We recently received this question from a Sleep Salts customer about epsom salts and their safety during a baby’s bath time:
I have an 11 month baby who has trouble sleeping, like many babies, lol.
I was advised to add a bit of Epsom Salt to his bath to help him relax, and I found your “Sleep Salts Lavender Soak” that looks fantastic as Lavender is known for its relaxation effects as well.
Now here is my concern: from time to time my baby tries hard to lick the water… Therefore, is it dangerous if he ingests a little amount of water? As I know essential oils can be dangerous if ingested.
Thanks for letting me know!
Can babies benefit from magnesium?
First of all, this is a great question. Studies show magnesium is effective at treating insomnia in the elderly, however, there’s very little out there about using magnesium sulfate to help children, especially babies. One of the reasons magnesium is so helpful as a sleep aid is because, over time, our diets and lifestyles deplete our bodies of magnesium. Stress is a big culprit, as cortisol drains magnesium, and poor farming practices contribute as well.
When a magnesium-deficient person gets a big dose of magnesium from an epsom salt bath, their body responds with almost instant relaxation. But a baby could be different. Most babies aren’t yet under stress, but then again, they could be suffering from a poor diet that doesn’t offer enough in the way of essential minerals.
A doctor familiar with your child’s health and genetics should have final say here. Since you were “advised” to try epsom salt as a sleep aid for your 11-month-old, presumably that recommendation came from a medical professional, so we may have that covered already.
Can essential oils or other ingredients harm a baby?
If we’ve established that the relaxation benefits of an epsom salt bath could benefit a baby, the concern now shifts to whether the contents of the bath could be dangerous for an infant.
First, we take great pains at Sleep Salts to use all-natural ingredients, including organic essential oil. When I was planning our first formulas with my manufacturer, I was urged to use “natural” oils rather than organic, because they’re far cheaper. I chose not to go this route, because under USDA naming conventions, manufacturers are allowed to use some synthetics in making natural oils. Furthermore, if you really take a look at the ingredients out there in the bath salt market, it’s disappointing what some of the brands are using in their formulas.
If you use a brand you trust, and make sure that the baby isn’t drinking the water, I can’t imagine a few drops here and there would do any harm. I’d be more concerned about the chlorine in the bath water than organic essential oil.
Epsom salt is a laxative
The last thing to keep in mind is that epsom salt is not just a detox agent, and a natural relaxer, it’s also FDA approved as a laxative, so it could have an impact on a baby in that way. If your baby has had a bout of diarrhea for example, epsom salt would not be a good idea.
Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate
Epsom salt isn’t just magnesium, it’s magnesium sulfate. If a baby has sensitivity to sulfur, as is possible with certain mutations of the CBS genes, it is best to avoid epsom salt altogether.
I think the bottom line is as follows:
If you’re considering using a little epsom salt to help your baby relax and sleep, make sure you purchase a brand with organic ingredients you can trust. Talk to your doctor before drawing the bath, and even consider looking into your child’s genotype to determine whether they may be sensitive to sulfur.
When it comes to little ones, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Hope this helps. Feel free to contact us with any additional questions.
—John O’Connor, Sleep Salts founder