Knowing what ingredients are good for your baby's skin or whether you should put anything on your baby's skin at all can be stressful to figure out. If you're not sure about what oil to use for baby massage, or if you're wondering how to treat your baby's dry skin, a Certified Infant Massage Instructor or Paediatric Massage Consultant can help.
Some specialists and health workers are currently advising against the use of any oil which is based on an edible food as research has shown that this can cause sensitisation to that food item in later life. While this is one train of though, some allergy experts are suggesting the opposite.
There is a growing body of evidence that early introduction of any potential allergens can be beneficial in preventing allergies in the first place and that delaying introduction might contribute to allergies.
Some professionals discredit all natural oils because of a study showing olive oil damages the natural skin barrier and causes or exacerbates eczema and the Infant Massage Information Service warns that parents should avoid using olive oil on babies skin. Unfortunately, when this research was released showing that olive oil damaged the skin, some people 'threw the baby out with the bathwater' so to speak, advising that no natural oils should be used.
Another natural oil is proving to be especially beneficial for the skin however. Research on sesame oil shows that it does not damage the natural protective barrier of the skin, on the contrary, it can help to build and repair it, helping to ensure optimal moisture retention in the skin. If using sesame oil on your baby's skin, it's vital to ensure you're using a cold pressed, organic product as opposed to cooking sesame oil from the supermarket. The Australian National Allergy Strategy notes that some research has shown that babies with eczema can develop a food allergy if the food comes into contact with their skin. They also note however that when the skin of babies with eczema is well managaed, the skin barrier is stronger and food coming into contact with the skin is less likely to cause a problems.
Strengthening and protecting the skin's natural barrier is important for a number of reasons, one of which is to decrease the likelihood of eczema and allergies. All oils recommended by the Infant Massage Information Service and their Certified Infant Massage Instructors and Paediatric Massage Consultants, nourish, strengthen, protect and repair the skin's natural barrier and as such shoudl help prevent future allergies as opposed to instigating them.
Conducting a patch test prior to using a product for massage and then using the product only if there is no adverse reaction is preferable to giving a baby a product to directly ingest in larger quantites later on, considering that gradual, small amounts of any product used for massage are ingested when a baby puts their hands (and feet) in their mouth during massage time. The introduction of these tiny quantities during massage time may help to prevent future allergies.
There's no denying that there are opposing views on this subject and it's important that parents receive object information on differing views and recommendations. At present, the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne is advocating against the use of food based products while at the same time King Edward Memorial Hospital in WA is conducting research on applyling coconut oil on the skin of extremley premature infants with the hope of reducing sepsis.
Selecting any product to use on your baby's skin is a personal choice and it's important that you do what you feel is best for your baby.