While fragrances and essential oils help create a relaxing environment and add to the benefits of massage in adults, fragrances should be avoided in baby massage, particularly when massaging new-borns.
Babies’ senses are far more responsive than those of adults. What might be a pleasant aroma for Mum or Dad can be overwhelming to a baby, especially when applied over his entire body.
In addition, more ingredients in baby massage oil give more opportunity for an allergic reaction. With multiple ingredients in a massage oil, tracking down the culprit allergen is more difficult.
New-borns rely on all their senses to bond with their parents. Baby massage takes advantage of this by using touch to develop and cement parent-child bonds. Adding an outside fragrance to the massage time can hinder scent’s contribution to bonding, as it overwhelms the parents’ natural odour. The fragrance will also mask the baby’s odour to the parents.
Once the parent-child bond is established and babies start losing some of their sensitivities, around six months of age, parents may safely begin to incorporate aromas into the baby and child massage session. When introducing a new fragrance, parents should pay attention to the baby’s reaction and whether he seems to enjoy the new scent.
Added scents can mask the ‘off’ odour of rancid oil, so parents should be extra vigilant about expiry dates on oils that have fragrances mixed in, whether purchased or mixed at home.