According to those who use them, essential oils can do a LOT to improve overall health. From getting rid of headaches to speeding healing to promoting relaxation, essential oils provide a ton of health benefits.
But what about sleep? Specifically, what about baby sleep? There are a number of oils that allegedly calm, relax, and promote better sleep…but can you use these oils to help your baby sleep? And, most importantly, even if you DO use them, will they actually work?
Amy Pond, one of our dedicated readers, offered to weigh in on this for us. As a big fan of essential oils herself, Amy is a mom who uses them with her whole family. Amy was happy to share her own tips and suggestions for how to use essential oils to help lengthen and improve your baby’s sleep.
Read on for details!
Can Essential Oils REALLY Help Your Baby Sleep?
In a word – probably! While there’s no specific evidence that essential oils are directly responsible for improving sleep, there are studies indicating that lavender can help. Lavender seems to relax and soothe babies and lead to better, deeper, longer sleep. That’s not surprising, since lavender is the most well-known oil for sleep problems. It is incredibly calming and has great sedative properties.
Roman chamomile is another great oil known for its calming, soothing, and relaxing properties. It has a light, floral scent and is wonderful for creating a peaceful environment.
Choosing and Using Essential Oils With Your Baby
First off, it is very important to make sure that your aromatherapy essential oils are pure therapeutic grade. Some store-bought essential oils can have unwanted ingredients like fillers, pesticides, chemicals, fragrances, and other synthetic additives. These fillers don’t have the same healing benefits as pure oil. It’s also important to remember that less is more! Often, 1 or 2 drops are all you need.
Remember to always, always use a carrier oil when using essential oils on babies and children. Carrier oils need to be used for a few reasons. They help dilute the very concentrated essential oils. They help aid in distributing the oils evenly. And, they prevent the essential oils from evaporating too quickly.
Good carrier oils include olive oil, almond oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, and jojoba oil. Dilution ratios are approximately 1-2 drops per 2 tablespoons of carrier oil for a baby and 1-2 drops per 1/2-1 teaspoon for a toddler or preschooler.
Now, when it comes to choosing oils, it’s important to note that how oils affect the nervous system will vary from person to person – so you may need to try other oils around bedtime to help your baby relax. Oils that work for your friends’ children may not work for yours. In fact, certain oils can actually have opposite effects on different people. For instance, wild orange is generally used as an energizing, pick-me-up oil for adults, but it can have the opposite effect on children, and be wonderfully calming before bed.
7 Ways Essential Oils Can Help Your Baby Sleep
1. Try a bedtime massage
Just before bed, and maybe right after bath, give your baby a nice massage with oil. Mix 1- 2 drops of lavender and Roman chamomile with 2 tablespoons of carrier oil and rub all along the arms, legs, back, tummy, feet, and ears. The massage itself is relaxing, and the fragrance of the oils will set the tone for a calm and peaceful night.
2. Diffuse the oils in your baby’s bedroom at bedtime
Just breathing and smelling the oils can work wonders for all of us – parents and children alike! You can put a drop of lavender on your child’s mattress, pillow, or lovey. Diffusing essential oils can actually help clean and purify the air in your child’s room. It can also be used to help with respiratory problems. Just a side note – I suggest using a cold air ultrasonic diffuser. Heating the oils can lessen their beneficial properties.
3. Use oils at bathtime
Bathtime can become a relaxing time! Put a few drops of lavender or Roman chamomile in the bathwater. A liquid soap or Epsom salt will help it disperse throughout the water.
4. Use essential oils to alleviate teething pain
Stick with me here – teething does impact sleep since it’s one of the many reasons why sleep can derail! If your baby is struggling with teething pain, try 1 drop of clove oil diluted in one tablespoon of carrier oil – then, dip your finger in the mixture and place directly on the gums. You can rub diluted lavender oil along the jawline as well to help with teething pain. White fir and Roman chamomile oil can also help alleviate teething pain when applied directly to the gums.
5. Use essential oils to lessen discomfort from earaches
If ear pain is keeping your baby up, try lavender oil to help with the pain. Rub diluted oil in front of and behind the outside of the ear. Melaleuca (tea tree) and basil oil are also great and can help with infection – put a drop of each oil on a cotton ball, place it inside the ear, and/ or rub it all around the ear. You can reapply as needed for pain. (Quick disclaimer regarding earaches – if your baby’s ears hurt, it’s best to see a healthcare provider for further evaluation. While essential oils can help alleviate pain, most healthcare providers will want to evaluate and treat an infection themselves.)
6. Try essential oils to help with colic/tummy pain
Stomach discomfort is obviously a big problem when you’re trying to get your little one to sleep! Fortunately, essential oils can help. Ginger, fennel, lavender, wild orange, marjoram, or Roman chamomile are all great oils for easing stomach trouble gently and naturally. Dilute a couple of drops with a tablespoon of carrier oil, and rub clockwise on the tummy a few times. (Again – if you believe your child’s tummy trouble may be due to a more serious health problem, see a healthcare provider.)
7. Essential oils can help alleviate coughing
Blend peppermint, eucalyptus, or melaleuca with a carrier oil, rub on the bottoms of your child’s feet, and then put socks on your child. Finally, rub the diluted oil on your child’s chest. This can work wonders at reducing and eliminating a persistent cough (although once again, if you suspect your child is ill, you’ll want to see a healthcare provider for evaluation – the oils are meant to alleviate the symptoms of illness, not to treat the illness itself). You can also use the diluted oil in a diffuser so that your child gets the benefit of breathing in the aroma.
Essential Oils: Baby Sleep In a Bottle?
Now, all this said – essential oils won’t make your baby sleep if your baby has sleep problems and sleep associations. Just like magnesium and iron supplements, and melatonin supplements, won’t solve your baby’s sleep problems, essential oils won’t make your child sleep. Rather, think of essential oils like white noise – it can help promote better sleep, but it won’t fix your child’s sleep issues.
Don’t despair, though – you CAN solve your child’s sleep issues, through the process of sleep coaching, or sleep training. When you sleep train, you gently wean your child away from any sleep associations she may have, and gradually teach her to fall asleep independently, without help from you. THIS is the key to eventually sleeping through the night; when your child can fall asleep independently at bedtime, she will eventually be able to fall back to sleep at night, when she wakes between sleep cycles, without help from you.
Once your child is able to sleep independently, you can use tools like white noise, blackout shades, and essential oils to help encourage better, deeper sleep. Those tools are like the icing on the sleep cake, so to speak. 😉
Amy Pond is an entrepreneur and essential mama of 4 children. She has a passion for health and natural wellness and loves to educate and empower parents with natural solutions for themselves and their families. Amy also enjoys spending time with friends and family, travel, reading, fitness, and a new love of hot yoga. Read more about Amy, and about her passion for wellness, at https://reachingforbalance.wordpress.com.