As new moms, we all crave a bit of sleep. We panic if the baby seems restless and then comes teething, and everyone feels tense. A common piece of advice people give is to pop a bit of lavender oil in a diffuser. But our question today is this. Is lavender essential oil safe for babies? For the purposes of this article, we’ll call the baby “her”, but of course, this applies to all babies.
Theoretically, lavender is safe for babies, yes. However, newborns navigate the world by their sense of smell. They recognize their parents and siblings by fragrance and can even distinguish their mothers' amniotic fluids from other women’s, up to three weeks after birth. So, smothering a newborn with lavender oil, or any other essential oil will confuse her, may upset her, and can cause more harm than good.
Likewise, her delicate skin is not yet developed enough to tolerate essential oils. Used skillfully though, lavender oil is safe and a helpful oil to use. Let’s look at what that might look like.
Is Lavender Essential Oil Safe For Babies Smell?
Desirable? Possibly not and it's hard to know because the smell is a completely unique sensory thing. Just like adults, they might simply decide the fragrance is not for them. The only way they have to tell you that is to cry.
Rather than filling the baby’s room with lavender, which could give her a headache, incidentally, it’s better to use a really cautious and gradual approach.
Lavender essential oil is a calm and gentle essential oil. It even has the resonance of being cuddled and rocked to sleep. It’s a lovely help for new moms, right up till the kids are teenagers. The secret to using it is to make them associate the lavender fragrance with mom. Once they do this, then you can start integrating it into more things.
Rather than using diffusers, try adding a drop of lavender essential oil to your breast pads and pop them into your bra. Then when you breastfeed or snuggle the little one, she’ll smell the mild fragrance.
What’s great about this method is, as mom secretes milk onto the pad, it also collects the scent of her. Then at the end of the evening, you can just put the breast pad into the crib with the infant, and she will be reassured that her mother is close by.
This is the safest and most effective way to employ essential oils into your baby’s nighttime routine.
Is Lavender Essential Oil Safe To Diffuse Around Babies?
If we’ve done our jobs right, then hopefully you should be able to answer this question for yourself now. Yes, it is, as long as you keep the dilution really low. You only really want a single drop. Safe though, might not be the whole picture. It may disturb the baby if they do not associate you with lavender.
An interesting aspect to consider with this is how babies' cortisol levels work.
Cortisol is a stress hormone that tells the body how to react when we are stressed. Without getting too technical, cortisol can become problematic during times of long-term stress, by throwing up inflammation in the body.
What’s fascinating is that academic researchers have discovered that babies do not develop their own cortisol response until they are about two years old. Until that time, they mimic their mothers’. The more stressed mom is, the more likely she is to have a fussy baby.
Consider Swapping Out Diffusion For Something More Luxurious For You
It might be that diffusing essential oils around a baby is not as effective as ensuring that mom is calm. Relaxing in a warm bath with a few drops of lavender after you have got the baby down for the night, might be more helpful to both of you than it first appears. Likewise, if you can encourage your partner or a friend to give you an aromatherapy massage, it is an investment for both of you.
One final point on diffusion, prolonged use of any essential oil can cause sensitization and headaches. Lavender is especially bad for this, and we should never assume that babies like a fragrance just because we do. Try to change it up a bit, implement more oils into your own body care so she starts to expect you to smell nicely different, then as soon as you are convinced they know and like the fragrance you can add other oils into the mix.
To be a bit fuller:
What essential oils are safe to diffuse around babies?
A good guide is to stay with the flowers. Ones that are distilled from leaves can be a bit harsh. Lovely soothing ones are rose, geranium, chamomile, jasmine, and neroli.
This is a pertinent point to say that if a baby has a cold do not be tempted to diffuse peppermint or eucalyptus essential oils, both of which are unsafe for babies. Frankincense is a lovely soothing alternative that will not only comfort and relax babies but will also help to open their stuffy airways too.
Is Lavender Essential Oil Safe For Babies’ Baths?
Again, be careful. Many aromatherapists prefer to run a basin full of hot water and put a couple of drops into that so that the vapor reaches the baby while she is in a much safer, cooler bath. This way protects her delicate skin, and it also helps her to associate happy bedtime rituals with the calming fragrance of lavender.
When the baby reaches about 6 months, it now becomes safer to add essential oils to her water. Lavender is safe and gentle. Just remember that oil and water do not mix, so it’s important to dilute the essential oil into a carrier before adding that to the bath.
Normal essential oil safety for adults would be to dilute to 3%, but for children, really we need to be going down to 1% and even lower for babies. We recommend a maximum dilution of 0.25%.
Remember that a baby is far more interested in your mood than the essential oils. So, the tiniest dilution is going to do wonders for both of you.
Is Lavender Essential Oil Safe For Babies’ Skins?
As adults, we secrete sebum and other filters that protect our skin, but this has not properly formed in babies younger than 6 months old. Babies' skins are more sensitive than adults so ideally, we would not apply anything to a small baby’s sensitive skin except water. However we do not always live in a perfect world, and sometimes it is worth employing in emergency situations. Heel prick tests, colds, and vaccinations can all really upset tiny ones and so if you really do have to bring out the big guns, it’s important that you ensure that you dilute the essential oils well.
Is Lavender Essential Oil Safe For Babies’ Diaper Rash?
A drop of lavender essential oil, well blended into some bum cream is so soothing for diaper rash. It would be further improved by adding one drop of Roman chamomile.
To be safe, think one tablespoon of cream or carrier oil to one drop of essential oil. If you don’t have any bottom salve, you could use fractionated coconut oil, almond oil, or olive oil. Be mindful that these oils are made from nuts, so if there is a suspicion of a nut allergy, try olive or sunflower oil instead. If you have time, it’s worth doing a little skin patch test first.
Is Lavender Essential Oil Safe For Babies’ Massage?
This is a beautiful one. Remember, we only really want to add essential oils after they are about 6 months, unless we have a dire emergency. Otherwise, just use calm soothing massage strokes with a dusting of talcum powder on your hands to help them slip.
When they reach 6 months old, then a couple of drops of lavender essential oil in a carrier will be lovely for baby massage.
Is Lavender Essential Oil Safe for Babies’ Bug Bites?
Yep, perfect usage. Again, get really diluted as explained above. Its linalyl acetate and linalool are so soothing, lavender should reduce itching and stinginess quickly. You might also want to add a single drop of tea tree to ensure there are no bacteria or infection issues lurking.
Essential oils are not advised for oral use. Hopefully, it goes without saying that they should not be ingested. Always place them well out of the reach of little fingers. If they do happen to accidentally ingest lavender oil, please take the child and the bottle to the emergency room.
Is lavender essential oil safe for babies? It is, depending on their age and how mindful and careful you are with the oil.