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Which oil to use for your baby massage

The main purpose of massage oils is to lubricate the skin to reduce friction while performing a massage.

A baby massage oil should be edible, but be aware that not all edible oils are suitable for a baby massage.

Before you try any oil on your baby's skin, just dab a little on his or her hand and see if it is compatible with the skin. If the baby's skin develops any rush or redness, then avoid using that oil.

If your baby has eczema it is better to use his or her medical omollient cream or ointment.

Vegetable oils high in linoleic acid may be gentler on your baby’s skin.

Linoleic acid is an essential fatty acid that helps to protect the barrier element of the baby’s skin.

Vegetable oils that that usually contain a high proportion of Linoleic acid include:

  • sunflower oil

  • grape seed oil

Oleic acid can make some layers more permeable, which helps oil and water to be absorbed into the baby’s skin, but it can mean that oil and water are lost, rather than trapped in, which causes dry skin.

Example of such oil is:

  • olive oil

  • high-oleic sunflower seed oil

Unfortunately, labels on vegetable oils don't tend to list the oleic or linoleic acid content, but they list the proportions of polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats. As a general guide:

  • Vegetable oils that are higher in linoleic acid are higher in polyunsaturated fats.

  • Vegetable oils that are higher in oleic acid are higher in monounsaturated fats.

Almond oil

  • One of the most popular massage oils among massage therapist

  • Almond oil does not treat skin diseases completely, but reduces skin inflammation and heals skin cells

  • The fatty acids and vitamin A and E helps to repair dry skin

Coconut oil

  • Anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties

  • Not good for people with coconut allergies (and possibly latex allergies)

  • Improved skin barrier function

  • Better weight gain

Sunflower oil

  • Light, non-greasy oil which will not leave skin feeling oily.

  • Rich in linoleic acid, palmic acid, and stearic acid (component of healthy skin)

  • Vitamin E and fatty acids which help nourish the skin

  • Can go rancid quickly so store in dark, cool area. By placing vitamin E into the bottle will prolong its freshness

Mineral oils or petroleum-based ointments

  • Good for premature baby

  • Helps to seal moisture

  • Improve skin barrier function

  • Works well after a bath on a damp skin

Commercially sold massage oils

  • Many on the market which are safe to use

  • Always check the ingredients and the age suitability

Oils to avoid

  • Mustard oil

  • Unrefined peanut oil

  • Aqueous cream (contains sodium lauryl sulphate)

  • Essential oils for baby younger than 3 months

Essential oils

  • Not suitable for babies bellow 3 months of age

  • Up to 2 years of age put 5 drops of essential oil into 30 ml of carrier oil

  • After 2 years of age 10 drops of essential oil into 30 ml of carrier oil

  • Lavender and chamomile essential oils are most suitable for babies

  • Do not use Eucalyptus or rosemary oil on children bellow 10 years of age

  • Never apply essential oil on baby’s hands, face or near the eyes

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