Wondering How to Choose the Best Baby Massage Oil? Check out our complete guide to learn about different kinds of massage oils along with baby massage tips.
In many places in India, as soon as a woman’s pregnancy crosses the 3-month mark, bookings are made – not for the hospital, but for the maalishwaali! That’s how much in demand baby massage experts are, especially since they are fewer in number nowadays.
The demand isn’t for the maalishwaali actually, but more for the maalish, or massage, services she provides. Baby massage is something that’s been done from centuries and it’s still immensely popular. These benefits probably have something to do with this popularity.
Benefits of Baby Massage
- Touch is the baby’s most developed sense right from birth, so a massage is a great way to stimulate the baby
- A proper massage stimulates proper functioning of all body systems
- Massaging the arms and legs improves blood circulation to the extremities
- Just like for adults, massages relax babies, making them less anxious and fussy
- Massage can soothe colic in some babies
- A good massage can help babies sleep better
- Premature babies in particular, benefit from massage with better sleep and feeding patterns, and weight gain
- When done by the mother or father, it promotes bonding between parent and child
Now we know that massage has several benefits for the baby, so the next question is regarding the massage oil. A baby’s skin is much more delicate than adult skin, which means that the oil to be used requires a lot of thought. It should be safe and gentle, while also providing baby with all its benefits. It is recommended to avoid using any oil till the baby is at least 4-6 weeks old. Once your baby has crossed the 8 weeks mark, you can go ahead and use a massage oil. Here is a complete guide to help you choose the best baby massage oil for your little one.
How to Choose the Best Baby Massage Oil
Coconut oil is one of the most popular oils used throughout India – and the rest of the world! It’s easily available, economical and packed with health benefits. Coconut oil contains antioxidants, lauric acid and caprylic acid, making it a very skin-friendly oil. Besides, it also contains anti bacterial and anti fungal properties, ensuring baby’s skin stays safe from infections.
Coconut oil is light and perfect for summer, as it is easily absorbed and doesn’t clog the pores. It is also the ideal choice for babies with sensitive skin or conditions like eczema, rashes or dermatitis. Coconut oil can also help with common problems like cradle cap and diaper rash. Opt for extra virgin coconut oil for the best benefits.
Sesame oil is another popular option among Indian Moms. Made from sesame seeds, sesame oil is used in many Ayurvedic preparations. It’s anti bacterial and anti inflammatory properties help keep baby skin safe, and its light nature makes it a good choice for summer.
Sesame oil penetrates the skin, nourishing it from within. The Vitamins B, D and E helps heal rashes on delicate baby skin while also providing the requisite moisturization.
Being increasingly available in many variants these days, olive oil is getting to be just as popular as coconut oil for baby massage. With loads of antioxidants and healthy fats, this oil helps to nourish baby skin, and works for all seasons. The pleasant fragrance also makes it more attractive as a massage oil.
Some Moms find that massing the baby’s stomach with olive oil helps relieve issues like colic, constipation and gassiness. However, olive oil is not recommended for babies with sensitive skin or extremely dry skin. It is also not advised for babies with conditions like skin rashes or eczema, as it can aggravate the condition.
Almond oil is another all-weather massage oil that also has a lovely aroma. Rich in Vitamin E, it’s perfect for keeping baby skin soft and smooth. Many baby massage experts also make their own massage oils using almond oil as the main ingredient.
Almond oil also has lots of benefits for the baby’s hair, and you can continue to use it for your child as she grows. Opt for pure almond oil since there are lots of adulterated versions in the market. Extremely fragrant oils are likely infused with chemical fragrances, so do your research before buying.
Sunflower oil may be synonymous with cooking, but it is also a common choice for baby massage. With Vitamin E and fatty acids, sunflower oil is a good choice for massage, provided you use the unadulterated, pure version that is formulated specifically for babies.
In some babies, sunflower oil can cause extra dry skin or in more severe cases, eczema. If your baby has a predisposition for sensitive or rash-prone skin, it’s best to avoid sunflower oil for massage.
Castor oil is excellent for hair growth and is a great massage oil for baby’s hair. Besides, it also works as a good moisturizer for babies with dry skin. Castor oil applied on the nails can also help strengthen them.
Warm castor oil massaged on baby’s tummy can also soothe colic. This oil also works to relieve sunburn, which isn’t exactly common in infants, but can be used on older kids. It’s important to make sure that it doesn’t get ingested as it is toxic for consumption. If your baby is in the habit of licking his hands and fingers, you may have to avoid castor oil.
Mustard oil is a popular massage oil in winters, especially in North India, since it has a warming effect. However, it isn’t suitable for babies with eczema, rashes or dry skin. There are some studies that show that mustard oil can irritate delicate baby skin, which is why it is often recommended to use mustard oil along with another carrier oil.
Mustard oil is often heated with garlic, fenugreek seeds and carom seeds and then strained and cooled before massaging the baby. This helps to get rid of the pungent odor to some extend. Some Moms also find that massaging with mustard oil helps relieve symptoms of cough and cold especially during winter.
Mineral oil is an emollient, which means it is a petroleum-based product. This makes many Moms avoid mineral oils, but they can be effective in certain cases like treating eczema or dermatitis. Mineral oils also help protect premature babies’ skin, which is more vulnerable than other babies.
Mineral oil works well as an after-bath oil, since it helps keep the moisture on the skin, preventing dryness. However, it is important to opt for perfume-free variants, and ensure that there are no harmful chemicals in the formulation.
Essential oils have many benefits depending upon the type of oil, but they are too strong for young babies. It is recommended to use essential oils for children over two years, and even then they should be used diluted with a carrier oil. Essential oils can overload a newborn’s delicate senses and may also create a hormonal imbalance.
Here are a few DIY baby massage oils you can try making at home, for babies over 6 months:
- Sweet Dreams Massage Oil from The Art of Simple
- DIY Bedtime Massage Oil from Growing Up Herbal
- Infused Baby Massage Oil from Wikihow
- DIY Baby Massage Oil from Bowl of Herbs (skip the chilli)
Safe and Natural Massage Oils for Babies in India
Whatever oil you choose, always remember to go for organic, cold-pressed oils with minimum processing and no additives. Opt for food grade oils so that it’s safe if the baby licks it.
Baby Massage Tips for Parents
1. Always ensure that the baby is in a good mood before beginning the massage; don’t massage the baby against his will. Avoid massaging if the baby is not well.
2. Skip the massage for 72 hours after receiving a vaccination so the body has time to recover.
3. It’s best to time the massage before the baby’s nap time so he doesn’t fall asleep during the massage.
4. Buy small quantities of massage oil so they don’t spoil easily.
5. If making your own oil at home, avoid spices that can burn, like pepper or chillies.
6. Always do a patch test on the baby’s hand before going for the massage.
7. A pump dispenser works best to get just the amount of oil you need and avoid wastage. If you’re using a large container, use a spoon to scoop it out rather than your bare hands, to avoid contamination.
8. Always massage babies on a towel on the floor, to avoid the risk of falls.
9. Choose a quite spot of the home, and make sure there are no cold winds.
10. The person doing the massage should have clean hands with short nails. Turn off the phone and take off any jewelry like rings and bracelets.
11. Keep everything ready before starting the massage – oil, towels, extra clothes and diaper change supplies.
12. Check the temperature of the oil before starting the massage. Massage with soft strokes; avoid too much pressure.
13. Make sure no oil gets into the baby’s eyes, ears, nose or navel, as this can lead to infections.
14. Handle the baby carefully after the massage, as she’ll be slippery with oil. Use a large thick towel and hold the baby firmly with both hands.
If you’ve hired someone else to do baby’s massage, make sure they follow these tips. Be careful of homemade oils they bring – they may contain herbs and spices that are not safe for baby. It’s best to keep things simple with a plain oil and enjoy this lovely time with your little one.