How-I-Used-Essential-Oils-to-Get-My-Toddler-to-SleepThere’s nothing that can really prepare you for the sleep deprivation that comes with being a new parent. You can prepare yourself as much as possible by reading books and asking around, but until your baby is home and you experience first hand the delirium that comes from lack of sleep, you’ll never understand just how desperate you’ll become to get some sleep. We were lucky with our first two children, who were quick to fall into a great sleep routine as babies, and now as older children fall asleep and stay asleep with limited, to zero hesitation. But the sleep gods did not smile down on us for our third child, and as he left babyhood and entered toddler-hood with continued night wakings, we became willing to try just about anything to get him to sleep, which is how and why we turned to oils. But first, a little back story. IMG_0183

Hayden, for all of his wonderfully amazing qualities (and he does have a lot of them), has been nothing short of a terrible sleeper since day one. Actually, back up, he’s a terrible sleeper unless he’s cuddled up with another human. I remember vividly bringing him in to bed to cuddle with me, just a few short days after we brought him home, delirious with exhaustion. Within seconds I kid you not, he sweetly, soundly passed off to sleep. I quickly began to realize that this child, unlike our other two, would be the perfect candidate for co-sleeping. But we knew that was not the road we wanted to head down. After successfully getting the first two on pretty strict sleep routines from a very early age, following all the The Baby Whisperer techniques to the letter, I knew that I wanted some semblance of a routine for all our sanity, but I also knew it couldn’t be as strict, with two older kids in the house with schedules and activities galore. I also knew that as my last baby, I wanted to cuddle more and cherish those early months without the constant stress and pressure of sleep training, but even still, co-sleeping as a consistent philosophy and way of life, was just not for us.

So we got him on a flexible schedule early on, and being the easy-going baby that he was, he learned to self-soothe and put himself to sleep all on his own, which many sleep experts and doctors are sure is the best way to get babies to sleep through the night; if they can self-soothe and put themselves to sleep from the get-go, they’re more likely to put themselves back to sleep when they inevitably wake up in the middle of the night. Makes a lot of sense, right? But as we quickly found out with baby #3, that way of thinking doesn’t always work.

Hayden would go to sleep like a charm, but would consistently wake up multiple times through the night and would not be able to self-soothe himself back to sleep. I tried various techniques I had used before; adjusting the bed time, adjusting awake time, adjusting nap length and frequency, adjusting his feeding schedule, cluster feeding, and using the pick-up/put-down method from the The Baby Whisperer books. In all theory, this baby was getting the perfect amount of day sleep, could put himself to sleep, ate like a champ, including solids, so hunger wasn’t an issue, and fell asleep peacefully each night. But he would just not stay asleep. He didn’t sleep through the night until he was almost 1 year old, and even at that, it was a fluke. Somewhat consistent sleep didn’t occur until well into the 18 month mark.IMG_0151

As we entered the toddler years, and now at 2.5 years old, Hayden was still waking up once or twice a night, every 3-4 days. It was almost like he was playing with us, giving us just enough sleep filled nights so that we could fill up our tanks, only to go back to his old habits for a couple of days, and the cycle went on and on. As he got older, his night wakings would occur routinely between 11pm-2am, and he’d always want the same thing; to sleep with one of us. Having transitioned into a regular twin bed now, he had slept great for several days and seemed genuinely excited about his new big boy bed. But the novelty quickly wore off, and in the past couple of months, we’d deal with intense screaming sessions where he’d cry over and over again, “Tay Tay’s bed!” or “Bubba’s bed!” or “Mommy’s bed!” Bottom line, he just wanted to sleep with a warm body. After dealing with night wakings for so long, we sort of welcomed this easy fix, and quickly got in the habit of letting him sleep with one of us, usually the kids.

We had to put a stop to it though after he kept Taylor up half the night, throwing stuffed animals at her head and dancing in her bed. The poor girl was so exhausted the next day for school, that I knew we had to change and this couldn’t go on.

So how did I land on essential oils? Well, I had tried pretty much everything else, and so I figured, why not? I will say that I’m a natural skeptic and do think that some of the oil claims out there sound a bit far fetched, but I’ve also experienced relief from a few simple remedies, so I was hopeful that they may work for Hayden’s sleep issues. I had been gifted a nice starter set from my friend Jen and Jodie, and my sister had been making me different essential oil mixes for over a year now. I personally knew a lot of people who had been helped with essential oils, and figured  I didn’t have anything to lose. I did a quick search in the oils Facebook group I belonged to, and came across another woman who had used a similar protocol. I was missing one of the oils she had used, so I just subbed one in that I thought would work, and come to find out, it indeed did work!essential-oils-protocol-for-toddler-sleep

Here’s the oil protocol we used to get our toddler to sleep through the night:

During pajama and story/play time, around 7 pm, I began diffusing a few drops of lavender in his room.

Starting with the feet, I rubbed a couple of drops on the soles of his feet. I then worked my way up.

Joy on his heart.

Peace & Calm behind his ears.

Frankincense on the crown of his head.

Depending on your needs and child’s sensitivities, you can of course dilute the oils before applying, and the smallest amount works well, no need to go overboard.

We used the oils and blends from Young Living, and I purchase from Jodie, who has proven to be a wonderful resource for all my oil questions. She’s put us on an oil protocol for wart removal and a few other things, which I’ll keep you posted on, but it was the private Facebook group, under her leadership, where I learned about this oil protocol, so I’m indebted to her. With that being said though, from what I’ve heard, you can find comparable blends from other brands, so don’t fret if you use a brand other than Young Living. Contact Jodie though if you’d like to order these specific oils, or you have any general questions about oils.

After the first night of using the oils, he slept all the way through. Because he was known to give us a couple of good nights before a string of bad nights, I didn’t yet proclaim this a victory. I told my husband, if he sleeps through for more than 4 nights, I may become a believer.

He continued to sleep for 4, 5, 6, and 7 nights in a row without a waking.essential-oils-protocol-to-get-toddler-to-sleep

After we had been doing the oils for over a week, he did have a waking, but we easily got him back to sleep, in his own bed.

I’ve lost track of how many days we’ve been doing this routine now, but it’s been about 3 weeks. We actually ran out of one of the oils, and a couple of nights last week we didn’t do the routine at all, yet he still slept through the night. The skeptic in me was quick to think it had all been one big coincidental fluke, and the oils had not helped at all. But then I remembered all my knowledge on the subject of sleep, having read about 10 books on the topic, and it seemed more likely that he had just got into a very good pattern and habit of sleeping through the night, and that he may no longer need the oils. Tracy Hogg in her book wrote that it usually only took a baby a week to develop a good sleep routine that would stick.

I also really think the routine of applying the oils; quiet time, massage, and focused attention, helped Hayden sleep well, just as much the oils themselves.

IMG_0168
this is Hayden lifting his shirt up so I can apply Joy to his heart area

With multiple children, and especially older children where there’s a large age gap like we have, it’s easy to fall out of the simple habits like a consistent bedtime routine, and rush through these processes.  Pajamas on, hurry up! Brush teeth, read a book, hurry, hurry, get into bed! The oils routine really helped us all slow down and focus on quiet time with our youngest, who often gets mixed into the crazy shuffle of the big kid’s life of homework, activities, school stuff and overall rushed bed times.

I’ll continue to use the oils as much as possible, since he seems to really enjoy them, and the one-on-one time they bring, but I’m hoping this isn’t a routine that we’ll have to use for years to come haha! Using all these oils every day for an extended period of time adds up, so I’d like to continue use with some discretion.

It makes me both sad and uncomfortable to see the controversy and fighting that essential oils can bring among women. I can honestly say I cringe each time, before I post a picture on Instagram of something having to do with oils. Without fail, someone always has something negative to say, whether it be about a particular brand, business practices or oils in general. I honestly don’t get it and I think it’s all really strange.

I believe and trust in individuals over brands, and with that, I’ve come to use both doTerra and Young Living. People in my life whom I trust and love have introduced me to both brands, and I have had success with different things from both lines. I’ve stayed out of the brand wars, and am just happy products from both brands have provided relief and comfort to people I care about. That’s what should matter most of all.

So whichever brand of oil you trust, for whatever reason, I hope this little oil protocol can help some of you out there. Sleep, or lack of it, is one of the worst things we can experience. It wreaks havoc on our mental and physical health, causing a whole host of problems from sadness and depression to recurrent illness due to low immune suppression. We need rest as much as we need water and air, and so with that being said, all you tired moms and dads out there, hang in there and good luck to you! I don’t make any claims that this oil protocol will work as well for you, or at all, as it did for us, but I sure hope you see some success from it!

Please let me know if you have any questions at all!

  • I know what you mean about the negativity and comments that come when you share something about oils. Its really too bad, when you find something that really works for you and your family, that people have to turn it into that. I respect anyone who tries essential oils, no matter the brand, because its so great to see people turning to a more natural method. Thanks for sharing your story, its great to see the success you have had with this routine!

    • Andrea Howe

      Yeah, it’s a total bummer. Some have suggested I just don’t even mention them at all, but I hate not sharing something positive that may help someone else out.I just have to shut out the negative feedback and focus on the positive, I guess 😉

  • Shelby

    Awesome, wonderful, great post!! I don’t have any toddlers with sleep problems but sometimes do have some anxiety at night so I might try this protocol. I absolutely love the end of your post about the “brand wars.” It’s so dramatic and stems from the fact that everyone is trying to do what’s best for their family. We are all doing our best! Thanks for your post!

    • Andrea Howe

      No problem Shelby, glad you enjoyed the post, and please let me know if you try this out and if it provides relief or not. i know lots of adults who love lavender for sleep issues.

  • Kalynn

    I have a horrible sleeper waking 8-12 times a night from 4 months on, getting no more than 45 minutes of sleep at a time and maybe 2 or 3 15 minutes naps a day. We tried the chiropractor, multiple training books, everything short of just letting him cry it out. Adding oils to our bedtime routine around 9 months is what finally helped! I tried lots of different oils most of which had the opposite affect on my son and actually stimulated him. What we finally landed on was Roman chamomile. It’s been a game changer in our house! he literally relaxes as soon as he can smell it. It wasn’t like he started sleeping through the night right away, but it got him longer and better periods of sleep that Eventually led to him only getting up 2-3 times a night maybe 5 minutes each time and much longer naps during the day. Also it’s he best teething remedy I’ve found for him too! I don’t use it nightly anymore just when he can’t seem to relax on his own.

    • Andrea Howe

      oh wow, I’ve never heard of Roman chamomile but sounds like you’ve found your magic bullet! I’ll keep that in mind if anyone needs further suggestions. Thanks for sharing your success story and glad you’re finally getting some rest!

  • angie

    this is the third such post i have read/seen around the internet lately about using oils to get kids to sleep and i think it’s a sign for me to try it on my 4-year old!! a couple of questions: do you leave the diffuser on all night? and just a couple of drops of each of the oils on his body? i am so excited to try this- thank you for your article! and thank you for all of your great work on GMMDI, i always look forward to your posts!

    • Andrea Howe

      Hi Angie, thanks for the comment and your kind words. I just diffuse for about an hour at night, during the bedtime routine, and then turn it of when it’s time for bed. I apply just place a couple of drops in my palms, rub them together and then apply to his skin. With these oils, they have proved gentle enough to be safe for applying “neat” without the use of a carrier oil, however, every child is different so perhaps test it first or to be safe, use a carrier oil. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for your babe getting a bad reaction 🙂 HTH

  • how long do you leave the diffuser on at night?

    • Andrea Howe

      Hi Wendy, we just leave it on for about an hour during the bedtime routine, and then turn it off when it’s time to go to bed. HTH

  • Pam

    Thank you for this post! We have a 12 month old that has never slept through the night. I have tried cedar wood upon suggestion but it didn’t seem to help. Trying your protocol for the first time tonight. *Fingers crossed!*

  • Monica Faram

    Thank you so much for this blog! I’ve been struggling with my 2-year-old and sleeping so bad lately. With my 4-year-old we did Cedarwood, Vetiver and Lavender. That doesn’t work with the younger one. Definitely going to try this routine!!

  • Emily Gonzalez

    Thank you so much for your post. I have twin boys who are 2 and a half, and it is insane trying to get them to sleep on their own. They used to be such good sleepers when they were babies but once they discovered the freedom of a big bed, they are all over the place with sleeping schedules. For the most part though, if they are in our bed they sleep just fine. I’m going to try this routine to see if I can keep them in their own beds. One question, did your little one fight going to bed on their own before the oils, and does he still do it now? Ours won’t even stay laying down in their bed if we leave the room while they are awake and then proceed to cry and bang on the door lol. Other than the oils, what does your bedtime routine look like for getting him to stay in bed? I also have a 6 year old who would greatly appreciate the twins being on a set bedtime routine lol. Thank you again!!!!