Lavender is one of the most talked about, and most used, flowers for its scent and healing properties. Not only does it have a long history in use as a herb, but it is still in popular use today. 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.
Lavender is a scent which I recommend to new moms and babies to help them get through those first few months of sleepless nights. One of my favorite gifts to new moms is a basketful of lavender goodies! I recently just received another confirmation (and heartfelt thanks!) from a new mom who had used lavender to help baby sleep. Therefore, I thought it apt to write another reminder about how lavender can help both baby and mom in those first few months together.
This article appeared in its original format on the Natural Health Ezine but I adapted and updated it for this week’s post.
Types of Lavender
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), making it more confusing!
Why Scent is Important to Baby and Mom
The bond between mother and baby is vital in the early days and one of the first smells that a baby recognizes is that of its mother. Any scent introduced to baby before he/she is born, will also help baby to recognize familiarity when they are 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.
Ways for Mom to Use Lavender in Pregnancy
Mom can introduce a calming scent such as lavender to baby before baby is born, helping baby to become familiar with that particular fragrance once baby is born and help with the transition into a strange, new world. This might be in the form of an essential oil diffuser or in the form of lavender sachets.
Mom can also use a lavender massage oil for back pain during pregnancy or take a relaxing bath with a lavender bath oil. Lavender is also useful as an essential oil 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.
Lavender Sachets for Baby
Lavender sachets are 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 that the sachet is secure.
Using Lavender Lotion or Oil for Baby
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 especially suitable for baby. However, you should only use minute quantities to start with, as babies are small and don’t require the same amount as a full grown adult (see following paragraph for guidelines on use).
Baby’s skin is usually more receptive to lotion than massage oils at such a 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 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.
Learn About Lavender
If you are interested in learning more about lavender, consider taking the Sedona Aromatherapie Lavender Aromatherapy Short Course, details of which are found here. In addition, I have several lavender sachets and products suitable for baby in the Sedona Aromatherapie webstore. If you can’t see what you want, don’t hesitate to ask me for a custom blend!
Price, Shirley, Price, Len, 2012, Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, UK:Churchill Livingstone
International Journal of Clinical Aromatherapy (2005), Pediatric Care Volume 2, Issue 2: Australia
Author’s own experience and training