It is traditional to massage a baby after his bath. In many families oils are preferred over creams and lotions. Some experts recommend using a vegetable (unrefined oil) or plant oil. They absorb quickly and digest easily if your baby sucks his oil-smeared thumb. Some people prefer branded mineral based baby massage oils as they can help to seal and trap moisture. However these oils may clog pores as they don’t penetrate the skin as easily. Clogged pores can lead to skin infections.
In summers, Coconut oil can be a good choice; it is easily available and has a cooling effect on the body. Olive oil and almond oil are more expensive than vegetable oil they work well in hot or cold weather.
Mustard oil is preferred for giving massages in cold weather as it warms the body. In the northern and eastern parts of the country, mustard oil (sarson ka tel) is heated with a few garlic cloves and fenugreek (methi) seeds. Garlic has antiviral and anti-bacterial properties, and is believed to boost the immune system.
What not to use? If possible, try not to massage your baby with desi ghee as it is too greasy and can clog your baby’s pores. It’s also best to avoid massaging your baby with fresh cream (malai ), gram flour (besan) and turmeric (haldi). These may irritate your baby’s skin and cause rashes. Using raw milk may also not be a good idea as there’s a risk of infections. Aromatherapy oils are too strong and are usually unsuitable for your baby’s sensitive skin.
Sensitive skin: If your baby has sensitive skin, eczema or broken skin, it’s best not to use vegetable oils like olive oil or high-oleic sunflower oil. Vegetable oils that are higher in linoleic acid are better for sensitive skin. If you aren’t sure about which massage oil to use, speak to your doctor. He may suggest a perfume-free mineral based oil or lotion.
Keep in mind:
1. Stick to reputed brands with ISI and AGMARK certification, when buying massage oils for your baby. Loosely sold or unbranded oils can give your baby skin infections. If your baby accidentally ingests such oils, it may cause stomach poisoning.
2. Don’t put any oil in your baby’s nose, navel or ears. Although it is a common practice.
3. Ensure the place where you massage your baby is warm and comfortable and safe from cool draughts.
4. Remove any bangles and rings that you may be wearing. They could hurt your baby.