Baby massage oils and techniques are great to help develop your baby’s senses and bring you closer together.
Generally, baby massage oils and products are relatively inexpensive and a little should go a long way. Before investing, consider your child’s skin concerns, especially if they have baby eczema or are prone to sensitivity. Patch testing a tiny amount of a new product first can keep any potential adverse reactions to a minimum. Also remember that not all baby oils available have been designed with massage in mind, and may therefore be too absorbent to be effective in this scenario.
How early you begin massaging your baby will depend on your unique circumstances, but if possible, Emma Nash, founder of baby care brand Tiddley Pom recommends starting as soon as possible.“You can start massaging from birth, but very gently. As the baby grows you can increase your pressure but at the beginning be exceptionally gentle – more like strokes than pressure moves.” One thing to bear in mind is that NHS guidance states, “Avoid using any oils or lotions until your baby is at least a month old,” which may impact your decision on when to begin baby massage.
In order for both parent and baby to fully reap the relaxing benefits of baby massage techniques, there are times when it should be avoided. Emma says, “You should not massage a baby if they are agitated, have a temperature, look or feel unwell. Your baby should be calm and relaxed. If they are full of energy and cannot settle then it’s best left until another time.”
Most baby massage oils you can buy will be formulated with a blend of oils, but you can always pick and choose between those with specific ingredients depending on your tastes and your baby’s needs. These include coconut, rosehip and jojoba oils. “Always buy organic if possible, but definitely cold-pressed,” adds Emma.
Best baby massage oil products
To make navigating the shelves that bit easier, we’ve rounded up the very best baby massage products:
1. Little Siberica Baby Massage Oil
Part of Natura Siberica’s dedicated baby range, this oil has been certified organic. The product description advises that you only need to use a single drop at a time, so one bottle should last for ages.
2. Neal’s Yard Organic Baby Massage Oil
A trusted brand as well known for their quality ingredients as for their soothing scents, it’s no surprise that Neal’s Yard’s Organic Baby Massage Oil is 100 per cent organic and hypoallergenic. One reviewer said, “I grew up with my mum using NY products, and the scent of this oil sent me back down memory lane. Beautiful scent. Beautiful feel.”
3. Cowshed Baby Rich Massage Oil
Coax your baby into a relaxing sleep with the help of this moisturising oil. The blend of soothing chamomile, lavender creates a relaxing environment, while meadowfoam oil moisturises.
4. Weleda Calendula Baby Oil
Calendula is well-known for its gentle approach to skin and body care, making it the perfect choice for your baby’s delicate skin. “I’ve been using this product for 4 years now, with my first son and now newborn. Excellent oil for massaging and moisturising,” says one Boots reviewer.
5. Johnson’s Baby Bedtime Oil
Rituals and routine will help your baby to settle, and a nightly massage is a brilliant way to signify the end of the day. Johnson designed this oil for that very reason, and made sure it was tested with baby experts before bringing it to market.
6. Tiddley Pom Natural body and Massage Oil
One for the eco-conscious shoppers, this comes in an aluminium bottle, with a choice of a reusable pump or screw top for refills. We’d recommend the pump, to minimise the risk of spills.
7. Child’s Farm Baby Oil
If you’re worried about your baby feeling greasy after their massage, this lightweight oil is a good choice. One happy customer commented, “Lovely on skin not sticky or too oily. Smells amazing too.”
8. Green People Organic Babies Nurturing Body Oil
We love a multi-tasker, and this oil can be used both on growing bumps and new arrivals. It’s free from fragrance, which will not only help with pregnancy nausea, but avoid unsettling your baby too.
9. Kokoso Baby Coconut Oil
More research is needed into the efficacy of coconut oil on babies’ skin but this mums’ favourite is dermatologically tested and suitable for sensitive and newborn skin. This air-light oil absorbs beautifully and can be used as a massage oil, nappy balm or even aftersun on adult skin.
10. Tisserand Sweet Almond Oil
Research from 2020 found that using almond oil on premature babies had a positive effect on the skin’s strength without instigating any kind of reaction or side effects. Loaded with vitamins, minerals and fatty acids, sweet almond oil is also safe to ingest so should one of those cute baby hands end up in the mouth, you know everything’s okay.
11. The Jojoba Company 100% Natural Australian Jojoba Oil
With high levels of vitamin E, jojoba oil is a great choice for little ones with sensitive and eczema-prone skin as it has a healing effect. It supports and balances the skin’s natural oils, providing a soothing and nourishing effect.
12. PraNaturals 100% Organic Pure Shea Butter
We all know about the benefits of shea butter on adult skin (it’s in everything from lip balms to body butters) but what about for baby? This natural moisturiser, derived from a tree nut, is totally safe and extremely nourishing for baby’s skin, which tends to be on the dry side. Look for pure, 100% organic shea butter, free from perfumes and additives, to use for baby massage.
13. Balmonds Chamomile Baby Oil
Enriched with chamomile, lavender and safflower, this oil is suitable for babies from six weeks. Chamomile lotion too is calming on irritable skin, eczema and nappy rash.
14. Fushi Organic Rosehip Oil
Rosehip oil is known to sate redness and irritation so it’s great when baby has a touch of nappy rash or even eczema. It’s high in vitamins A and E and helps to build and strengthen your baby’s delicate skin.
15. Alucia Organics Certified Organic Borage Seed Oil
Borage seed oil, sometimes referred to as Starflower oil, can be used on eczema-prone skin and is high in essential fatty acids, one of which is called Linolenic acid, and is important to healing baby’s skin.
Baby massage oils to avoid
Whilst baby massage is a wonderful activity for parents and babies, it can be mind-boggling to know which oils are safe and which ones are not for baby’s delicate skin. Here are some baby massage oils to steer clear of.
- Peanut oil – “There is some debate regarding the use of groundnut oil (also known as peanut or arachis oil),” explains Karen Pett, Specialist Dermatology Nurse at West Hertfordshire NHS Trust. “Although refined peanut oil, as opposed to crude peanut oil, is generally considered safe, we advise anyone with a peanut allergy to avoid products that contain it, including oils, moisturisers and some shampoo.”
- Olive oil – This type of oil has a high oleic acid content, which is a type of fatty acid. Used as a massage oil, it can actually make your baby’s skin drier.
- Mustard oil – This has been found to cause irritation to the delicate skin, and actually has a toxic effect on the skin barrier, which is crucial to healthy skin, keeping the bad stuff out and the good stuff locked in.
Essential oils may be suitable in some cases, but as they are concentrated and very strong, they will need to be heavily diluted first. In fact, we’d tend to advise steering clear altogether and purchasing a pre-blended oil instead.
If you’re nervous about using any of these on your baby, particularly if your child has sensitive skin, go with a dermatologist or doctor-approved product instead. “My main advice for babies suffering with dry or eczema-prone skin would be to avoid products with fragrance and use an approved product like Epaderm Junior Cream, £3.49,” suggests Karen Pett.