Choosing The Right Massage Oil

Choosing The Right Massage Oil

June 7, 2013 9:51 am 13,449 comments

hYou can multiply the benefits of baby massage by choosing the right oil.  Learn how to select the most nutrient rich option for a healthy baby massage and what oils not to use to avoid clogged pores and other skin irritations.

In this article

  • Why Use Oil in Baby Massage?
  • Unscented Oil Is Best in Baby Massage
  • Oils To Avoid in Infant Massage
  • Safe Oils for Babies
  • Always Conduct a Skin Patch Test

Long before babies are able to speak or see distinctly, they interact with the world around them through touch and smell. The healing and soothing power of your touch is so profound it can reduce your baby’s level of stress hormones, and improve his immunity, digestion and circulation. [benefits of baby massage (link to article titled Baby Massage:  The Remarkable Power of Your Touch)]. Baby massage also supports parent-child bonding, so you naturally grow closer with each session of loving touch. Equally important, you can amplify the health benefits of baby massage by choosing the right type of oil.

 Why Use Oil in Baby Massage?

Oil makes it easy for your hands to move smoothly over your baby’s body, allowing you to make long, moderately firm, continuous strokes without causing friction or discomfort.  Oil also moisturizes the skin and provides essential nutrients through the skin to fortify your baby’s health.  Research on hospitalized babies indicates better results with oil versus a dry baby massage. Oil is also more warming than lotion.

Just be aware that using too much oil on your baby may make your baby slippery. Be sure to remove oil from your own hands, and pick your baby up in a towel until all the oil has been absorbed into his skin.

Unscented Oil Is Best in Baby Massage

Isn’t it amazing to know you have a personal scent that your baby begins to recognize shortly after birth?  Early on, your scent signals safety, love, and connection to your baby. In fact, a baby has fuzzy vision at birth. So, the olfactory sense is a far more important channel for establishing his sense of security than sight. The use of strong smelling oil or a product that contains fragrance or “parfum” will obstruct this process of natural recognition and deeper bonding through the sense of smell.

In addition, strong, synthetic scents can confuse a baby’s brain and interrupt the way he experiences and learns in the world as discussed in the next section.

Oils To Avoid in Infant Massage

Some oils are definitely not optimal for a baby’s skin.  Avoid the following oils and ingredients:

Mineral Oil – Mineral oil clogs pores, traps bacteria and can promote skin infections.  Additionally, it doesn’t contain essential nutrients that will enhance your baby’s health.  Mineral oil is a petroleum-based product and, in our view, its use is not beneficial for the environment.  By avoiding petroleum-based products, you are moving us toward a new Vivid Green Generation.  Your choices make a difference and serve as a role model to your children.

Essential Oils – Did you know that most essential oils are synthetically produced from petroleum-based ingredients? Synthetic scents can be overwhelming to your baby’s brain, especially for newborns, and disrupt the way he learns and experiences the world.  Essential oils can even be harmful if not used properly, because a young baby’s nervous system is not yet fully developed.

Fragrance or Parfum – Products that contain fragrance or “parfum” are contraindicated for babies.  These are mixtures of up to 4,000 chemicals that are not specifically identified on packaging.  When you use products that contain fragrance, you will never know exactly what you’re applying to your baby’s skin.  Babytime! Products never contain fragrance.

Nut or Seed Oils – These are fine for most babies, but use caution if your baby has any sign of being allergic to nuts or seeds.

Rancid Oil – Check the expiration date on the bottle and store oils carefully in a cool, dark place. You may want to buy a small bottle of oil for baby massage rather than a larger bottle that may spoil.

Oleic Acid – If your baby already has sensitive or dry skin or eczema, avoid the exclusive use of oils that are high in “Oleic Acid” like olive oil or high-oleic sunflower oil.  This fatty acid can increase permeability in some skin layers and aggravate already sensitive skin.

Safe Oils for Babies

Use a light, low-odor vegetable or fruit-based oil that is easily absorbed by the skin.  Choose refined, fragrance free, and organic, if possible.  For optimal health, select an oil or product that is nutrient rich, like the Babytime! [Skin to Skin Massage Oil], since babies can absorb the benefits through their skin.

These are some of the commonly used and generally safe oils for baby massage:

  • Sunflower
  • Safflower
  • Coconut
  • Apricot
  • Jojoba
  • Sweet Almond
  • Canola
  • Sesame

Always Conduct a Skin Patch Test

Although the above listed oils are generally safe for babies, every baby is unique and may be subject to allergies or skin reactions even to these oils.  Adverse reactions can include rashes, blotches, red spots, and discoloration.  Always patch test an oil on a small area of skin and wait before using it for a full baby massage.  Here’s how to conduct a simple skin patch test.

  • Place a small amount of oil on the inside of your baby’s wrist or ankle.
  • Stay present and allow up to 30 minutes for a severe reaction to occur.  Wait for a full 24 hours to check for a sensitivity reaction.
  • If any sign of irritation occurs, do not use this particular oil.
  • If there is no irritation after 24 hours, you can proceed with using this oil for your baby’s massage.

The Right Balance of Ingredients

As hinted above, it’s important to have the right balance of essential fatty acids in the oil that you use for baby massage.  An oil or massage product that is too high in oleic acid can cause some layers of your baby’s skin to become more permeable.  This can increase dryness, irritation, and aggravate conditions like eczema.

Babytime! [Skin to Skin Massage Oil] contains a specially designed complex of 3 organic vegetable oils – Coconut, Sunflower, and Cranberry – to specifically provide a balanced complex of oleic and linoleic acids that is nutrient rich with Essential Fatty Acids. This unique blend offers maximum benefits from each of the oils while maintaining the perfect balance for proper skin absorption and glide. These nourishing, organic ingredients work to increase skin moisture, balance skin flora, support the skin’s barrier properties and help reduce inflammation and irritation – enhancing the benefits of Skin to Skin contact.

Sources

J Affect Disord. 2001 Mar;63(1-3):201-7.

Infant massage improves mother-infant interaction for mothers with postnatal depression.

Onozawa K, Glover V, Adams D, Modi N, Kumar RC.

Infant Behav Dev. 2010 April; 33(2): 115–124.

Preterm Infant Massage Therapy Research: A Review

Tiffany Field,1,2 Miguel Diego,1 and Maria Hernandez-Reif3

Pediatr Dermatol. 2013 Jan-Feb;30(1):42-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1470.2012.01865.x. Epub 2012 Sep 20

Infant Behav Dev. 2010 Apr;33(2):115-24. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2009.12.004.

Child Care Health Dev. 2009 Jan;35(1):96-105. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2008.00895.x. Epub 2008 Oct 30.

Indian Pediatr. 2005 Sep;42(9):877-84.

Indian Pediatr. 2005 Oct;42(10):998-1005.

Indian J Med Res. 2000 Dec;112:212-7.

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