Infant Massage: Coconut Oil and Lotion

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Do I need to massage my baby with oil or lotion?

You do not have to use oil or lotion to massage your baby. If you choose to use these products, it can help make the massage strokes feel soft and smooth for your baby.

Can I use lotion or oil if my baby has a central line?

If your baby has a central line and requires chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) baths, you will need to use the hospital-approved lotion. This lotion will not get in the way of the germ-fighting properties of the CHG bath.

If your baby does not have a central line, you can use lotion or coconut oil.

What are the benefits of coconut oil?

Coconut oil helps the massage strokes feel soft and smooth. Benefits of using coconut include:

  • Improved skin condition
  • Fewer infections
  • Possible weight gain in preterm infants

Are there any risks of using coconut oil?

We do not know if there are any risks. No studies have been published that show any side effects from coconut oil. There is a small risk that your baby can develop a coconut allergy; however, this is unlikely since there are no proteins in the oil.

Can I use other oils or lotions on my baby’s skin?

If your baby is in the hospital and you want to use another product other than the hospital lotion or coconut oil, check with your baby’s healthcare provider. Your baby’s skin is still developing and is sensitive to everything it touches. If you choose oil, it is important to use an edible vegetable or food-based oil. Some examples of these oils include sunflower, almond, grapeseed, coconut, olive, and safflower oil. Do not use “baby oil” or mineral oil. Research has shown that it is not good for your baby’s skin. Jojoba oil and Vaseline are also not recommended.

If you choose to lotion, it should be unscented. Do not apply it to hands and feet. Babies like to put hands and feet in their mouths.

Before using oil or lotion:

Test the oil or lotion on a small area of your baby’s skin.

  • Place a small drop on the baby’s arm or leg.  
  • Watch for skin irritation (redness and swelling) for 24 hours before use.
  • Do not use the product if you see a reaction.

Can I use essential oils on my baby’s skin?

Essential oils (such as lavender) are concentrated and if used incorrectly, can be dangerous. Do not use on infants less than 12 months of age. This is due to the baby’s inability to process the oil.

If you have any questions, contact Integrative Health at

Additional resources

November 2022