Baby Massage Oils – What’s best to use
The topic of massage oils is one that comes up time and time again and rightly so! Your babies skin is so delicate and fragile that you should be asking these questions! So here’s some information that will help you to make an informed decision about the oils you use and what you put on your little ones skin.
There are many oils available on the market catered for baby massage and whilst Beautiful New Beginnings does not advocate any particular massage oil in particular, we will give you the information from leading studies and the science behind certain oils.
For many years olive oil has been used for massage and recommended by instructors. However, recent research in 2009 found that Olive Oil is particularly high in oleic acid. Oleic acid, with prolonged use, can cause the skin barrier to break down and essentially your babies skin to become more permeable. As such, prolonged use of olive oil for baby or infant massage is not recommended.
For the same reason, sunflower oil is also not recommended as it once was. Again, high levels of oleic acid found in the oil can damage the skin with prolonged use which can be especially damaging for those babies with dermatological issues or family history of eczema, dermatitis and other such conditions.
So what oils are suitable then?
It is always recommended to use an edible oil where possible as these oils are more easily digestible, more easily absorbed by the skin. When using synthetic oils, the particles in the oil are often too big to ever be absorbed into your babies skin. It will sit on top of the skin, forming a filmy layer on the skin. Edible oils are not only easily absorbed into your babies skin, but they are also more easily digested should your baby put their hands into their mouth.
In this sense then, edible oils are more widely recommended by instructors, and those low in oleic acid and high in linoleic acid. Alongside this, organic oils are better for babies skin, as no herbicides, pesticides or other chemicals have been used during growth and production. Moreover, cold pressed oils are also highly recommended.
Cold pressed oils typically retain more nutrients than oils which have been extracted through heating. This means your babies skin will benefit from the natural minerals and compounds found within the oil.
Many people ask about the benefit of coconut oil and again, whilst there are no right or wrong answers on the use of coconut oil, it must be remembered that the coconut is a complex character! It is a seed, a fruit and a nut! A seed because it is the reproductive part of the tree, a fruit, because it is a fibrous one-seeded drupe, and a nut, because a nut is nothing but a one seeded fruit! Coconut oil is also highly scented, one of the key benefits of massage is that babies can connect with a parent or caregivers natural smell first and foremost. Should you want to use coconut oil, fractionated oil is unscented and may be a better option.
That being said, it is important whatever oil you choose to use to patch test the oil first. Patch testing involves rubbing a small amount of your chosen oil onto the inside of your little ones arm 5-10 minutes before the massage begins. When we patch test, it is important to complete this before every massage due to the changeable nature of your babies skin. A patch test should confirm a no reaction is present. We are looking for anything that becomes red, raised and bumpy. Anything that looks like hives, or small red raised lumps on babies skin indicates a possible reaction and that the oil should not be used.
Other possible options of oil include avocado oil, apricot oil, rapeseed oil or corn oil, all of which are widely available in health food shops or online. Many may also be available in bigger supermarkets and a little will go a long way!
Should your baby struggle with eczema, it is absolutely fine to massage with double base and other emollient style moisturisers recommended by health care professionals. Indeed, this can become a lovely time for a short massage during the day which incorporates both medical need and bonding.
In short, whatever oil you choose to massage with is your choice. Feel free to do your own research and find an oil that suits your little one. Should you not want to use any oils at all, that too is fine, the oil will help your hands glide more fluidly over your babies body, but it is not essential and should you not choose to use it, massage can still be completed really effectively and strong bonds and communication between parent and child formed.
Please do feel free to join or free massage class on Wednesdays at 10am with your little one. You’ll find the links advertised in our free facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/onlinebabyfun/announcements
You would be so very welcome!