Whenever anybody asks me about baby massage, the first thing that comes to my mind is oils. Why should that not be? You need oils to massage your little baby’s body so they can reap off all the goods they can.
Given the number of benefits offered by baby massages, such as nervous and digestive system improvement, better blood circulation and motor skills, and overall growth and development of the baby, you just can’t not do it. Keeping everything in mind, we present to you everything you need to know and answer some frequently asked questions on the subject:
- Which baby massage oil is the best?
- Can we make baby massage oil at home?
- Which oil to use for dry skin baby?
- Baby massage oil for a colicky baby?
Do You Need Oil to Massage Your Baby?
Literally, massage is the action of gentle rubbing, stroking, and pressing of the skin. This means that you don’t really need oil to massage, however, substances like oil and ghee can act as lubricants and therefore reduce the friction, making the procedure smooth.
Further, oil applied while massaging can bring oil-specific advantages to babies, especially with dry skin or during winters.
Which Oil to Use for Baby Massage?
Well, it depends on several factors and therefore varies from one skin type to another. But if we talk generally, natural, edible oils – vegetable or mineral – are considered the best for baby massage; they don’t pose any harm if the baby sucks their fingers or puts their feet into their mouth. (You should also note here that it’s best not to use any oil on damaged or broken skin.)
Plant oils are thought to be more easily digested by the body and are therefore more preferred. So, if you go with vegetable oil, we would suggest more refined versions due to their thin texture and mild smells. Both these characters favor the infant’s comfort. Refined oils also have a longer shelf life, implying that you won’t have to worry about the microorganisms that could inhabit the container and ultimately your younger one’s body!
Mineral oils as well are known for their long shelf lives and are said to be safe for baby massage. They don’t go rancid even in hot summer. Plus, they don’t harm babies either.
If you have added these two categories to your list, let’s narrow down the funnel further.
Best Massage Oils for Dry, Sensitive Skin Babies
Taking care of normal skin isn’t a big deal. But when it comes to babies with dry skin, you can never be too sure!
Although we are suggesting these oils to you, we would still recommend you do a patch test before going all-in with any oil. Apply the oil to a little area and observe it for 24 hours. Ensure that there is no redness or rash.
Vegetable oils high in PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids)
As you already know, polyunsaturated fatty acids are good for health. One of such fatty acids is linoleic acid, which is extremely good for the skin in making a protective skin barrier. It’s also considered to be gentle for sensitive skin. Some vegetable oils rich in PUFA are:
- Pure sunflower seed oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Safflower seed oil
Please note that oils rich in monounsaturated fats may not be good for your little one. These oils are harsh and may not suit the skin of your baby well.
Unscented Mineral Baby Oil
Regular baby oils sold in the market are usually mineral oils. Don’t use scented versions as they may contain unnatural substances or preservatives to keep the oil smelling good. These perfumes may smell good to you but not to the baby, who may also get irritated as the oil remains on their skin for long.
As good as it is, coconut oil is the best friend of our mothers and their mothers. It is a part of Indian culture. We have some research that suggests that it may improve moisture retention in dry skin. Moreover, it is also believed to reduce scars, which may help you if your baby has any scar on their body.
Coconut oil can also help provide relief to a colicky baby – massage the tummy with a little oil and you’re good to go!
It is also considered safe for all skin types. Just ensure that it doesn’t have any impurities or additional chemicals added.
Popular Baby Massage Oils You Could Rather Miss
These oils are generally not suggested for dry and sensitive skin. However, you may still do a patch test on your baby.
Olive oil has a lot of benefits to offer, but when it is included in the diet. For massage, it hasn’t shown much promise.
Although olive oil is loaded with antioxidants, it was found to break the outermost layer of the skin when massaged on adults, clearly suggesting that it could do much worse for little babies. However, if you still want to try it once, please do a patch test before going into a full massage regime. Even then, don’t use pure olive oil, mix it with a carrier oil so you can reap this oil’s benefits without bearing any side-effects.
While ghee is a popular Indian inclusion to almost anything and everything, it may be too thick for your baby’s sensitive skin. Besides, it’s rich in MUFA and is also relatively harder to rub off the skin, and hence stays for long. It may even close the pores present in the skin.
This is another popular massage oil that is followed like a tradition in our country. Mustard oil is also rich in MUFA, which makes it toxic to sensitive skin. It may as well break the outer layer of the skin of your baby.
Baby Massage Before or After Bath?
For dry skin, it’s better to massage after a bath as massage can help skin retain moisture.
For oily – normal skin, massage before the bath so some of the oil is washed off as well.
Can You Make Baby Massage Oil at Home?
You may make your own oil at home provided that you know what ingredients you’re putting in and in what quantities.
You could also mix different oils and use it as one. Many people temper a carrier oil, like coconut oil or mustard with ingredients like garlic, carom, or fenugreek seeds, to allow their individual benefits to be incorporated in the oil. While garlic has anti-inflammatory properties, fenugreek is a cooling agent, and carom seeds are thought to relieve colic babies.
Some Essential Takeaways
First, get into a habit of reading labels. I don’t know if you’ve ever taken care of labels of oil bottles, if you’re buying one to massage your baby, leave no page unturned.
Second, don’t take oil directly from the stock container while you’re performing your daily ritual – take out some in a bowl or dispenser. Not touching the oil repeatedly will ensure that you transfer no pathogen to the oil to grow.
Third, build healthy conversations with your child as you go forward. The baby may not speak as of yet, but they have some excellent stories to tell under the influence of a soothing massage. They carry so much on their shoulders after all!
Happy Massaging, Mommying, and Daddying.