Welcome to part three of my baby massage series. This week I am sharing- How to choose a suitable oil for baby massage
Oil is the perfect medium for baby massage. It allows your hands to glide easily over your baby’s skin avoiding friction, while regular application will help to keep their skin soft and supple.
With so many oils to choose from which are the best to use?
The International Association of Infant Massage recommends “babies be massaged with a high quality, preferably organic, unscented, cold pressed vegetable oil”.
Mineral oils are unsuitable for massage as they create a greasy, sticky texture and make baby slippery. They are also best avoided as they leave a film which means the skin cannot breathe properly or eliminate toxins, which could lead to allergies or dryness, and are usually artificially fragranced which can be a cause of sensitivity and irritation.
By contrast well-chosen plant oils are similar to the fats under our skin and can have very positive benefits, carrying nourishing fat soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids into the skin and enhancing the skin’s protective functioning without blocking the pores.
That said you do need to be careful with your choice of plant oils for delicate baby skin.
A recent study* found that “olive oil significantly damages the skin barrier, and therefore has the potential to promote the development of, and exacerbate existing, atopic dermatitis” concluding that its use in infant massage should be discouraged.
You also need to wary of potentially sensitising nut oils particularly where there is a tendency to eczema and allergies – peanut and tree nut oils such as almond and the seed oil sesame are all high on the list of sensitising ingredients.
The oil you choose is down to your own preference but as a guide I would suggest using oils which are low in oleic fatty acids (thought to be responsible for olive oils adverse effect) and high in linoleic fatty acids. Oil such as sunflower or starflower and evening primrose (both rich in GLA and particularly beneficial for dry, irritated skin and cradle cap) fit the bill. These and coconut (a saturated and well tolerated oil) are the most suitable and favourable for baby skin. They can be found in Nom Nom’s Baby Oil and Baby Butter.
Next week I will be sharing – How to encourage tummy time with baby massage.
To learn a full baby massage routine along with how to adapt the strokes as your baby grows visit IAIM to find a class near you.
Jayne Russell has over twenty years of experience as a pre and postnatal massage and nutritional therapist and is the founder of Nom Nom – award winning, certified organic pregnancy and baby skincare. Sign up for your free skincare guide “10 Steps to Super Healthy Baby Skin” at www.nomnomskincare.com
* EFFECT OF OLIVE OIL AND SUNFLOWER SEED OIL ON THE ADULT SKIN BARRIER: IMPLICATIONS FOR NEONATAL SKIN CARE
Danby SG, Alenezi T, Sultan A, Lavender T, Chittock J, Brown K, Cork MJ