Lavender is one of the most popular scents and has been around since antiquity. It has been used throughout history for various medicinal ailments. It is a gentle aroma that seems to bring a sense of comfort and calm to the majority of people who come into contact with it; for this reason alone, lavender is ideal to use with baby. There are a couple of ways that you can use lavender as a natural remedy to help calm baby – and get a good night’s sleep!
Lavender (Lavandula spp.) belongs to the Lamiaceae botanical family. It is important to know that there are many varieties of lavender and each species of lavender may have a slightly different aroma, a different appearance or a different use. Some of the most common varieties of lavender are true lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), spike lavender (Lavandula latifolia) and lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia). However, lavender can also be described as French lavender (Lavandula dentata) and Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas).
Depending on the purpose for the use of your lavender, check which species of lavender you are actually choosing before deciding how you are going to use it; in general, true lavender is the preferred species of lavender to use with baby in aromatherapy.
The Connection Between Scent, Mom and Baby
One of the first smells that a baby recognizes is that of its mother; the bond between mother and baby is vital in the early days. You can introduce the smell of lavender (or any other familiar scent for that matter) to baby even before baby is born. Studies have shown that the smells “inhaled” by baby via the amniotic fluid pre-natal are also the smells preferred by baby post-birth (source: Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, Shirley Price, Len Price).
Therefore, if mom surrounds herself with the scent of lavender prior to baby’s birth, baby will be familiar with that particular fragrance once baby is born. Lavender is also a useful oil to have around during mom’s labor; it can help with pain relief and to relax mom. However, do not use lavender essential oil in labor without the expert guidance and advice of a midwife who has training in the use of aromatherapy.
Using Lavender Sachets
Lavender sachets are perhaps one of the easiest ways in which to introduce baby to the use of lavender in “aromatherapy” once baby is born. You can purchase or make all sorts of lavender aromatherapy sachets; some sachets are designed to slip beneath baby’s pillow, others are designed to sit by baby’s crib or cot. Lavender sachets contain fragrant lavender buds that have been extracted and dried from the lavender plant. It is important to make sure that baby does not have access in any way to ingest these buds, so make sure the sachet is secure.
Using Lavender as an Oil or Lotion in Aromatherapy
True lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil is the best type of lavender oil to use with baby for aromatherapy. True lavender essential oil primarily contains the gentle chemical components of alcohols and esters, making it suitable to use with baby. However, only use in minute quantities with baby.
Baby’s skin is usually more receptive to lotion than massage oils at a very young age, so try using lavender oil in a lotion to start with, rather than a vegetable oil. Lotion is also less slippery than vegetable oil. You can massage baby lightly with a lavender lotion to help baby to sleep. Consult a qualified and experienced aromatherapist on how much to use, if you are unfamiliar with the use of essential oils. At a young age, quantity is usually established by the weight of the child; in general one drop of lavender oil is enough for babies.
Cautions for Using Lavender Aromatherapy for Baby
In general, lavender is a safe plant and oil to use in aromatherapy for baby. However, if you are using lavender essential oil, always remember to dilute the oil in a carrier such as a lotion or a vegetable oil; never apply an essential oil undiluted to baby’s skin. In addition, do not allow baby to ingest either lavender oil or lavender buds.
Lavender is a therapeutic aroma that will help both mom and baby get a better night’s sleep if used in the right way!
- Price, Shirley, Price, Len, Aromatherapy for Health Professionals
- International Journal of Clinical Aromatherapy (2005), Pediatric Care Volume 2, Issue 2: Australia
- Author’s own experience and training