Parents of newborns know that sleep can be hard to come by in those early days. It's no coincidence that there are dozens of books, products and programs that promise to help parents get their babies to sleep or to sleep longer. One of the most common remedies suggested to help newborns sleep is the scent of lavender. There are many natural properties in lavender that can help newborns get to sleep and to sleep more deeply.
Lavender and Sleep
Several studies have shown that lavender promotes sleep as well as encourages deeper, more restful sleep. A 2005 study out of Wesleyan University showed that lavender increased deep sleep and decreased the amount of time it took to fall asleep. In addition to lavender's sedative affect, research shows that it decreases anxiety. Babies may not experience anxiety as adults do, but as they learn that they are separate individuals from their parents, they can be confused and distressed. Lavender can help to ease this distress. A 2007 study funded by Johnson & Johnson found that lavender-scented bath oil helped infants to cry less and to sleep more deeply.
There are many ways that parents can safely use lavender for their newborn. Lotions, essential oils and baby shampoos can expose a newborn to the calming scent. Parents can give baby a rubdown with a lavender lotion after bath time, or can provide a gentle massage with a few drops of a lavender essential oil. Essential oils or lavender soaps can also be put in the bath.
Other Uses of Lavender
Many other products containing lavender scents or lavender oils are also available. A sachet with dried lavender or that has been treated with drops of essential oils can be placed under baby's blanket or next to the crib or bassinet. A stuffed toy or lovey can be treated with a few drops of essential oil. Some specialty mattresses release lavender scents at night while baby is sleeping.
Overloading your baby with lavender products -- such as giving a bath with lavender soap then following it up with a rubdown in lavender lotion and putting baby to bed in a crib with a lavender sachet and a lavender-treated lovey -- can backfire. The scent can become overwhelming and have the opposite effect -- rather than sleepy, your baby may be too stimulated or irritated, causing him to become agitated.