The Best Oils For Giving Your Baby A Massage

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by Andrea Pyros

If you’re wondering what the best baby massage oils are, dermatologist Dr. Karan Lal, D.O., tells Romper that parents should look for food-grade oils, as they’re not toxic if accidentally ingested (because we cook with them). Dr. Lal suggests sunflower, grape seed, and coconut oils in particular, and advises avoiding aromatherapy oils and any massage oil with added fragrance, which he says can cause dryness and irritation. (“If it smells good— chances are it’s not good for your baby,” he says.) Also, avoid the eye area, and unless you’re using a food-grade oil, do a patch test on your baby’s upper inner arm and then wait 72 hours before using the oil all over them.

Though you should be cautious about the oil you use, Dr. Lal notes that massaging does have many benefits. Not only do oils moisturize skin (something babies need frequently, since they’re not born with a mature skin barrier), but they’re especially helpful while performing a massage since it reduces friction. “The benefit of massage in babies mimics the benefit in adults. Human touch releases hormones like oxytocin which promote relaxation in the provider and the person being touched,” Dr. Lal says. He adds, “I remember being a baby and young child and getting massages from my grandmother. In India, parents and grandparents massage their babies soon after birth.” So treat your little one to a safe and satisfying massage with any of the best massage oils for babies, ahead.

1. The Best Pure Coconut Oil

Like all of the oils on this list, Sky Organic’s coconut oil is made without any fragrance, additives, or preservatives — you’re just getting 100% pure coconut oil in this bottle. Unlike the coconut oil you’re used to using in your kitchen, which stays in solid form at room temp, this fractioned oil remains a liquid, which some people find easier to work with, particularly for massages. It comes in a 16-ounce bottle with a pump-top dispenser, another handy feature that makes it perfect for giving massages without spilling oil everywhere.

2. The Best Pure Sunflower Oil

If you prefer sunflower oil, pick up a bottle of Maple Holistics’ 100% pure helianthus annuus (aka sunflower) oil. It’s not only a soothing and effective moisturizer, but sunflower oil may even benefit children with eczema, since it can help soothe inflammation and strengthen the skin barrier. This comes in a smaller, 4-ounce bottle, so it may be more convenient for keeping in a diaper bag, but it doesn’t come with a pump-top dispenser.

3. The Best Pure Grapeseed Oil

Another pure, undiluted option is this cold-pressed grapeseed oil from Brooklyn Botany. This vitamin-rich, fragrance-free oil is a great choice for moisturizing skin without the risk of causing irritation. In fact, I was told to use food-grade grapeseed oil when cooking for my food-allergic kid, because it’s typically well-tolerated even by people with serious skin sensitivities and food allergies. Antioxidant-rich grapeseed oil has plenty of other benefits, as well; like sunflower oil, it may too help calm skin inflammation, and also has anti-microbial properties. You’ll get 16 ounces of oil in this bottle complete with one of those handy, pump-top dispensers.

4. The Best Oil Blend For Babies

Coconut Essential’s Coconut Baby is a blend of all of Dr. Lal’s greatest hits: coconut oil, sunflower oil, and grapeseed oil, making this a great, nourishing option for babies’ dry, delicate skin. It contains nothing else, though — no fragrance, fillers, or preservatives. This product will solidify at lower temps, so you’ll have to scoop this out of the tub rather than pump or pour it out.

5. The Best Certified-Organic Oil Blend

Another great choice for diaper bags, The Honest Company’s Organic Body Oil is a nice, lightweight blend of sunflower, coconut, olive, jojoba, and avocado oils, as well as gentle botanical extracts like calendula and chamomile. Because this absorbs so quickly, it’s also a good option for adults who want a post-shower moisturizer that won’t make them feel sticky or greasy. This blended oil has been certified-organic by the USDA, and contains no added fragrance or synthetic fillers. It comes in a convenient, pump-out bottle, which houses 4 ounces of product.

Also Consider

If you prefer to use a food-grade cooking oil (like this grapeseed oil or this sunflower seed oil) to massage your baby, pour it into a convenient, flip-top bottle instead of having a slippery glass bottle in their room. Keep one of these near their changing or bathing stations so you’ll always have some oil on hand for relaxation-inducing massages.


Dr. Karan Lal, D.O., dermatologist at UMass Memorial Medical Center and Marketing Committee Chair for the Society for Pediatric Dermatology