Soothing a fussing baby with touch is an instinct which comes naturally to most parents. So, it might not be a surprise to learn that baby massage is far from a new concept, with early documentation dating back to around 2760BC in ancient China.1
Now, however, there is a growing interest in baby massage among modern mums due to the host of benefits it’s now known to offer both mother and baby, such as:
1. It helps calm colicky babies
Baby massage is so good for soothing some fussy or crying babies that the NHS recommends it to new mothers.2
2. It helps with bonding
Baby massage helps to strengthen the bond between mother and baby. In one study, one group of babies received a 15-minute daily massage session with their mother for 38 days, while the other group of babies received normal nurturing and care without massage.
Mums and babies who participated in the daily massage reported significantly greater levels of maternal attachment after the test period was over than those who didn’t participate.3
3. It can help promote baby’s digestion
Massaging the abdomen in a clockwise motion follows the natural direction of the digestive tract and can help promote digestion.
Motions which include pressing the baby’s knees together against the tummy and ‘bicycling’ the legs are very effective at encouraging the release of gas.
Baby massage is easier and more effective when an oil is used. Using oil allows your hand to better glide over their delicate skin without causing friction which could be uncomfortable for them.
Wondering what oil to use for baby massage?
The best baby massage oil is one that is non-greasy, nourishing and full of skin-loving vitamins. Some household oils are fine – for instance you can use coconut oil for baby massage, but avoid olive oil as this has been found to leave a baby’s skin drier due to its high oleic acid content.4 Other oils to avoid include mustard oil or peanut oil, as these are common allergens.
Treat yourself and your baby to a specially formulated blend designed for baby’s delicate skin.
Here are our top picks of the best baby oils:
This gentle oil contains a blend of sweet almond oil, rosehip oil, grapeseed oil and apricot kernel oil. It’s packed with vitamin E, known for its skin-soothing properties.
This fragrance-free, organic sunflower oil comes with naturally derived vitamins, gamma linoleic acid, omega 6 and other fatty acids essential for healthy skin.
The spray bottle means less wastage, too, as you can spritz a little at a time into your hands and there’s no risk of it spilling if baby knocks it over.
This nourishing oil blend includes sweet almond oil and lemon oil, both rich in vitamin E. It has an uplifting citrus scent to help boost your mood as you bond with your baby during a massage session.
This oil is designed to be used by mums, too, and might help minimise the appearance of stretch marks if used daily throughout pregnancy.
This mild oil is specially formulated for use on newborns. A blend of organic rosehip oil, organic primrose oil and wild harvested seed oils, just a drop is enough for a full body massage on a newborn.
Like all good massage oils, this is non-greasy. You’ll find nourishing ingredients like organic lavender, chamomile & safflower in this oil.
Avoid using any oils or lotions until your baby’s at least a month old, some parents prefer to wait until after the 6-week check-up. However, if in doubt always consult a healthcare professional.
Last updated: 29th September 2020