What is the best massage oil for infant massage?
When choosing massage oil for infant massage, the most important rule of thumb is to not put anything on their skin that you would not put in their mouth. Petroleum based oils, or oils with synthetic fragrances and artificial preservatives, are not recommended. For years, the Institute of Somatic Therapy has taught that plain powdered cornstarch (but not talcum powder) is ideal when working on an infant. Cornstarch is a food grade substance that doesn’t penetrate the skin.
Is massage oil for infant massage even necessary?
We recently ran across some studies that indicated that babies who are massaged with oil received greater benefits than babies who were massaged without oil. (The studies did not cover alternate agents such as cornstarch, which we feel would give the same benefits of oil. But since that was not specifically part of the study, we are unable to confirm that fact.) If you prefer to use oil instead of cornstarch, try to find a light, food-based oil that is cold pressed and unrefined. Vegetable or plant oils absorb quickly and digest easily if your baby puts an oil-covered hand in his or her mouth.
Massage Oils to Consider
According to BabyCenter India Medical Advisory Board, coconut oil makes a good choice in the summer due to its cooling effect. They also suggest sesame oil or almond oil, which can be used year-round. A warming oil for winter use is mustard oil, which is said to have a warming effect, although it has a strong smell that your baby might not like.
Avoid using any aromatherapy essential oils, which can be too active for a newborn’s sensitive skin. If you know that your baby has sensitive skin, or has any skin outbreaks, avoid oils that are high in oleic acid (olive oil and sunflower oil fit in this category). Instead, select oils that are higher in linoleic acid (grapeseed oil and safflower oil fit in this category).
Photo credit: Freedigitalphotos.com