Best massage oils for your baby

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Most mums massage their baby with oil every day either before or after giving them a bath. It's a nice traditional custom to continue because there’s evidence that massage can benefit both you and your baby. And using an oil can make massage both easier for you and more relaxing for your baby.

Which massage oil is safe for my baby?

You can use either a vegetable oil or a mineral baby oil to massage your baby. Unless your baby has a rash, or particularly dry or sensitive skin, there's no strong evidence to suggest that one type of oil is much better than another. Some oils appear to be more easily absorbed by the skin, but the research seems to find that there’s not a lot of difference between them.

Some experts favour vegetable or plant-based oils that absorb quickly. They are easy to digest if your baby sucks his oil-smeared fingers. If you're using a vegetable oil, pure, refined oils are best suited to your baby's delicate skin. Refined oils have a milder smell, thin texture, longer shelf life and less chances of containing impurities such as yeasts, moulds, or fungal spores. 

Mineral baby oils are another good option. They are derived from petroleum and have a long record of safe use. They are not harmful if your baby sucks on her fingers and are unlikely to go rancid even in hot, humid climate.

Which massage oil should I use if my baby has dry or sensitive skin?

The following oils are all thought to be good choices for massaging dry, sensitive skin:

Vegetable oils that are high in polyunsaturated fats
These are oils that are high in a substance called linoleic acid. Linoleic acid is a fatty acid that may help to protect the skin barrier and is thought to be gentle on your baby’s sensitive skin. 

Vegetable oils that usually contain high levels of linoleic acid include:

·         pure refined sunflower seed oil

·         grapeseed oil

·         safflower seed oil

Not all vegetable oils are high in linoleic acid. Some are high in oleic acid, which is a monounsaturated fat. Vegetable oils high in oleic acid are harsher on your baby's skin than vegetable oils rich in linoleic acid or baby mineral oils. 

However, labels on vegetable oils don't usually 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.

Unperfumed mineral oil (baby oil)
Unscented (perfume free) baby mineral oils are another good option to use on dry or sensitive skin. It’s best to avoid perfumed products though if your baby has already damaged or dry skin.

Coconut oil
Coconut oil is another oil that is widely available and used in India. Some research suggests that it may help to improve the moisture and appearance of dry skin.

Which oils are not good for my baby's skin?

If your baby has dry, sensitive skin, eczema or broken skin, it is best not to use either mustard oil (sarson ka tel), clarified butter (ghee) or olive oil (jaitoon ka tel) to massage your baby. 

Olive oil, ghee and mustard oil are high in oleic acid. Oleic acid can make some layers of your baby's skin more permeable. This means that applying oils containing oleic acid could make your baby's skin even more dry and tender

However, more research is needed to be sure about the use of oil for massage. The current research assumes that the oil is left on the skin and not washed off in the bath. 

It is possible that you have already used ghee, olive or mustard oil for your baby's massage and not seen any dryness or other reaction on her skin. These are very popular massage oils and maybe, they have not affected your baby's skin badly because you have washed off the oil well during her 
bath. Most research on oleic acid and how it affects the skin assumes that the oil stays on the skin for long. But watch your baby's skin carefully for signs of dryness or irritation. If you see any, try a different oil that is more suited to babies' delicate skin. 

Aromatherapy essential oils, such as tea tree oil, or chamomile oil, should not be used, as they are unsuitable for your baby's sensitive skin. 

If you aren't sure about which massage oil to use, speak to your doctor. He may suggest a perfume-free oil, cream or lotion suitable for your baby's skin type.

If your baby's skin becomes red, itchy, sore or flaky after using a particular oil on your baby’s skin, then stop using it immediately.

Should I massage my baby with oil before or after a bath?

In India, oil massages are often done before a bath. This is a good idea, especially if you are using thick oil that doesn’t seem to get fully absorbed or an oil that is high in oleic acid such as mustard oil or olive oil. 

However, some types of oil, in particular mineral baby oil, leave a thin film on the skin surface after it is massaged in. So using mineral oil after a bath will help the skin retain moisture, by slowing water evaporation. This a good option to try if your baby has dry skin.

Should I use oil in hot and humid weather?

Some experts believe that if oil remains on the skin in hot weather, it can block pores and trap in sweat. They feel it works similarly to applying oil after a bath, it traps in the moisture. But if the skin stays moist with sweat in hot and humid weather, it can cause a heat rash. 

So although there isn't any research done on this topic, to be on the safe side, when the weather is hot, you might want to use oil for your baby's massage before her bath and wash it off well.

Experts advise to use only enough oil, cream or lotion to produce a glisten on your baby’s skin. Applying oils in a thick and heavy layer can make your baby hot and itchy, particularly in hot weather, and stain her clothing.

Should I make my baby's massage oil at home?

There are probably as many recipes for baby massage oil as there are houses. You can mix oils that are known to be safe for baby skin to get one you feel happy with. If you are mixing natural oils, remember to choose oils that are higher in polyunsaturated fats. 

Some home-made massage oil recipes require the oil to be heated with spices. In the northern and eastern parts of the country, for example, mustard oil (sarson ka tel) is heated with a few garlic cloves (lehsun) and fenugreek (methi) seeds. Garlic is said to have antiviral and anti-bacterial properties. It is also believed to boost the immune system. Fenugreek is also thought to relax the body. In some regions, mustard oil is tempered with carom seeds (ajwain). It is believed this mix can soothe 
colicky babies.

There is no research on how the beneficial properties of these spices affect a baby when applied to their skin. So it's difficult to say if this is recommended or not. Do speak to your doctor about the oil you plan to use on your baby's skin and keep these precautions in mind to keep your baby safe:

·         Use a base oil that is known to be gentle enough for your baby's skin.

·         Test the temperature of the oil before starting the massage by dipping the tip of your elbow into it, just like you do for bath water. The oil should feel pleasant, not hot before you use it on your baby.

·         Test the oil on a patch of your baby's skin the first time you make it. Watch that area for at least 24 hours to see if your baby reacts to any ingredients in the oil. If there is any redness, irritation or dryness, do not use that oil for your baby's massage and consult your doctor.

·         Avoid spices that might cause a burning sensation on the skin such as black pepper (kali mirch) or chillies (mirch).

Some families add fresh cream (malai), gram flour (besan) and turmeric (haldi) to oil to make a paste. Using raw milk may not be a good idea as there's a risk of infections from it. Raw milk can carry bacteria which cause 
diarrhoea or TB. Also, the coarse nature of gram flour may cause slight scratches and abrasions.

What other safety precautions should I take while using oil for my baby's massage?

·         Choose massage oils of reputed brands with ISI and AGMARK certification. Loosely sold or unbranded oils could give your baby skin infections. If your baby accidentally ingests such oils, it may cause a stomach infection.

·         Don't put any oil in your baby's nose, eyes, navel or ears. Although it is a common practice in India, putting oil in these places can be harmful and lead to infections.

·         Use gentle, upward strokes when massaging your baby. Applying pressure to your baby's head will not make it round or pressing the shins will not make them straight.

·         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 last.

If you've hired a maalishwali for your baby, speak to her about these things. Some maalishwalis may also make their own oils and insist on using them, but it's best to be cautious. Some of these home-made oils may have herbs, additives or ingredients that may not be safe for babies

Courtesy By - babycenter


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