Choosing the Best Massage Oil for Babies
Learn how to choose the best massage oil for your infant
Parents are hearing the latest buzz about infant massage and they want to give their baby the very best!. But choosing the best massage oil for babies can have you a bit overwhelmed with all of the choices, ingredients, and brands. We are here to help!
You may have heard that infant massage is a great way to calm your infant and promote relaxed bonding time. You have heard right! The intimacy of flesh to flesh soothing will help your baby to feel safe, comforted, and close to you. A massage oil or cream is used along with simple massage techniques that anyone can do to provide a relaxing and peaceful experience for your baby. Don’t worry. It’s not hard to do and anyone can do it.
This article is for parents and caregivers and will provide the following helpful information:
- The benefits of baby massage
- Simple massage techniques for babies
- How to choose the best massage oil or cream for your baby
- What ingredients to avoid in a baby massage oil
- A bit about essential oils you can use
- Three of our favorite massage oil recommendations for your baby
Here at the Babienet Parenting Community we understand the value of community. We provide a safe space for you to interact with other parents, as well as a wealth of information to help you to be the best parent you can be. Come and join us! You can also join us on Facebook or follow our Blog.
The benefits of baby massage
Infant massage helps to develop a strong bond between parent and baby while encouraging close, non-verbal communication and trust. You may even find it is just as relaxing for you as it is for your baby. With gentle, calming strokes, you can ease your baby’s discomfort or stress and promote a sense of calm, peace, and rest. Infant massage after a bath, for example, could help to calm a baby that is usually upset by the bathing routine. If your baby has a difficult time winding down in the evenings for sleeping, a few massage techniques would help them to relax and become a reassuring part of the bedtime routine.
According to the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM), baby massage has a myriad of helpful benefits for your baby, including:
- May provide relief of gas pains
- Promotes bonding and healthy development of attachment between baby and parent
- Stimulates the senses in a calming way
- Promotes good non-verbal communication
- May stimulate the circulatory system
- May help with constipation
- May provide a calming distraction and relief from teething pain
- Promotes relaxation and better sleep
- May help to improve muscle function and development
- Reduced stress hormones
- Helps with flexibility
While studies are on-going on the benefits of infant massage to particular medical issues such as gas relief or teething pain relief, the benefits of calm, restfulness and emotional bonding are widely accepted. Before using infant massage techniques to correct a medical issue you should discuss your thoughts and concerns with your child’s doctor.
Preparing for an infant massage session
You do not need a lot of supplies for baby massage, but you do want to have a few things on hand and a few small things to prepare.
- Make sure your hands and nails are soft, manicured, or free from rough calluses or sharp nails.
- Prepare a quiet space where your baby can relax and you can both enjoy the peaceful experience.
- Keep the lights reasonably low. Perhaps turn off the overhead light and choose a lamp that is less bright. Make sure the light is not shining in your baby’s face where they will be laying.
- Consider soft music or nature sounds to stimulate your baby’s sense of hearing in a gentle manner during the massage. Think of what may relax you if you were going to a massage spa and apply it to your baby’s age: ocean waves, forest sounds, gentle rain sounds, classical music or lullabies, sleep stories that are child appropriate or bedtime stories for babies.
- Soft blanket for your baby to lay on or to cover with as you massage another area of the body. You don’t want your baby to get cold during the massage.
- A soft hand towel or cloth for wiping your hands or wiping away excess oils or creams.
- A baby-safe massage oil or cream.
How to choose the best massage oil or cream for your baby
Baby skin is delicate, soft, and sometimes quite sensitive. You want to be sure to get the right product to use for a massage oil or a massage cream so that it cares for their skin and does not bother their tender skin.
** Do not use a standard adult massage cream, heavily scented creams and oils, or a sensual/adult massage product on your baby.**
With all of the advertisements for baby products and such a variety of baby care items available, it can be difficult to know exactly what is safe, what would be the best, and what oil you can use without worry. There are “carrier oils” to consider and additives, potential allergens, price and availability. We’ve done a bit of the research for you and hope this guide will help you to choose the right massage oil for your baby, one you can make a part of your baby’s routine.
Store any massage oil for babies in a baby-safe container that will not break. You do not want to have a fancy massage oil jar made out of glass and risk knocking it onto the floor during a massage session with your wriggly baby! It could break and create a risk for injury.
What are carrier oils?
The carrier oil refers to the main component of a massage oil. This may contain other ingredients for scent or other purposes. For a baby, you want to use a good carrier oil that will not bother their skin and make sure there are no harmful additives. Some carrier oils are better for the delicate skin of a baby and some are better for adults.
Common massage carrier oils
- Coconut oil
- Apricot kernel oil
- Olive oil
- Argan oil
- Rosehip oil
- Jojoba oil
- Sweet almond oil
- Black seed oil
- Grape seed oil
What are the safest carrier oils for use on an infant or toddler’s skin?
- Coconut oil
- Almond oil
- Baby oil
- Safflower oil
- Borage seed oil
- Rosehip oil
- Oat oil
Are there harmful additives to avoid?
- Olive oil–contains oleic acid which can irritate baby’s sensitive skin
- Avocado oil
- Peanut oil– contains peanut proteins which can irritate baby’s skin or cause allergic reaction
- Tea tree oil–can be too harsh for baby’s skin
Some essential oils can irritate baby’s skin
According to Medical News Today, there are some essential oils that can bother your baby’s skin. So, if you are an essential oil enthusiast, keep these on your list of “do not use” until your baby is older and their skin is more tolerant of these oils.
Here are some of the essential oils to avoid:
- Lemon verbena
Better choices of essential oils that are more gentle for your baby (when diluted in carrier oil)
Precautions should be made when you use any essential oils with your babies. Make sure they are diluted well and shaken into the carrier oil. Make sure they do not directly touch your baby’s skin when undiluted. Keep your essential oils put away so they are out of baby’s reach!
Simple Massage tips for baby massage
Infant massage is not quite as complicated as it is for adults because you want to keep it simple and all about the pleasant experience.
- Avoid falls. Be sure to have a fall-safe surface for your baby during a massage. Never turn away from your baby leaving them unattended atop a changing table or bed where they could be at risk for a fall. Put everything you will need to do the infant massage within your reach or have someone there to assist.
- Use a baby-safe container for any massage oils.
- Heat the massage oil only with body heat and your hands.
- Avoid potential allergens and harmful ingredients.
Keep a light touch.
You do not want to use a heavy hand or movements that may startle your baby. Remember their little muscles are working on growing and developing. Their skin is tender and delicate. Your hands should be soft and gentle with your baby when you are performing any kind of massage techniques.
Warm the oil in your hands before you put it on your baby’s skin.
Put a little of the massage oil into the palm of your hand and rub it between your hands to warm it up a bit before applying it to your baby’s skin. Cold creams and oils can startle your baby or make them cold during a massage. They will be more comfortable and relaxed if you warm the oil with your own body heat and the friction between your hands rubbing together.
DO NOT heat massage oil in the microwave or with hot water! You do not want to burn your baby’s skin. Lukewarm / room temperature in a comfortable room is warm enough for your baby.
Use light, smooth strokes.
Using light smooth strokes, keep your massage techniques simple. Smooth strokes down the length of an arm or leg, for example. Do not drop your baby’s limb between massage strokes, but offer a calm support with one hand and smooth, tender “petting” strokes with the other hand like you are running your hand down the back of a beloved pet to offer comfort or praise. It’s an odd analogy, but you get the picture. Long, soft strokes.
Do not massage your baby when / if:
- Immediately after a feeding
- When your baby has a fever
- Over a wound or incision
- If your baby has certain medical conditions–Check with your baby’s pediatrician.
Review some helpful videos to learn a few techniques
There are some helpful videos to teach you a few “moves” if you aren’t sure what to do. Here are a few that we found especially helpful:
This video shows helpful baby massage techniques and methods such as:
- Gentle ringing motion
- Indian Milking technique
- Swedish massage techniques for baby
- The “water wheel” technique
- “I Love You” 3-part stroke
One nice tip in this video is how to ask your baby’s permission. We found that to be a gentle and kind way to start a baby massage.
This video demonstrates a great gas-relieving clockwise abdomen technique.
Best massage oil for babies that come highly recommended
Some baby massage oils are dominating the market and carrying a high reputation amongst massage-conscious parents. We thought we’d share a few of these that hold the title of the best massage oils for babies. We considered price, ease of purchase, attractive packaging, quality ingredients, and name brands you can trust. Here are our top three picks for best massage oil for babies!
A very affordable and highly-rated massage oil for babies comes from the trusted company Burt’s Bees. The product is cruelty-free and 100% natural. You can start with this product for your own skin during pregnancy and post-pregnancy for your tummy or nipple areas.
Parents rave over this oil for their own skin but also as a wonderful non-greasy massage oil for their babies. Burt’s Bees offers an entire line of baby products including bath products and moisturizers for their skin. This oil has a delicate mildly citrus smell you and your baby will love.
This gentle oil is great for soothing your baby and promoting rest with ingredients such as lavender and chamomile. Perfect for after bath or before bedtime you can ease your baby into a lovely state of calm.
There are no artificial dyes or perfumes that may irritate your baby. The carrier oil is a nourishing sunflower oil to support your baby massage techniques while soothing your baby with calming scents that won’t harm your baby.
This oil is made from a combination of organic sesame oil and extract of lovely calendula flowers. This massage oil is a popular choice for parents who love a little touch of nature for their babies.
Mums in the UK liked Weleda Calendula baby Oil so much it received accolades in the MadeForMums Awards 2018! This oil is a popular vegan choice as well.
Parents love the simple two-ingredient formula and babies love the gentle feel. You can also use it for chapped areas or as a gentle oil-based cleanser on a baby’s sensitive skin.
Can you make your own massage oil for babies?
Yes you can! Check out these tips for making your own massage oils for your sweet baby! Many parents prefer DIY massage oils because it gives them the assurance of choosing the best ingredients they can trust for their baby’s precious skin. This also allows you to choose vegan options, organic ingredients, or responsibly sourced ingredients.
- Use a recommended carrier oil such as coconut oil or Rosehip oil
- Only add scent with essential oils, sparingly, and diluted. You do not want raw essential oils to touch your baby’s skin as they are very concentrated.
Using your favorite carrier oil and soothing ingredients such as lavender flowers and rose petals, this flower-infused massage oil for babies is soon to become your favorite DIY massage oil recipe for babies. Flower-Infused Oil for Baby Massage
References | for further reading on massage oils for baby:
What kind of oil should I use to massage my baby?.
Simple massage techniques for babies:
Massage techniques: How to Massage a Baby
Infant massage videos: Infant Massage Techniques, Benefits, Relaxation – Watch WebMD Video
This article is brought to you by our contributing writers and parents here at the Babienet Parenting Community, where we value the stories of parents just like you! We welcome you to share your journey with us.
Christina M Ward is a mom, grandmother, and writer of lots and lots of words. When she’s not busy obsessing over writing poetry and well-living articles, she is out in nature exploring or doing needlepoint crafts in front of Netflix. She loves books and reading, learning geeky things about nature, and helping other people live their best life.
Choosing the Best Massage Oil for Babies is a helpful guide to choosing a great massage oil for babies and discusses massage oil ingredients that are good for babies.