From healthier sleep to better parent-child bonding, there are some significant benefits to infant massages. With every tender stroke, your kid will feel nourished and loved which will only result in making the bond stronger for you two.
The science behind it:
You can start massaging your baby after the first few weeks of birth.
A gentle massage activates a key nerve, called the vagus nerve, which links the brain with crucial segments of the body, including the gut. Arousing this nerve leads to improved digestion and bowel movement, helping your little one to gain a kilo or two eventually.
In fact, according to a few experts, tiny amounts of the fats present in the oil could be absorbed via your child’s skin too. The moderate strokes of massage also produce heat and boost blood circulation to every part of the body.
How Does it Benefit Your Little One?
From tummy troubles to teething pains, a relaxing massage helps babies calm down when they’re finicky and soothe them to sleep. Massages may lead to prompt and long-term results, irrespective of your baby’s age, whether your baby is newborn or several years old,
- Infant massage releases hormones that can assist in relieving discomfort from teething, chest and nose congestion, colic, and emotional stress.
- Gentle massage encourages the development of flexibility and coordination.
- It also increases oxygen and nutrient flow to the cells.
- Some studies show that massage, particularly when done with oil, may help a premature baby to gain weight.
Puzzled about where to begin? Here’s all you need to know & more.
How to Do Baby Massage? - Step by Step Process:
Read on to know the simple steps you need to follow to do it effectively.
1) Prepare the Mood:
Put your phone in silent mode, lower the lights, play some soft music if the baby likes it, and most importantly, keep the room warm enough for the little one. About 75 degrees F works just fine.
2) Keep the Baby on a Flat Surface
This might well be on the bed, the floor, or the baby’s changing table. Parents often love to do it by placing babies on their chest, which is known as skin-to-skin care or kangaroo care. One thumb rule here, always make sure the baby is comfortable wherever he/she is placed.
3) Add it to your daily routine & keep following your baby’s cues. Start off by massaging the back to soothe him. Then, massage the arms followed by the head slowly to relax him.
Oils that are Safe to Use for Massage
Coconut oil, safflower oil, almond oil, chamomile, grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, and oat oil are some of the options that you can choose from.
Pick a massage oil, that’s edible & odour free, a cold-pressed fruit/ vegetable oil, or mineral baby oil everything works unless your kid suffers from a particular skin concern.
Oils that are Not Too Skin-Friendly:
Is your kid suffering from dry, hypersensitive skin, eczema, or broken skin? Then, it’s good to avoid mustard oil (sarson ka tel), clarified butter (ghee), and olive oil (jaitoon ka tel).
And, here’s why.
Olive oil, ghee, and mustard oil have really high oleic acid content which can make some layers of the baby's skin more porous. Therefore, oils containing oleic acid could make your baby's skin even more brittle.
Try extra-virgin olive oil as it’s the purest form and sans any chemicals. It also contains more nutrients than other kinds of olive oil.
According to most research conducted on oleic acid and how it affects the skin reveals that the oil sticks on the skin for longer. Watch out whether your baby's skin becomes red, itchy, sore, or flaky. If yes, then make sure you go for a different option.
For your baby's sensitive skin, aromatherapy essential oils, such as tea tree oil, or chamomile oil are a strict no-no. Always speak to an expert if you aren't feeling too certain about which oil to apply for your baby's skin type.
Oil Massage Before or After the Shower?
Traditionally in India, oil massages are mostly done before a bath. It totally makes sense particularly if you are using thick oil that doesn’t get fully soaked up or oil that is high in oleic acid like mustard or olive oil.
If your baby has dry skin, mineral oil post bath will help the skin preserve moisture, by decelerating water evaporation.
Should I use oil in Hot & Humid Weather?
Some experts believe that if oil remains on the skin in hot weather, it can close up pores and trap sweat. They feel it works similarly to applying oil after a bath, it traps in the moisture. During the summer months, if the skin remains moist with sweat, it might cause a prickly heat rash.
However, to be on the safer side, during the most humid months, you might want to use oil for your baby's massage before the bath so that it can be wiped off entirely.
Homemade Baby Massage Oil Recipes - Preparation
- A warming and invigorating massage using a homemade oil recipe for 15-20 minutes can ease up any muscle stiffness and is quite helpful for your little munchkin to sleep peacefully.
- In case you’re mixing natural oils, make sure to choose oils that are higher in polyunsaturated fats. Here we’ve curated some of the simplest recipes which are basically a mix of essential & carrier oils of your choice.
- Some of the conventional massage oil recipes require the oil to be heated with spices. For example, mustard oil (sarson ka tel) is warmed up with a few garlic cloves (lehsun) & fenugreek (methi) seeds since garlic is believed to have antiviral and antibacterial properties and the latter is effective in relaxing the body.
Recipe 1: Jojoba Oil + Coconut Oil
- 25 ml jojoba oil
- 5 ml fractioned coconut oil
- 1 drop each of lavender & chamomile essential oil
- 1 glass dropper bottle
How to Prepare?
- Add the essential oils to the bottle.
- Now, fill the rest of the bottle with coconut oil & jojoba oil
- Shake it all up well & your massage oil is ready.
Recipe 2: Almond Oil + Essential Oils
- 20 ml almond oil
- 10 ml calendula infused oil
- 1 drop of chamomile essential oil
- 1 drop of lavender essential oil
How to Prepare?
- Take a glass dropper bottle & mix the essential oils.
- Fill up the remaining bottle with calendula & almond oils.
- Shake the blend too well
Recipe 3: Apricot Oil Based Sweet Dreams Massage Oil
- 1 tbsp. apricot kernel oil
- ½ tbsp. olive oil
- ½ tbsp. coconut oil
- 5-10 drops of lavender essential oil
How to Prepare?
- Mix all the ingredients together in a glass bottle & shake well
- Add only a few drops of essential oil
- Increase the amount only if your baby likes the fragrance.
Recipe 4: Flower Infused Baby Massage Oil
- Any carrier oil (almond, sesame, sunflower, etc.)
- 2 parts organic lavender flowers
- 2 parts organic calendula flowers
- 1 part organic rose petals or buds
- 1 part organic chamomile flowers
- 1 part organic comfrey leaf
- Non-GMO project verified vitamin E oil
How to Prepare?
- Take all the herbal blends in a jar
- Pour your carrier oil into the remaining jar. Close the lid & shake well.
- Store it for 4-6 weeks in a warm place to infuse well & don’t forget to shake the jar on a daily basis
- Add vitamin E oil to the blend
Recipe 5: Lavender Rose Infused Baby Massage Oil
- 120 ml sweet almond oil
- 60 ml jojoba oil
- 30 ml hemp seed oil
- 2 tbsp. each of calendula & rose petals
- 1 drop each of lavender essential oil & sweet orange essential oil
- 2 tbsp. lavender buds
How to Prepare?
- Mix all the herbs into a heat-safe jar, then add sweet almond oil, hemp seed oil, & jojoba oil to it.
- Heat in a double boiler on low heat for 1 hour.
- Strain the herbs with the help of cheesecloth & transfer them to a glass jar.
- Add the essential oils and shake gently
- Let it rest overnight & then use.
Recipe 6: Bedtime Massage Oil
- 150 ml sweet almond oil
- 2 tbsp. each calendula and chamomile flowers
- Lavender, ylang-ylang, patchouli EO mix
How to Prepare?
- Take a glass jar and fill it with all the ingredients.
- Close the lid and shake well. Let it sit in a warm place for 4-6 weeks for the infusion.
- Strain the mixture into another jar and it is now ready to use for your baby.
Recipe 7: Herbs Infused Baby Massage Oil
- 1½ cups sunflower oil
- ¼ cup dried chamomile flowers
- ¼ cup dried calendula flowers
- ⅛ cup lavender buds
How to Prepare?
- Briefly grind all the herbs in a mortar and pestle.
- Take a heat-safe jar and place all the herbs in it and pour the oil over it.
- Cover with parchment paper and close the lid tightly
- Fill a pan with 3 inches of water and place the jar in it
- Warm it on low heat for 4-8 hours
- Take out the jar and let it cool entirely
- Pour the infused oil through a strainer in another glass jar and it’s ready.
Precautionary Measures to Keep in Mind While Concocting:
- The base oil has to be gentle enough for your baby's skin.
- Check the temperature before the massage by taking some oil inside your wrist.
- Always do a patch test on your baby's skin the first time you make it. Wait for at least 24 hours to see if your baby reacts to any of the ingredients present in the oil.
- Steer clear of spices that might cause a burning sensation on the baby’s skin like black pepper (kali mirch) or chilies (mirch).
- Apply gentle, upward strokes while massaging your baby. Irrespective of whichever oil you pick, always read the label & store it accordingly. Most mineral oils may have a use-by date, whereas vegetable oils may come with a best-before date.
- Avoid massaging right after a feed or when the kid is dozy or grouchy.
In case you are a busy parent with an erratic work schedule and don't have enough time to prepare homemade oil, fret not! You can get absolutely organic massage oil online too from trusted brands.
Make sure to look for brands that adhere to Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) guidelines and have the ISI and Agriculture Mark certification. Loosely sold oils could often lead to skin infections. It may also lead to a stomach infection if the little one consumes it accidentally.
Just like adults, babies have different types of skin ranging from normal to dry, oily or even extra sensitive. Today, parents get spoilt for choice as numerous types of baby massage oils are at one’s fingertips. Nevertheless, selecting a baby massage oil has to be done mindfully to avoid any probable skin and health-related complications later on.
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*** Author Name: Deepashree Banerjee (7+ years of diverse experience in content creation & journalism.)