Massaging a newborn baby, till atleast his first birthday is known to have many therapeutic and physical benefits for the baby. And what can be a better oil to start the massage other than the ages-old mustard oil, commonly known as sarson ka tel? With a pungent smell, warm aftertouch, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, mustard oil has been the traditional choice of Indian mothers to kickstart their baby’s massage. Using mustard oil for baby massage is known to have many health and therapeutic benefits too.
I recommend it too. And not because it is a centuries’ old oil – but because it has been the traditional oil for massaging a baby. Let us discuss the same in this article.
12 benefits of massaging the baby with mustard oil
The pungent and strong smell of mustard oil may put you off and you may not want to use it for your baby’s massage. However, this pungency is actually the reason why mustard oil is vouched by almost everyone for its many uses- for skin, hair, bug bites and even cooking. Sarson ka tel has been associated with many health benefits, and is used incessantly in the northern hills where the climate is cold, and other oils like coconut oil get frozen. To infants, mustard oil massage offers the following benefits –
1. Mustard oil for cold and cough in infants
If you have a winter baby or your baby has caught cold, a massage with warm mustard oil infused with garlic and ajwain seeds works as a wonderful natural remedy to combat the same. Warm some mustard oil with a few cloves of garlic and ajwain seeds and let them turn black. Once comfortable to touch, strain the mixture and massage your baby generously with this oil.
Your baby will be visibly relieved of the cold and congestion will be cleared. If your baby has fever or symptoms of fever, you will notice considerable improvement.
2. Mustard oil for baby hair
Some babies are not born with a full head, and mothers keep on worrying about the sparse hair growth! While babies do grow full hair later, if you really want to expedite the process and want your baby to have black and shiny hair, massage the scalp with lukewarm mustard oil. Not only will it stimulate hair growth but also make the scalp healthy.
3. Treat cradle cap
A dry scalp can present conditions like cradle cap in babies. The crusty, oily patches on the scalp can be effectively treated with mustard oil massage alongwith washing the baby’s head with prescribed gentle shampoo. Mustard oil soothes the dry skin, encourages blood circulation and moisturises the scalp well.
4. Strong bones with mustard oil
To strengthen your baby’s bones, massage your baby twice daily with lukewarm mustard oil. Mustard oil has properties that help your baby’s bones gain strength and develop muscles. By massaging, the blood circulation too gets increased, and as you massage, the bones and joints get a workout that ultimately help them to gain strength and agility.
5. Benefit from anti-fungal properties
Any fungal infection can be effectively treated by massaging some mustard oil on the affected area. Fungal infections in small babies can be quite a serious issue. Just make sure your little one gets his daily massage with warm mustard oil and you will be able to keep infections at a bay.
6. Use as an insect and bug repellent
Mustard oil has a very pungent smell, and it is been traditionally used to ward off bugs and mosquitoes. By massaging your baby with mustard oil, his skin will get the protective layer and repel bugs, mosquitoes and insects. Mustard oil is a preferred way to protect babies from mosquito bites because it is completely natural and much better than synthetic creams or lotions laced with chemicals and pesticides.
7. Mustard oil as a skin moisturiser
As a baby’s skin gets exposed to air and dry weather outside the womb, it also tends to get dry and flaky. Massaging a baby with an oil that moisturises the skin from within makes sure that the skin gets hydrated and stays soft and supple. Mustard oil with so many other medicinal properties helps to keep the baby’s skin soft, moisturised, supple and healthy.
8. Get relief from asthma and respiratory diseases
Asthma and other respiratory problems can be effectively treated with a massage of mustard oil. To make it effective for respiratory issues, just mix some camphor in a spoonful of oil and heat. Once lukewarm, massage your baby’s chest with this mixture. Soon, you will notice your baby getting relieved from symptoms of asthma.
9. Treat rashes and infections
All of us mothers deal with diaper rashes, one way of the other. Diaper rashes are the result of friction between the diaper and the skin. Sometimes, rashes appear because of the skin’s contact with poo/pee for longer duration. Using mustard oil will not only help heal rashes quickly, but also fight any bacteria that may be left over.
10. Mustard oil helps retain body warmth
Small babies do not know how to regulate their body temperatures. In colder regions, mustard oil can help the babies stay warm for longer, since the oil has warming properties. Moreover, it soaks slowly in the skin, making the body retain the warmth longer. Most people living in hilly areas swear by the benefits of massaging babies with mustard oil.
11. Mustard oil for baby massage in summers
If you thought massaging your baby with mustard oil is a good idea only if you do so in winters, you are wrong. Mustard oil has the unique property of opening sweat pores and thus help perspiration. This helps the body to flush toxins through sweat, making your baby feel cool and free from any waste products.
12. Ease of availability
Using mustard oil for massaging your baby is also beneficial in the sense that it is readily available, all through the length and breadth of the country and is priced economically. Some oils like olive and almond can be pretty heavy on the pocket, but mustard oil fits the bill well.
Side-effects of mustard oil for baby massage
Although mustard oil has many benefits when it comes to massaging a baby, I will also highlight some side-effects of the same.
1. Mustard oil can cause skin irritation
If your baby has a very sensitive skin, it may get irritated when it comes in contact with mustard oil. If you notice any redness, rashes or any other allergic reaction on your baby’s skin, discontinue the use of mustard oil and seek your baby’s doctor advice.
2. Can clog the pores
Mustard oil is a sticky and heavy oil that does not get absorbed by the skin easily. Topical application for a long time can clog the pores and make dirt and mirth accumulate. This may further cause eruptions on the skin. After massaging the baby, make sure you give your baby a warm bath to get rid of excess oil from the skin.
3. Can cause skin dehydration
Because mustard oil opens the sweat pores, sometimes in babies with sensitive skin, it can disrupt the skin barrier and increase loss of water through sweat pores. Keep a close watch on your baby’s skin and if you feel the skin is not reacting well to mustard oil, discontinue the use.
Does massaging with mustard oil make the skin dark?
It is believed that mustard oil can darken a baby’s skin and sometimes avoided for massaging. This is not true. Mustard oil, infact has beauty benefits and may actually help lighten the skin. Skin colour is all a play of genes, so do not hesitate to use good quality mustard oil to massage your baby.
Overall, massaging your baby with mustard oil has many benefits and it scores pretty well over other oils. However, we cannot ignore the fact that all babies have different needs and different skin. As a mother, you want the best for your child, so do keep a close watch on your baby’s skin and take the call accordingly.