Lavender is a flowering plant in the mint family. The name comes from the Latin root lavare, meaning "to wash", because it has been added to baths to help purify the body and spirit since ancient Roman times.
The following are just a few of the potential therapeutic/medicinal uses of lavender based on evidence from human and animal studies:
Slows the activity of the nervous system - decreases anxiety, promotes relaxation/better mood, and improves sleep quality and duration
Analgesia (pain control) - can be helpful for menstrual cramps, joint/muscle pain, post-surgical pain, and headaches
Antibacterial - displays activity against a wide range of bacteria including MRSA and VRE
Antiviral - destroys fungal cells by damaging the cell membrane, including drug-resistant fungi, and shows potential for treating topical fungal infections (like athlete's foot or ringworm). This along with its anti-microbial properties also makes it potentially useful as a healthier cleaning agent to improve indoor air.
Accelerates wound-healing (and possibly eczema) by formation of granulation tissue through collagen synthesis, tissue remodeling with collagen replacement, and wound shrinking (contraction).
Natural insect repellent (moths, flies, and mosquitos)
So how can this be used for kids? First off, oral administration is NEVER recommended in children (this includes pregnant and breastfeeding mothers). Aromatherapy is felt to be safe in babies over 3 months old (diffuser or aromasticks for older children). Topical use is also okay as long as it is DILUTED with a carrier oil like almond oil (and eyes, ears, and nose are avoided). I recommend doing a small test patch 24 hours prior to use. Also, always use high quality 100% pure essential oil and stay away from products with lavender scent.
For the sake of completion, I need to mention that there have been a few (appear to be 11 total in all literature) case reports of gynecomastia (breast bud development in boys) with frequent topical use of lavender combined with tea tree oil in skin care products. In all of these cases there was full resolution of gynecomastia when the products were discontinued.