or benefits, it had a reputation for easing anxiety and giving a better night’s sleep.

Lavender fell out of favor for a little while, but now, new discoveries in sleep behavior, biology, and aromatherapy are showing that lavender is indeed the herb of every natural mama’s dreams.

Is Lavender Essential Oils Safe for Babies?

Lavender is an herb known best for its ability to enhance relaxation and promote restful sleep. While you should always be cautious when using plant-based medicine, lavender is safe for babies – making it a versatile option for both babies and kids.

Sleep Patterns and Circadian Rhythms

In the center of the brain, there’s a nerve of cells known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus or SCN (source). It’s located right above the spot where the brain meets the optic nerves of the eyes. This is important because it tunes the SCN to night and day. When the SCN perceives darkness, it cues production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Melatonin production continues on throughout the night until daylight triggers the SCN to stop.

This natural cycle of night and day establishes baby’s circadian rhythm (basically, it’s like a biological schedule for genes, hormones, and things that regulate different behaviors).

Babies are in total darkness in the womb, so their internal clocks slowly develop after birth. That means that sleeping like a baby doesn’t come naturally to a baby.

As all mothers know, it can take some time for baby to get into their natural flow. Hence, routine!

Routine a-la Lavender

As parents, virtually every article that pops up in our newsfeed has an expert talking about the importance of routine. A little structure really will do wonders with sanity, no doubt, but it goes beyond predictability when it comes to babies and kids.

Routines with roughly consistent times for naps, meals, and bedtime will help set baby’s natural circadian rhythm and create a biological habit. So, while a warm bath will help babies relax, a nightly bath can actually serve as a circadian cue to baby’s body that it’s time to wind down.

Adding a lavender sleep spray, bath salt or essential oil to the bath routine can make this cue even more powerful. The lovely herb has a long reputation for promoting relaxation, calm moods, and better sleep. Science even backs it up! One scientific study showed lavender was as effective against general anxiety disorder as medication (source). Others show that lavender can alleviate PTSD and postnatal depression.

Lavender and the Emotional Brain

We can all appreciate pleasant smells, but lavender’s ability to calm and soothe isn’t just because of its flowery scent. The smell of cookies in the oven; simmering stews; fresh roses. We all have scents that strike a certain chord, and it’s because smell has a powerful tie to memory and emotions.

Related: Relaxing Lavender Lemonade Recipe

That’s because the nose has a direct path to the olfactory system, which has a direct connection to the limbic system of the brain. The limbic system performs a variety of important functions, with many of them involving emotions (thus its nickname the “emotional brain”).

Naturally, the emotional limbic system is connected to the areas of the brain that regulate blood pressure, hormones, breathing, and so on. We all know that emotions can have an immediate impact on the body. This is important to note, because the connection between the olfactory system and the limbic system means scent can also have an instant snap-effect on emotions. In fact, nostalgia and expectations alone can influence behavior (source).

Lavender and the Body

The benefits of high-grade lavender products go straight to the nose, but the skin gets them, too. Lavender is packed with soothing compounds that heal wounds, soothe allergic reactions, fight infection, and ease eczema. Studies show lavender reduces pain and itching from bug bites, bee stings, and burns. And lavender is so gentle and healing, it’s generally tolerated even by sensitive skin.

Safe Products Containing Lavender

Just because a bottle of baby lotion touts purple moons on the label, it doesn’t make it safe for your little one. Many store brands still contain parabens, sulfates, propylene glycol, and other harmful ingredients.

These products use lavender for babies and kids safely:

Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Liquid Soap
Yogi Tea – Stress Relief
Earth Mama Calming Lavender Body Wash & Shampoo
Earth Mama Calming Lavender Baby Lotion
Lavender Calming Bath Bombs

Dried Lavender Herb Uses

Little ones love this lavender lemonade recipe. It’s both refreshing and relaxing. Plus it’s easy enough for kids to help make.

Relaxing herbal lavender tea

As a mother, you’re the emotional thermostat of your home. There’s nothing like a soothing cup of tea for your own wellbeing and to set the stage for a calm household. Lavender on its own is a bit strong for tea. This recipes balances it out nicely.

Lavender Chamomile tea recipe

Place lavender and chamomile into a tea strainer. Pour hot water over them. Allow to steep for about 10 minutes, add local honey if desired, and enjoy.

Fabric softener alternative

Most dryer sheets contain chemicals you don’t want near your little one’s skin. Make DIY dryer sachets by adding dried lavender flowers to small organza bags (you probably have some on hand from when you buy from small businesses). You can also use these as drawer fresheners. Or simply add a few drops of lavender oil to wool dryer balls.

Lavender Essential Oils for Babies Uses

Diffuse at bedtime | Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to a diffuser each evening. Diffusing essential oils around babies is safe, soothing and calming for everyone in your home.

DIY Insect Repellent | This DIY bug spray recipe is simple to make, lasts a long time, and most importantly – really works.

Combine ingredients in a 4 ounce glass spray bottle with a fine mist setting. Shake well and use! Essential oils don’t dissolve in water, so be sure to shake the bottle before each use.

DIY First Aid Ointment

The popular brand of antibiotic ointment uses a petroleum byproduct for its base, and petroleum isn’t one of the healthiest ways to heal a wound.

Place all ingredients (except for the essential oils for babies) in a double boiler. (You could also place a mason jar into a pot of water on the stovetop.)
Stir gently until the mixture has become liquid and clear.
Remove from heat and add 10 drops of each essential oil.
Stir and pour into a sterilized storage container.

Lavender for Eczema Relief 

Mix a drop of lavender essential oil with coconut or almond oil and rub on the affected area for eczema.

Lavender for Hay Fever Relief

Mix a drop of lavender essential oil with a drop each of lemon and peppermint essential oils and inhale the vapors to aid the body in its response to histamines.

Lavender for Babies, Kids, and Moms

If you have yet to try lavender essential oils for babies, now you know the benefits it provides! Diffusing essential oils around babies is safe and soothing for the whole family. Give it a try and enjoy the relief and calmness that lavender for babies brings to your home.

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  1. Karen Armstrong says:

    Thank you for sharing valuable information. I got so much important informative knowledge from your blog.

  2. I love natural products! I’ve been using some essential oils at home, including kids room, especially jasmine (which I love!) for sleep. I must try lavender now. We have good routine settled and since the gentle sleep training (I recommend Susan’s parental-love blog and books) we don’t really have trouble sleeping. But it’s always good to add something new and nice to the routine. Will see how it goes!

    1. High five to Susan’s sleep training guide! I loved her book and it helped be to stay sane. Also it was so easy to follow with her step-by-step form. Just brilliant!

  3. That’s super interesting! I’m just starting establishing bedtime routine following How to teach a baby to fall asleep alone guide. Susan Urban says nothing about it but maybe we could ad some rubbing to the basic set! I’m going to test it tomorrow!

  4. Sara Parise says:

    We rub lavender oil on our daughters feet before bedtime. It tends to help her get to sleep just a little faster 🙂