Is Mustard Oil Good For Newborn Baby Massage

Though most babies have soft and sensitive skin, some babies have more sensitive skin than others, and massaging such babies with mustard oil may cause various skin allergies and reactions. Abstain from using mustard oil for massaging your baby, in case he has hypersensitive skin.

If you have a newborn baby with sensitive skin, you must avoid the use of mustard oil. Though most babies have soft and sensitive skin, some babies have more sensitive skin than others, and massaging such babies with mustard oil may cause various skin allergies and reactions.

Most babies do not have hypersensitive skin. However, some baby’s skin is more sensitive than others. Abstain from using mustard oil for massaging your baby if he has hypersensitive skin

Caution is the word when it comes to using mustard oil for massaging your baby. Though there are no serious side effects of mustard oil, some babies develop allergic reactions on being massaged with this oil. If you happen to have such a baby, abstain from using mustard oil for his massage purpose.

Mustard oil is often used as a carrier oil in baby massage. However, as all babies have different skin types and reactions, it’s best to check with your pediatrician and see what’s best for your baby.

Mustard oil is great for massaging newborn babies. It increases the circulation of blood in the body, thus helping to relax the muscles. It also relieves stress from your mind and body, which are essential for a happy and healthy baby

Does Mustard Oil Make Baby Skin Dark

Mustard oil massage of newborns is an integral component of traditional care practices in many communities. Recent evidence suggests that this practice may have detrimental effects, particularly for preterm infants or for those whose skin barrier function is otherwise sub-optimal. Other natural oils such as sunflower, sesame or safflower seed oil may have a beneficial impact on newborn health and survival. Little is known, however, about cultural and other factors related to the acceptance and uptake of alternative, more beneficial oils for massage of the newborn. A questionnaire concerning the usage and reasons for application of mustard and other oils to newborn skin was administered to the caretakers of 8580 newborns in Sarlahi district of rural Nepal. Four focus group discussions among representative groups were conducted to describe the perceived benefits of oil massage and the factors involved in the decision to apply oil. The potential for the introduction of alternative natural oils was explored. Approximately 99 per cent of newborns were massaged at least once with mustard oil in the 2 weeks after birth, and 80 per cent were massaged at least twice daily. Promotion of strength, maintenance of health, and provision of warmth were the most commonly cited reasons for application of mustard oil. Focus group discussion participants noted that smell, oiliness, mode of pre-massage preparation, and perceived absorptive potential on the skin are important contextual factors involved in the practice. Caretakers are willing to consider adaptation of established traditions for the promotion of positive health outcomes if essential contextual criteria are met. An understanding of cultural, social, and economic factors that shape the context of traditional healthcare practices is essential to the design and implementation of intervention trials examining the relative efficacy of application of oils in reducing neonatal mortality and morbidity.


Of the approximately four million global neonatal deaths that occur annually, 98 per cent occur in developing countries, predominately in the home.1,2 As most births and deaths occur outside any established healthcare facility, reduction in neonatal mortality may depend significantly on interventions involving promotion or adaptation of traditional care behaviors practised in the home. Feeding of colostrum, timing of initiation and duration of breastfeeding, umbilical cord care, and measures taken to prevent hypothermia of the newborn are important factors in health and survival during the neonatal period. Practices further removed from the immediate delivery and postpartum period have received less attention.

A common practice established in many communities, particularly throughout the Asian subcontinent is traditional oil massage.35 While strong traditional practices, such as frequent application of natural oils to the newborn skin, presumably evolved due to perceived benefits, little has been documented concerning the actual benefits or detriments of this practice. Benefits may include improved skin condition, prevention of skin injury and skin infection, improved thermoregulation due to decreased transepidermal water loss, absorption of essential lipids, and enhanced maternal–infant bonding with repetitive tactile stimulation.68 A study of four different oils (herbal, mustard, sesame, and mineral) compared with a non-treated control group demonstrated that sesame oil improved sleep patterns and growth (length, mid-arm, and mid-leg circumference) in 2-month-old infants.3

Evidence also suggests, however, that application of certain oils may have detrimental effects.9 In addition to composition of the oil, newborn skin integrity and permeability, determined in part by baseline nutritional status and gestational age, play significant roles. A recent investigation of the impact of oil application on epidermal barrier function in a mouse model demonstrated that twice-daily mustard oil applications led to elevated rates of transepidermal water loss, delayed recovery of skin-barrier function, and structural changes in epidermal keratinocytes, indicative of stress and toxicity, compared with Aquaphor-treated and untreated controls.9 Improved skin-barrier function, including reduced rates of transepidermal water loss, was observed in the group receiving sunflower seed oil applications, indicating that varying effects of specific fatty acids on structural integrity of the skin barrier may be an important factor in predilection for hypothermia, and risk of invasive infections.911 Among preterm infants in Egypt, risk of invasive nosocomial infection was reduced by 48 per cent in infants who received oil massage with sunflower seed oil compared with controls.12

A prospective, community-based, randomized trial comparing topical oil applications to the skin of newborns is needed to examine the role of different oils in prevention of invasive infections, risk of hypothermia, and neonatal mortality. As the practice of using oil applications is fully ingrained in the cultural traditions of many communities, understanding the behavioral factors underlying this practice is essential to the design of an effective intervention trial. In Nepal, where approximately 90 per cent of births occur at home,13 the use of mustard oil in newborn massage14 and in application to the cut umbilical cord is common practice in many communities.15 This investigation was designed to examine those socio-cultural and behavioral factors that would be essential to consider within the design of an intervention trial to determine the impact of behavior change to modify and enhance the benefits of newborn oil massage.

Materials and Methods

Both quantitative and qualitative methodologies were utilized to collect information on the prevalence, frequency, duration, and reasons for mustard oil or other oil applications to the skin of newborns in Sarlahi district of southeastern Nepal. The sample for the quantitative study was drawn from those newborns enrolled in an ongoing study of umbilical and skin cleansing with antiseptics. In that trial, pregnant women were enrolled in the third trimester and notification of outcome soon after delivery led to multiple follow-up visits to the newborn in the first 28 days after birth. Among 8706 infants enrolled between September 2002 and December 2003, information concerning oil massage and application to the umbilical cord at the time of birth was collected on 7951 (91.3 per cent) infants. Information on traditional newborn care practices during the first 2 weeks of life was collected from the mothers of 8580 (98.6 per cent) of the enrolled infants.

Qualitative data collection in December 2003 included four focus group discussions (FGD) among women from various representative groups. Selection of the groups was based on the major demographic trends of women enrolled in the trial, including caste and ecological zone of origin [hill or plains (terai)]. Approximately 71 per cent of the study population originate from the terai, with the major caste groups including Vaiysha (70 per cent), Sudra (16 per cent), and Muslim (13 per cent). The remaining 29 per cent of the population originate from hill regions of Nepal, and consist of Vaiysha (50 per cent), Chhetri (20 per cent), Brahmin (20 per cent), and Sudra (10 per cent). The first FGD conducted (FGD1) included 11 women of Brahmin and Chhetri caste, originating from the hills. The second (FGD2) included seven women of non-Muslim terai origin, predominately from the Vaiysha caste. The third group (FGD3) included six women and one man of a Muslim terai community. The final group (FGD4) included 14 women members of the study team from a Brahmin and Chhetri-dominated community originating from the hills. Focus group discussions were conducted following an outline of major topics, including type and common usage of oils; reasons for applications; timing, frequency, and duration of oil massage in newborns; discussion of advantages and disadvantages of different oils and perceived benefits of oil massage for newborns; and factors important in the selection of massage oil. FGD1 and FGD4 were conducted in the Nepali language while FGD2 and FGD3 were conducted in Maitili and translated on-site into Nepali. Transcription and translation was conducted by one of the authors and a field co-ordinator based in Sarlahi. Transcripts were analyzed for predominant attitudes and practices related to oil application practices. Informal discussions and interviews were also conducted with key informants, such as shopkeepers and family members of study staff.

Which Oil is Good for Baby Massage

Massaging your baby with oil is extremely vital to strengthen their bones and stimulate blood circulation and you need to ensure you choose the perfect massage oil for the same. A gentle and tender massage with the right oil can work wonders for your little baby. Many mothers wonder if mustard oil for baby massage is safe or not. So here is everything you need to know about the wonderful benefits of mustard oil when used as massage oil for your little baby.
 Benefits Of Mustard Oil For Massaging Babies

In This Article

10 Wonderful Benefits of Using Mustard Oil for Baby Massage

Well now that you know how to use mustard oil for baby massage, it’s time you also realize the benefits of using the same on the infants:

1. Helps to Retain the Body’s Warmth

In cold areas, mustard oil is extremely beneficial to retain the warmth of the body. It acts as an excellent insulator as even a gentle massage with mustard oil seeps into the skin gradually.

2. Excellent for Massages

Massages are imperative for babies in order to fortify the baby’s bones and increase circulation of blood. Mustard oil is one of the most preferred baby oils for massage, thereby helping to strengthen your baby’s bones.

3. Good for Providing Relief From Asthma

Mustard oil has quite a strong smell and it has been found that this is quite effective to provide significant relief from asthmatic symptoms in babies. All you need to do is mix a small portion of camphor when heating a spoonful of mustard oil till lukewarm. Massaging the little one’s chest with this mixture provides excellent relief.

4. Quite Effective to Cure Cold and Cough Symptoms

Massaging your little darling with mustard oil has also been proven to cure cold and cough especially during the cold season. Heating the mustard oil till it get lukewarm and adding couple of garlic cloves before massaging your little one has been found to be quite effective in clearing nasal congestions and also providing relief from cold and cough.

5. Possesses Antibacterial Properties

Mustard oil has wonderful antibacterial properties also. This powerful oil is strong enough to destroy Salmonella Typhi (S.Typhi) and E coli bacteria. These bacteria are quite dangerous and are known to trigger all kinds of illnesses in human beings.
mustard oil for baby Massage

6. Have Antifungal Properties

Mustard oil also has been found to have wonderful anti fungal properties that makes it ideal for babies who are suffering from any kind of fungal infections.

7. Plays the Role of an Insect Repellent

It is common knowledge that mustard oil is pungent and has a strong odor that can actually repel insects and keep them at bay. This becomes an added advantage to ward off any kind of insects from biting your precious darling when you massage your baby with mustard oil. And since this is completely natural, it becomes all the more advantageous.

8. Helps to Open Sweat Pores

Massaging with mustard oil has been proven to open your baby’s sweat pores which can be quite a blessing during hot seasons. This property of the mustard oil help to ensure the baby sweats easily, thus lowering the quantity of toxins and waste products in the little one’s system.

9. Ideal for Combating Skin Infections

Massaging with mustard oil is a good remedy to combat all kinds of skin infections that babies normally face including antifungal or antibacterial in nature. Using this on a regular basis can surely help to reduce rashes or skin issues to a great extent in small babies.

10. Scalp Massage

Massaging your baby’s scalp with mustard oil helps to stimulate and promote hair growth in babies.

Ways to Use Mustard Oil for Baby Massage

infant getting massage

You are planning to give your little infant mustard oil massage but unsure how to do this? Then read on for tips about using mustard oil for infant massage:

  • It is an age- old practice to boil mustard oil. Once the oil cools down it is stored in a bottle and this boiled and cooled oil is then used regularly before bath to massage the baby’s body and head.
  • Some mothers believe that just warming up the required quantity of mustard oil before a massage is sufficient.
  • Adding ajwain seeds to the boiled mustard oil and then letting it cool and massaging the baby with this is also very beneficial for the infant.
  • Some mothers also like to massage their babies by dipping the raw garlic pods in the mustard oil.
  • During cold winter weather, adding a few basil leaves to the warm mustard oil is also a very popular practice.

Risks of Using Mustard Oil for Baby Massage

However, mustard oil does have some adverse effects that you need to be aware of before you start massaging your little one with it:

1. Can Cause Skin Damage

Mustard oil has some irritable properties that can trigger various skin issues on sensitive skins. Using it regularly for a massage for long periods can increase water loss of your baby’s skin causing- blisters on skin.

2. Can Trigger Allergic Reactions

Mustard oil can also trigger allergic symptoms in some babies. The main indicators of an allergic reaction to mustard oil include hives, cracked and dried skin, itchiness and redness.

3. Consult Your Doctor

Most importantly, you need to ask your pediatrician’s advice as to how good and safe massaging with mustard oil is before you begin with using it. Your doctor knows your baby the best and what exactly is beneficial or harmful for your little darling.

There are various oils available for massaging babies and choosing the best oil for your little one can be quite confusing. Mustard oil for infant massage is traditionally preferred in India over other oils and it is one of the best oils that you can pick to massage your baby with. However, it is always better to ask your baby’s doctor before fixing a particular baby massage oil.


1. Can I Give my 3 Month Old Mustard Oil Massage?

Consult your doctor first. This oil is generally considered safe. however, some babies might be very sensitive.

2. Can I Use Mustard Oil on my Baby’s Hair?

Yes, you can. It can promote hair growth. Gently massage the scalp with this oil.

3. Is Mustard Oil Safe for my Baby?

Yes it is. Many people use it for their babies. It can help keep with cold and fungal infections too.

4. What are the Side Effects of Using Mustard Oil on my Baby?

Some babies can be sensitive towards this oil. This can result in allergic reactions. In such a case, consult your doctor immediately.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *