A Baby’s First Massage

Baby massage begins in the womb.

Baby massage first begins in the womb and is intensified during birth. The strong contractions of the womb massage the baby and stimulate the nervous system and organs, encouraging circulation and muscle development for life outside the uterus. The vernix caseosa, the white greasy substance covering the baby’s skin, is moisturising and protects the baby’s in the womb. It is rich in vitamin K and is regarded as the “ultimate massage oil”. Many tribal cultures leave the vernix on the newborn for two or three days before washing the baby by hand using only warm water. A natural oil is then applied to moisturise the delicate skin. Some hospitals recognise the benefits of the vernix and do not remove it immediately. It is thought that leaving it on for as long as possible reduces the incidence of your baby developing skin infections.

Massage can be done by both the mother and father and provides a unique opportunity to bond with your newborn. In your baby’s first few months, you will have a lot of hands-on contact. Wherever possible, introduce light stroking, with or without oil or lotion. It is a natural instinct to stroke your baby and your baby will love it. In the bath, use a natural baby wash or an oil blend as if lathering your baby. (Always keep products away from your baby’s eyes as it can affect your baby’s vision and may sting).
Pat dry with a warm, soft muslin swaddle cloth.

Oil Blends

A baby’s skin is more receptive than a mature adult skin. Therefore care must be taken in choosing what to apply to your newborn’s skin. Only pure, preferably organic, preparations should be used. Always read the label, as many commercial baby oils are mineral-based and contain derivatives of crude petroleum. These tend to block pores and inhibiting the natural secretions of the glands that keep the skin balanced, waterproof and resilient. Much commercial talcum powder contains metals, so use a product that has a natural base.

Try these base oils:


Light, non-greasy fruit oil, free of scent, grapeseed oil is easily absorbed, inexpensive and available in most health shops and supermarkets.

Sweet Almond

A nut oil, light with a mild fragrance.

Coconut Oil

Native to Polynesia and Malaysia, the coconut palm produces a light nut oil with a mild fragrance. It solidifies when cooled but readily melts in a hot hand.

These base oils are edible and therefore safe when your baby puts its hands to its mouth during the massage.

Skin Test

Always test first. Applying the oil blend to a small area and leaving it for an hour easily does this. A reaction will produce red blotching or small bumps that will disappear again within a few hours. If this occurs, choose another oil or blend.

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