The National Health Service (NHS) recommends that parents do not use oils or lotions on their baby until they are at least one month old. This is because, at birth, the upper layer of the baby's skin is very thin and easily damaged. During the first month (or longer in premature babies), the baby's skin matures and develops its own natural protective barrier. When it comes to choosing a massage oil for your baby, there are several options available. Shea butter is a creamy natural moisturizer that is safe for your baby's thin skin.
Look for pure shea butter that has no added perfumes or chemicals. Safflower oil is a cold-pressed vegetable oil that contains vitamin E, while grapeseed oil is also a cold-pressed oil that is normally safe to use as a massage oil on your baby. If you're looking for a hypoallergenic baby oil, you can't go wrong with one made with natural ingredients and full of antioxidants and vitamins. A base of apricot and grape seed oil can help relieve any irritation caused by dry skin, while also being useful for other needs such as removing makeup or chapped lips. Recent research has also shown that applying virgin coconut oil to preterm infants can help improve and strengthen their skin, and can provide the same benefits for newborns and older babies when used as a massage oil and moisturizer. Vaseline is another tried and true product for moisturizing dry, irritated skin.
The baby formula also offers a pleasant and subtle fragrance of baby powder. Alternatively, you can try a fragrance-free moisturizing oil that combines calendula and grapeseed oils to offer an irritant-free option to soothe your baby's dry skin. It is also a good choice for massages and cradle cap treatments. Some women use olive oil to massage babies during winters. It has several benefits for the baby's skin and induces a good night's sleep.
You can mix olive oil with other oils such as mustard oil to improve the properties, but avoid olive oil if the baby has a skin condition. When it comes to massaging your baby, it's important to ask their permission before beginning to ensure they are happy to receive it. You can use organic, cold-pressed, unrefined, light and edible oils such as sesame, almond, or coconut oils. A few drops of tea tree oil mixed with a carrier oil can be used on your baby's skin, while calendula oil has a calming effect on your baby's skin with a mild smell that won't irritate their nose. Recent studies suggest that infant massage can lower levels of bilirubin in the blood which causes jaundice, increase the frequency of bowel movement, help bond mothers with postpartum depression to their babies, and even have beneficial effects on the health and well-being of the baby. The most important thing to do is keep it simple - baby massage does not have to be executed perfectly to be effective. As Ronda Cheatham, owner of A Touch of Grace Massage Therapy in Remington, Virginia explains: “Babies' “senses of safety and security increase, and all of this leads the individual to a more balanced state of well-being overall”.
In one study, 4-month-old children who received 8-minute massages responded more favorably to audiovisual habituation tasks than infants who did not receive massage.