This week’s Baby Sleep A-Z is focusing on E for essential oils. Do you use them to help baby (or you) sleep? Have you considered using them? Here’s a very quick guide for those just starting out.
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are concentrated liquids derived from plants- essential because they contain the essence of the plant’s fragrance. They’re not ‘essential’ in terms of health, although many believe they can be powerful remedies for certain ailments and conditions.
Essential oils are obtained by various methods of extractions, usually by using steam, and they’re used in cosmetics, perfumes, soaps and for flavouring food too. Historically, essential oils have been used to in medicine, although this is not as common these days. That said, essential oils can and do have certain powerful effects, and careful use is always recommended.
How can essential oils help with baby sleep?
The jury may be out on how effective essential oils can be, but that’s not to say they are useless. The truth is that essential oils can be a safe way to improve baby sleep, in the same way that they can help to relieve headaches and soothe away your stresses. Be aware though that using essential oils may not signal the end of any sleep issues you’re currently having; as with anything, you need to keep an open mind.
Scientifically, essential oils have not been proved to help promote sleep- but studies have shown that some oils can help significantly.
Which essential oils are safe to use with babies?
Remember that essential oils are extremely concentrated combinations of chemicals, and caution must be practised at all times. Some essential oils are not suitable for use in pregnancy or while you’re breastfeeding, and similarly some are not suitable to be used with babies and children either. It’s worth noting too that essential oils must be diluted when you use them with babies, and they should all be stored out of reach, in a locked cupboard if possible. Some essential oils can be toxic if they’re ingested; essential oils should never be given orally to babies or children.
Main safety rules:
- ALWAYS dilute essential oils when using with children and babies, even if adding to bath water
- Never give essential oils orally
- Never use essential oils in or around the nose
- Introduce new essential oils one at a time, so that you can monitor any reactions
- Don’t use essential oils on babies under the age of three months
The following essential oils are safe to use with baby from 3 months:
- Chamomile, Roman and German
- Yarrow, blue
The following essential oils are safe to use with baby from 6 months:
- Carrot Seed
- Cedarwood, Atlas/Virgina use with caution as this can cause skin irritation if not properly diluted.
- Fir needle
- Palma Rosa
- Pine use with caution topically as it can cause skin irritation if not properly diluted.
- Rose Otto
- Sweet Orange
- Tea Tree
When you buy your essential oils, make sure that they are pure grade, and not filled with added chemicals that are not necessary. Read your labels very carefully! And remember that you only need 1-2 drops at the most, with a carrier oil.
A carrier oil is an oil that you use to mix with the essential oil to dilute it and help the oil to distribute evenly, whilst at the same time preventing evaporation. Suitable carrier oils include olive oil, almond oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, and jojoba oil. To dilute, use 1-2 drops per 2 tablespoons of carrier oil for baby and 1-2 drops per 1/2-1 teaspoon for an older child. If unsure, ask when you buy.
Which essential oils help to promote better baby sleep?
Lavender has long since been promoted as the essential baby sleep oil, and for good reason! It has amazing calming and soothing properties, but it’s not the only essential oil that could help promote baby sleep.
Other oils to try include:
- Chamomile (Roman)
How to use them:
- Baby massage: if you already finish your day with a massage for baby, there’s no reason why you can’t incorporate essential oils into this routine.
- Diffusion: add a few drops to baby’s comforter or mattress; breathing in the aroma can work wonders for sleep.
- In the bath: add a few drops to warm water to help relax and soothe.
Do you use essential oils to help baby sleep?