Any parent with a toddler will tell you how hard it is to get them to go to sleep (and stay there!) through the night. There’s a whole cottage industry on the topic, mostly based on old wives’ tales, olde-worlde medicine, and new-age esotericism/wishful thinking. But did you know that you can use essential oils to help your little ones sleep faster and better?
Sadly, my son is all grown up now but they sure worked whenever I was roped in to do emergency nanny duty to my little nephews and nieces. If I had known these invaluable tips and tricks when my son was a baby, I would have saved myself a ton of bedtime misery.
Check out these very easy (and safe!) ways to get your fussy child sleeping snug as a bug at night.
5 Essential Oils That Promote Sleep
There are approximately 300 different essential oils available today, and many make you feel relaxed and sleepy. There are five in particular that you want to try, as they are almost guaranteed to lull even the most rambunctious toddler to sleep.
Essential Oils for Sleep
- Clary Sage
- Sweet Orange
Many of these may be familiar to you as lavender, orange peel, and chamomile are already in most American households: one as a flower, one as citrus, and one as a tea. As for the others, cedarwood has a sweet, earthy scent and clary sage is very earthy.
Important! How to Check for Allergies
Essential oils are natural and (if you choose carefully) organic, but just because they are doesn’t mean people can’t have an allergic reaction to them. To rule this out, always check any new liquid, cream, or oil that you plan to apply to the skin of your child by doing a patch test.
For three to five days, apply a small amount of the diluted oil on the skin at the fold or your child’s elbow. Watch out for any redness, itching or swelling. If there is no reaction on the area after the fifth day, then that’s a very good sign.
How To Use Essential Oils to Help Your Toddler Sleep
A quick note about quantities: In a single teaspoon, there are around 100 drops of essential oils. You have three teaspoons in a tablespoon or 300 drops of essential oils. Finally, there are two tablespoons in an ounce or roughly 600 drops of essential oils. When using essential oils we talk about drops – don’t go overboard!
Now we’ll suggest a few easy ways to apply these drops or get them close to your kids so that they feel their effects.
#1: Bedtime Massage (Try Our 4-Step Process)
Using essential oils topically to promote rest and relaxation is slightly tricky because you’ll need to get your toddler to lie still and let you apply the oils. It can be done though; it just takes patience.
If you do plan to put these oils directly on your toddler’s skin, make sure that you’re using therapeutic-grade oils. These oils have been diluted enough so that they’re safe to use on directly on the skin. This is very important because normal essential oils are extremely strong, and they can cause irritation.
You can keep the same oil for each step, or you can use a mix of two of three. Just remember that each of these oils will have strong scents, and they may not blend well.
- Start out your bedtime essential oil massage routine by massaging a few drops of therapeutic-grade or diluted lavender onto the soles of your toddler’s feet. Once it’s massaged in, you can move to the next step.
- Take a few more drops and massage onto your toddler’s heart area so that they can get the scent all night.
- Next, massage a few drops behind your toddler’s ears and a few onto the crown of their heads. This will help to disperse the essential oils.
- Once you get the drops massaged into your toddler’s skin, they’re ready to read a book or get ready for bed.
The essential oils shouldn’t be overpowering, and you might want to switch the scents you use up every few nights until you find the one that works best to relax your toddler for bed.
Essential Oil Dilution Level Guidelines
#2: In the Bathtub
If you give your toddlers a bath before bedtime to calm them down and relax them, you can add a few drops of essential oils to their bathwater. The water in the bathtub will not dilute the essential oils, so it’s important to dilute them first in a carrier oil or buy therapeutic-grade essential oils.
Mixing your oils in a small amount of shampoo and mixing into the bathwater is good. The fragrance will fill the room. Combine this with a warm bath, and you have a recipe for relaxation and sleep.
Another easy and popular method of dispersing essential oils into the surrounding room is by using an essential oil diffuser. The diffuser will turn the essential oils into vapor, and this vapor will disperse around the room. You do want to ensure that you don’t put too much essential oil into the diffuser as this can lead to an overpowering scent.
Many diffusers have automatic shutoff times or switches where you can shut them on and off easily. You don’t want to use your diffuser all night long or even every night. The more you expose your toddler to a specific essential oil, the more their body will adapt to it. This can lead it the essential oil losing its effectiveness, or a very high concentration in a single room.
One of the easiest ways to get your toddlers to relax and sleep with essential oils is by having them inhale it. This is also one of the gentlest ways to do it because your toddler doesn’t have to do anything special. Start by putting a few drops of one of the essential oils listed above on a cotton ball and placing that cotton ball next to your toddler’s pillow.
The oil will gradually start to evaporate and linger around the area. Your toddler will inhale the scent as they go to sleep and it should also help them to stay asleep. You do want to use a fresh cotton ball every two or three days for the best results. Also, if your toddler doesn’t seem to be responding to the first essential oil, switch it out and try another one.
We love essential oils and they fit naturally into our ‘make every day a spa day’ philosophy. Some can invigorate and recharge, but others help us unwind. It’s this last element that makes them so useful for parents with toddlers – because we all know that when the kids sleep, so can everyone else in the home!
For the price of a small bottle of oil, it’s certainly worth trying. Good luck, and sweet dreams!
Author: Mary Lou
In the Before Times, Maru spent vacations traveling and making stops at showrooms to test the latest massage chair models. Nowadays, she’s hunkered down in her small sunlit home dotted with her ever-growing collection of fiddle fig trees, indoor plants, and Himalayan salt lamps. Find her at LinkedIn.