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Which Massage Oils Are Good for Babies?

Newborn Baby getting oil massage by his motherYou may be considering incorporation of a massage into your baby’s daily or weekly routine. Before you buy a natural skin care product with an essential oil or consider using a massage oil for your baby, you must first decide which massage oils are safe and appropriate for your baby. In this review, Dr. Amy and the Baby Pibu team consider several massage oils for babies. Review each of them and see which one may be best suited as a massage for your baby.

What are massage oils?

Consider massage oils the same as essential oils. These massage or essential oils are simply the oils from plants that they are extracted from. These oils are not “essential” for health but, rather, they are the essence of the plant’s signature scent. The oils can be extracted from plants by different methods including distillation, direct expression, and solvent extraction (using chemical to extract the desired oil).

The most common essential oils on the market include Roman chamomile, Clary sage, Eucalyptus globulus, Eucalyptus radiata, Lavender, Lemongrass, Mandarin, Neroli, Peppermint, Rosemary, Tea tree, Thyme, Ylang ylang. The most common massage oils on the market are coconut oil, sunflower oil, calendula oil, chamomile oil, almond oil, and olive oil.

baby pibu baby butter - natural eczema cream
Try using Baby Pibu’s Baby Butter to give baby a massage. The natural lavender will soothe baby.

What are the benefits of massage oils for babies?

Massage oils evoke the feelings of soothing, calming, revitalizing, and nurturing. These feelings are there for a reason. Throughout history and including the modern era of massage or essential oil use, we have learned and been exposed to all of the uses of these oils. There has been more recent interest with massage and essential oils in aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils for their curative properties. Through aromatherapy, essential oils are commonly inhaled or applied to the skin by massage. There are many claimed benefits from essential oils including anti-inflammatory potential, calming and soothing properties, and healing relief. Chamomile is known to be anti-inflammatory as well as calming and soothing for children. Several others oils are known to be anti-inflammatory including lemongrass, thyme, and tea tree oils. Ones known to be calming and soothing are chamomile, lavender, and sage.

Let’s look at the massage oil safety profile.

When considering the safety of massage and essential oils, first consider the quality of the oil. Other safety considerations include the skin irritancy of the oil, allergy potential of the oil and the photosensitization of the oil. Undiluted massage and essential oils can cause skin irritancy so almost all massage and essential oils are significantly diluted to 0.5 to 2% concentration. Essential oils commonly known to cause skin irritancy at higher percentages are oils from bay leaf, cinnamon leaf or bark, clove bud, citronella, lemongrass, oregano, and thyme. Allergy potential is an important risk of using massage and essential oils chronically on your baby’s skin. Since these oils commonly come from plants, there can be poison-ivy like rashes caused by massage and essential oils. Allergic sensitization occurs after repeated use of a substance. After repeated use, the body’s immune system decides to target a specific protein in that substance and become allergic to it. This can happen randomly. The essential oils having a higher allergic potential are cinnamon leaf or bark, Ylang ylang, Jasminum grandiflorum, and Balsam of Peru. Essential oils with a lower allergenic potential are oils from lavender, rosemary, and thyme. Finally, photosensitization reactions occur when a substance has a reaction with the ultraviolet rays and then that altered substance produces a reaction or rash on the skin. Common photosensitizers include Bergamot, Citrus limonum, Citrus senensis, and Cumin.

Massage oils for babies:

Giving your baby a massage can give you and your baby that extra special time to bond with each other and soothe each other. Giving your baby a massage after bath time is ideal since application of an oil on wet skin allows for the hydration to be locked in. When giving your baby a massage, lay your baby safely on his or her back and start gently on the tummy with soft circular motions and work the massage to the hands and feet. Before you use a massage oil, test some oil on yourself and on the back of your baby’s hand to make sure no irritation or rash occurs.

  • Coconut oil
    • This is the best massage oil for babies with any skin type, including sensitive skin and eczema prone skin. It is very moisturizing, least irritating and has a low allergy potential.
    • Use virgin coconut oil.
    • Coconut oil contains lauric acid. It is the lauric acid that offers antibacterial properties.
  • Sunflower oil
    • Sunflower oil is another massage oil for babies that can be used on all skin types, including sensitive skin and eczema prone skin.
    • Sunflower oil is high in linoleic acid and has been shown to boost ceramide production in our skin. Ceramides are the skin oils/fats that are produced by our skin to enhance hydration and barrier protection.
    • Sunflower oil offers anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Olive oil
    • Be cautious of using olive oil as a massage oil for your baby.
    • Olive oil is low in the fatty acid linoleic acid (strengthens skin barrier) and high in oleic acid (weakens skin barrier).
    • Olive oil has been shown to possibly damage the skin barrier and cause some irritation and redness when applied routinely.
  • Calendula oil
    • Calendula oil comes from the flowers of the pot marigold, Calendula officinalis.
    • Calendula oil can be considered as a massage oil for babies. It offers anti-inflammatory properties, but be cautious using it chronically for concern of allergy potential.
    • Consider blending calendula oil with either sunflower oil or coconut oil.
  • Chamomile oil
    • The most common varieties of chamomile oil used are German chamomile and Roman chamomile.
    • Chamomile oil can be used as a massage oil for babies, but again, be cautious of using it chronically for concern of allergy potential.
    • Chamomile oil has long been used in the treatment of eczema. It is thought to offer anti-inflammatory properties.
    • Consider blending chamomile oil with either sunflower or coconut oil as its mild scent can be soothing during your baby’s massage.

There you go! Your brief go-to summary on which massage oils to consider using for your baby.