From your grandmothers to Ayurvedic practitioners, everyone encourages new mothers to devote some time each day towards massaging their baby with a good baby massage oil. Are you curious to understand how regular massages can help your little one?
For babies, body massage is a great way to relax their nerves, strengthen their muscles and give them a good night's sleep. With tons of brands claiming to sell the best baby massage oil, it is pretty hard to pick the best one for your baby's soft and sensitive skin.
Are you looking for a high-quality massage oil rich in essential oils to provide the best skincare and nourishment to your baby? If yes, you’re at the right place. In this read, we will brief you about all the benefits of massaging your little one, the best massage oil to use, and a step-by-step guide to massage your baby the right way.
Infant massage is not a new concept; historically it has been used as a way for moms to nurture and spend time with their baby. In fact, the first baby massage with oil dates back to ancient India, where it was incorporated into Ayurvedic medicine to improve their blood circulation, boost digestive function, get rid of toxins, and enhance their overall well-being.
Let's unpack some of the primary benefits of giving the baby a good message.
A study conducted by "touch therapy" (a massage) on premature babies showed 47% more weight gain than premature babies who haven't received any messages.
A mother, Stephen Agakian, gave birth to her 1lb 5 ounces baby girl at 25 weeks gestation. She was then asked to massage her infant to promote growth and overall health. This is because numerous studies have proved that massaging the baby helps with healthy weight gain and increases bone density.
A regular massage helps reduce bilirubin levels (a compound present in the blood that causes jaundice). It also helps boost the frequency of bowel movements, which helps eliminate excess bilirubin from the blood.
It is known that human touch can reduce stress and lower blood pressure in adults, and babies are no different. Human touch releases endorphins which drop cortisol. This results in increased babies' senses of safety and security, which brings them into a more balanced state of well-being.
A study found that a massage can be life-saving for premature babies. The researchers explained how a regular baby massage visibly reduces stress and promotes the maturation of the premature nervous system.
Read - Body Massage Oils recommended by Ayurveda
You might have seen many infant rockers, seats, and swings having a vibrating feature. Have you ever wondered why? It is because vibration can help reduce colic (severe pain in the abdomen caused by an obstruction in the intestines) in babies.
But a prolonged time in baby containers and chairs is not suitable for the little one's overall development. A study showed how an infant massage could successfully calm a colicky baby instead of vibrating chairs and swings.
For a baby, massages help lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and stimulate melatonin production; which also helps regulate sleep cycles. A baby massage makes babies fall asleep faster and longer.
The bond between mama and baby can be reinforced through eye-contact and skin-to-skin contact . A baby massage primarily benefits mothers with postnatal depression who can't bond with their babies .
These benefits don't just apply to mothers; a massage also helps reduce paternal stress and improves the bond between baby and daddy. They can connect and communicate with their children better.
Also read - Dhanwantharam Thailam for Massage During Pregnancy
As infants have an underdeveloped sphincter in their esophagus, they struggle to burp on their own. This builds up gas in their system and leads to belly discomfort. Massaging the baby regularly and kneading your fingers under your baby’s rib gently in a clockwise direction helps in relieving that pressure.
A massage promotes alertness, and when babies are more alert, they can learn more. A study where 4-month-old babies were given 8-minute massages showed that they responded more favorably to habituation tasks when compared to babies who hadn't received any massage (8).
Like how a massage helps improve many conditions in adults, it also helps treat conditions in babies and young children. A few of the pediatric psychiatric disorders that can be enhanced with a massage are - (9)
Choose an oil that is easily absorbed into the baby's skin and is specially designed for their soft and sensitive skin. Never use heavy mineral oils, as they can clog the pores. Whichever oil you choose, make sure that it’s pure and unadulterated to avoid skin allergies or reactions. You should also stay away from oils that contain artificial dyes, artificial perfumes, parabens, PEG, or EDTA.
Here’s our top recommendation for the best baby massage oil.
Kama Ayurveda's Ayurvedic Baby Massage Oil is a head-to-toe baby massage oil that helps soothe, soften, nourish, and protect your baby's delicate skin and keep it radiant and healthy. Created from 12 potent Ayurvedic ingredients as included in the ancient Ayurvedic text of Ashtanga Hrudaya, this oil is very calming and deeply nourishing.
Sesame oil, forming the base of this moisturizing massage oil, is enriched with protein-rich Whey to soothe and soften the delicate skin. The healing Sandalwood, Kutaki, and Turmeric extracts in the oil help prevent scarring, treat conditions, and keep the complexion soft and radiant.
The extracts of Dill and Deodar help protect your little one from cold, cough, and fevers. Being rich in antibacterial properties, Nutgrass, Licorice, and Costus fight skin infections while keeping your baby's skin soft, supple, and smooth.
Warm the oil lightly and gently massage the baby's hair, face, and body. Let the oil sit for about ten to fifteen minutes before cleansing the skin with mild baby soap and lukewarm water.
Follow this massage with a lukewarm bath using natural soap. Post bath, use a deep moisturizing oil such as Sweet Almond Oil.
Read - 10 Amazing Benefits of Almond Oil For Hair, Body, and Skin
Whether you are soothing your infant to dreamland or easing their gassy belly, a massage works like magic for your baby. All the power lies in your tender, loving touch.
The following basic tips and techniques will help you give the most relaxing and comforting infant massage.
For better results, the experts always suggest giving the massage in a warm, quiet place (either outdoors or indoors). Make yourself comfortable by sitting on the bed or floor, or stand in front of the changing table. Then, make sure to position your baby comfortably in front of you, on a towel or a blanket. Maintain a comforting eye contact while undressing the baby, and tell him that it's massage time.
Always use a gentle touch while massaging your baby in the initial stages. However, as the baby grows, you can have a firmer touch. Don't tickle the baby, as it might irritate him/her.
Communicate with your baby throughout the massage while keeping an eye contact. You can either sing or tell a story. Repeat the words like "relax" in a calming tone to help release his/her tension.
If your baby jiggles his/her arms, it means he/she likes the massage. So, you can continue doing the massage. Stop the massage if your baby turns his/her head away from you and seems unhappy or restless. Try again later without putting much pressure.
Unless your baby has a rash or very dry or sensitive skin, you can use any pure and natural oil like Almond Oil, Sesame Oil or Coconut Oil to massage your baby. We strongly recommend Kama Ayurveda’s Ayurvedic Baby Massage oil with 12 potent Ayurvedic ingredients with immense benefits for the baby.
Experts favor oils that are more easily absorbed into the skin, like plant-based or vegetable oils. These oils are also easy to digest if your baby sucks the oily fingers. If you opt for vegetable oil, go for the pure, refined oils as they have a mildew smell, thin texture, longer shelf life, and very few chances of containing impurities like molds, fungal spores, and yeast.
If your baby's skin is dry, sensitive, broken, or has eczema, it is better not to use clarified butter (ghee), Mustard oil, or Olive oil to massage your baby. It is because ghee, mustard, and olive oils are rich in oleic acid, making your baby's skin layers more permeable. In simpler words, applying oils rich in oleic acid can make your baby's skin more tender and dry.
Aromatherapy essential oils like Chamomile oil, Tea Tree oil, and Lavender Oil are unsuitable for the baby's sensitive skin and should not be used. If you aren't sure which oil can be used for your baby, contact your baby's doctor and refer to his opinion. He might suggest a perfume-free, non-alcoholic oil, lotion, or cream suitable for your baby's skin type.
Also, if your baby's skin becomes sore, itchy, flaky, or red post-massage, stop using it immediately.
Read - Home Remedies For Dry Skin – 10 Ways To Soothe Dryness
Usually, in India, oil massages are done before bath time. This is a great idea, primarily if you use a thick oil that does not get fully absorbed into the skin.
However, some oils like Almond Oil leave a thin film on the skin to retain moisture from the skin. Such oils can be used after a bath as they slow down water evaporation, thus helping in retaining skin moisture. This is an excellent option if your baby has dry skin.
Read - How To Remove Stretch Marks Naturally
Some experts believe that if oil remains in the skin in hot or humid weather, it can clog pores and trap sweat. This is similar to the oil applied after a bath; it traps moisture-clogging pores. When the skin stays moist in hot and humid weather with sweat, it is more likely to cause a heat rash. Therefore, to avoid the risk and be on the safe side, massage the skin with oil before the bath and rinse it off well.
Experts also suggest using only enough oil to help your hands glide smoothly on the baby's skin. Applying oils in a heavy layer can make your baby itchy and hot, especially in hot and humid weather.
Shreya Dalela is a certified Yoga instructor and a professional dancer trained at The Danceworx. She’s passionate about Ayurveda and holistic living with over 6 years of experience in doing extensive research and content creation in the domain.
Certified Ayurvedic Doctor (Central Council of Indian Medicine) working in Kama Ayurveda as an Assistant Training Manager.