Sleep & Lavender (and a lavender play dough recipe)

Lavender is one of the best known and widely used essential oils. It’s not hard to see why. From a calm, soothing sleep inducing lullaby to a powerhouse punch of an anti inflammatory, it is a potent, versatile, hardworking little oil. Why is Lavender, this wonderful nostalgic heady scent that transports you back to a childhood spent in your granny’s garden, so popular?

As mentioned in a previous post, aromatherapy is one of the therapies we are pursuing with Neiva. Lavender has been particularly helpful when it comes to sleep issues.

One of our main concerns has been finding a way to help Neiva to have a full, quality, good nights sleep. Sleep issues are not uncommon in children, particularly under the age of 7 and especially in children on the spectrum.

Why is Lavender known best for its sleep inducing properties? Lavender oil is made up of compounds that are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. Scientific studies have shown that these have a sedative and pain relieving effect. Studies have also shown that Lavender also lowers the heart rate and reduces anxiety.

Lavender is also non-irritant and non-toxic which makes it perfectly safe to use with children. Here are some easy ways you can introduce lavender into a bedtime routine:

  • A few drops of oil into a warm bath
  • Diffusing into an oil burner and letting the scent infuse the air (the scent will also be a reminder that it’s winding down time, great for a child like Neiva who thrives on routine)
  • One or two drops directly on to a pillow (take care with this as too much will have the reverse effect).

Another fun idea (and great way to get children away from electronics near to bedtime) is to make Lavender Play Dough. The recipe we used was from The Imagination Tree which is a great resource generally for play ideas and a website Ive used regularly since Neiva was a toddler. I also love the no cook method for making this play dough. It makes the whole process easier. The only change I made was to not use purple food colouring as certain E numbers do affect Neiva, but feel free to add it to your version if you would like more pop of colour.

You will need:

  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 2 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1-1.5 cups of boiling water
  • A few drops of glycerine (for smoothness and shine)
  • Dried lavender/fresh lavender heads (or a mix of both for texture)


  • Add the flour, salt and cream of tartar into a mixing bowl and stir well
  • Stir in the oil and glycerine
  • Add the boiling water stirring vigorously until a dough forms
  • Knead until it stops being sticky
  • Add 2 drops of lavender essential oil (optional) or purple colouring at this kneading stage
  • Leave to cool completely
  • Finally, add dried/fresh lavender

We have quite a few varieties of Lavender growing in our garden. It’s a real hardy beautiful little plant and makes a wonderful addition to any garden. It’s a great sensory aid too, Neiva loves rubbing the flowers in her fingers and smelling the beautiful scent. I hope, when she is older, that smell will transport her right back to her childhood, full of memories of where she spent many wonderful hours in the garden with Enid – her happy place.


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