Should I use oil to massage my baby?
Using oil can make massage easier for you and more relaxing for your baby
Everyone seems to have an opinion on which oil is best for baby massage. Some parents favor baby mineral oils, while others choose particular vegetable oil. Some oils are thought to be more easily absorbed into the skin. You may find massage easier with oil that soaks in. Or you may prefer one that stays more slippery on your baby's skin.
Your decision about what to use also depends on your baby's skin. If your baby has eczema, it is better to use her medical emollient cream or ointment.
There are some oils or creams that it's best not to use, whether or not your baby has eczema. These are:
- Mustard oil, because it has a toxic effect. On the skin barrier, causing irritation and potential damage to delicate baby skin.
- Unrefined peanut oil, because the proteins it contains may sensitise. Your baby to an allergic reaction to peanuts or cause a reaction on your baby's skin. It's also best not to use refined peanut oil.
- Aqueous cream, because it contains a harsh detergent called sodium lauryl sulfate. That may irritate your baby's skin and damage her skin barrier.
What if my baby has sensitive skin?
Vegetable oils that are high in linoleic acid may be gentler on your baby's skin. Linoleic acid is an essential fatty acid that helps to protect the barrier element of your baby's skin. Vegetable oils that usually contain high levels of linoleic acid include:
- sunflower oil
- grapeseed oil
If your baby has dry or broken skin or atopic eczema, avoid vegetable oils. That is higher in another type of fatty acid called oleic acid. Vegetable oils high in oleic acid may be harsher. On your baby's skin than vegetable oils are rich in linoleic acid or baby mineral oils.
Olive oil is high in oleic acid. One study on adults found that, compared with sunflower seed oil. Using olive oil on the skin damaged the skin barrier. It caused mild redness even when there was no history of sensitive skin.
Oleic acid can make some layers of your baby's skin more permeable. This permeability could help oil and water to be absorbed into your baby's skin. But it could also mean that oil and water are lost, rather than trapped in. So if your baby's skin is already dry and tender, then oleic acid could increase moisture loss from it. Which causes dry skin.
Research into olive oil and the effects on babies with and without eczema is currently happening. The findings should help us to have clearer answers to the questions about olive oil. And its effects on babies' skin.
Vegetable oils that usually contain high proportions of oleic acid include:
- olive oil
- high-oleic sunflower seed oil
Labels on vegetable oils don't tend to list the oleic or linoleic acid content. They do list the proportions of polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats, though. As a general guide:
- vegetable oils that are higher in linoleic acid are higher in polyunsaturated fats
- vegetable oils that are higher in oleic acid are higher in monounsaturated fats
Use oil that is high in polyunsaturated fats, if you are concerned. However, some vegetable oils have both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, so it is not always clear.
Perfume-free baby mineral oils are another option. If your baby has dry or broken skin. the oil is derived from petroleum. Petroleum-based skin softeners (emollients) are effective and safe for treating skin problems such as dermatitis and eczema. If your baby has eczema, you should only use her medical moisturizer for massage.
Mineral oils work particularly well for baby massage. If you give your baby a bath and then massage her with the oil while her skin is still damp.
Whichever oil you choose, read the label and store it carefully. Mineral oils may have a use-by date, whereas vegetable oils may have a best-before date. This refers to their use for cooking rather than skincare. But may give you some idea of how long they keep for.
Buying a small bottle of vegetable oil specifically for baby massage may be better than buying a large bottle. Or you could buy a large bottle for cooking and decant. A small amount into a clean bottle to use for baby massage.
If you use emollient to massage your baby, it's best that you use a pump dispenser. Or decant the amount of emollient you need into a small dish with a spoon or spatula. This is more hygienic than scooping out the emollient with your fingers, which may, over time, contaminate the emollient.
Are you worried about your baby’s skin during winters and looking for the best baby oils for winter massage?
Have you considered massaging your little one during winters?
Do you know which oils are best for winter massaging?
Here is a comprehensive guide to help you pick the right oil to massage your baby during the winter months. Although, a baby’s skin is naturally softer, smoother, and healthier than any adult’s; it demands good and appropriate care in every season.
Winters are chilly and exposure to the sun is limited. This makes your baby’s skin dry and flaky. To keep its natural softness undamaged, a warm oil massage is a good idea. Massage helps lock in the skin’s moisture and keeps it healthy, nourished, and supple.
As if being a baby didn't seem chill enough already, there's now. A whole host of products is readily available for your little one to enjoy a relaxing massage too.
Baby massaging techniques have been around for centuries. But in recent years became popular again, thanks to online classes, tutorials, and celebrity endorsements.
Not only is baby massage great to get little ones into a regular winding down routine. But it's also beneficial for a number of digestive and sensitive skin disorders. It's also a lovely way to bond with your baby. A few extra minutes every evening before the whole house starts to unwind.