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An introduction to Ayurvedic baby massage : updated for 2020

This post was last updated on February 15, 2023 by Preethi Sukumaran

Are you worried about the carcinogens and suspicious synthetics in the baby care products you have been buying? Looking for a truly natural, genuine, safe Ayurvedic baby massage oil? Are you also looking for information to understand the benefits of an ayurvedic baby care routine? Read on, for a short introduction to the benefits of an Ayurvedic baby massage routine .

It’s not mild, its carcinogenic : why chemical baby products are toxic and un-safe

A Missouri based jury passed a verdict last year asking Johnson & Johnson to pay damages of 72 million dollars to the family of Jacqueline Fox. The jury concluded that her death by ovarian cancer was linked to her daily use (of over 30 years) of Johnsons baby powder and Shower to shower talcum powder.

A study by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics studied baby and children’s products for the presence of 2 chemicals – 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde. These 2 chemicals are probable human carcinogens formed as toxic by products when certain chemicals are present in a product. The research study showed that over 61% of the baby products surveyed contained these 2 chemicals in more than trace quantities.

1,4 dioxane is a by product formed when sulphates like SLeS (Sodium Laureth sulphate), polyethylene, polyethylene glycol , ceteareth, oleth, oxynol, -xynol, and PEG are present in products. A quick read of the back of label of many baby products would find many of these chemicals listed in your baby’s “gentle shampoo” or “mild bodywash”.

Therefore most chemical baby products are un-safe, toxic and dangerous to use on everyone, especially vulnerable babies.

Why is your baby’s skin so vulnerable to chemicals?

Human skin is the largest sense organ in our body. It is considered the seat of the Indriyas / sense organs and is literally the seat of sight, sense, touch, feeling and hearing. Skin is our first barrier layer and helps protect our internal organs from damage and bacteria. It is a marvel of bio engineering and hosts a massive colony of micro organisms . This colony helps ensure a constant pH of 5.5 on skin, with an acidic mantle that keeps harmful organisms away from us.

The skin and hair structure in children is one of the last major systems to be formed. The sweat glands which help regulate temperature, eliminate toxins from our body and help maintain the skin’s natural acid mantle takes upto 3 years to form. This means that babies stay sweet smelling longer, but this also means that their body does not have the mechanism to readily eliminate toxins like adults do.


This means that they can handle far smaller toxic loads than adults . Therefore it is critical to choose a safer, more natural skin care solution for babies. Genuine, carefully manufactured ayurvedic baby skin care products should be your first option

Ayurvedic baby care: a 5000 year old science

Sagar manthan: the Churning of the ocean from which Lord Dhanwantri rose and gave the world Ayurveda

Ayurveda is considered a divine science in India, handed down directly from the Gods to Man. Ayurveda has 8 branches of which “Kaumara bhrityam” or Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Child care forms an important branch.

While Kaumara bhrityam has been dealt with in portions of the Rig Veda and even Purana Granthas like the Garuda-Purana, Kumara-sambhava and even the Artha Shastra, the Ayurvedic text which has the most material devoted to Kaumarabhritya is the Kashyapa Samhita.

The Kashyapa samhita details many extensive and holistic child care practices: these include Taila Abhyanga Snana (oil massage + herbal bath), application of herbal powders on the baby after bath, dhupana / herbal fumigation of the nursery, how the baby’s linen and clothing must be washed, and further choice of toys, weaning practices, etc.

The Samhita deals with the entire period of childhood and covers all important samskaras (practices related to important milestones) in the child’s life from birth upto the age of 16.

Importance of Taila Abhyanga Snana in Ayurvedic baby care:

Ayurvedic baby massage is an integral part of baby skin care. Taila Abhyanga Snana (baby massage with oil followed by herbal bath) is advised to be done daily for a baby starting from the first week of birth. This means that a baby is never given a “dry bath”. The baby is always pre-massaged before a bath with a suitable ayurvedic taila (medicated oil).

At different stages of the baby’s development, the Taila Abhyanga snana offers different benefits. In the first 3 months, the Taila Abhyanga helps the  newborn get rid of the exhaustion after child birth. It also lends support to developing the baby’s microbiome colony in the skin as the products support healthy micro organisms as they colonise the baby’s skin, building the baby’s immunity and well being.

For the period between 3 – 6 months, Taila Abhyanga Snana helps in supporting sthira / stability in developing structures, like the ability of the neck to stay in place, healthy weight gain and further development of skin and other organs.

From 5-6 months onwards as the baby starts to turn, crawl, etc, the Taila Abhyanga snana helps in the healthy development of muscle, bone, joints, ligaments and connective tissue. It also imparts balya / strength to the child, helps eliminate fatigue, improves digestion and nutrient absorption. Throughout the period of childhood, a regular abhyanga promotes health and restorative sleep.

The deep connection between the Skin and the body as per Ayurveda:

The skin (Tvacha) in Ayurveda is said to be made of 6 layers. These 6 layers are formed from the blood while undergoing metabolic activity – this formation is described similar to the layers of cream that form when milk is boiled.

Therefore, in disorders of the skin, herbs and regimens that treat the blood at an underlying level are advised. Similarly, Ayurveda recognises that what is applied at an external level on the skin also has the twin capacity of treating the blood underneath . So, many blood based disorders are treated through herbal lepa (pastes) applied on the skin. This way, the herbs reach the blood and also influence the lymph secretions and the “rasa dhatu”.

Once we understand this connection, we also understand how critical it is to choose what we apply on baby’s skin. Chemical products and carcinogenic ingredients are highly unsafe and can damage baby’s health. On the contrary, a regular baby massage with an ayurvedic baby oil is safe and nourishing for baby’s skin. This practice also helps increase baby’s immunity, prevent infections and aid healthy bone and joint development.

The 5 tenets of Ayurvedic baby skin care:

Ayurveda recommends 5 tenets to care for your baby.

  1. Taila Abhyanga – baby massage using the correct ayurvedic baby massage oil
  2. Herbal Snana – Cleansing of baby’s skin using the correct ayurevdic baby ubtan followed by a bath using warm water or warm medicated water
  3. Purification of the nursery and surroundings using prayer, meditation and chanting
  4. Washing the baby’s linen and clothing using a prescribed mixture of herbs
  5. Fumigation of the nursery and baby’s clothing and linen using a prescribed mixture of herbs.

Each of the above steps are not just to care for baby’s skin. They also help build immunity, improve disease resistance, protect baby’s skin, keep down mucous accumulation and care for baby’s health.

Taila Abhyanga – Ayurvedic baby massage:

Ayurvedic baby massage - important tenet of ayurvedic baby care

The Ayurvedic baby massage routine restricts moisturisation to the pre bath taila abhyanga or oil massage. This is a very special feature of Ayurveda .

Taila Abhyanga - essential Ayurvedic baby care practice

Skin needs to constantly interact with the environment and continuously facilitate toxin removal.  Srotas are thin, tube like structures in skin, through which toxins are removed. For the srotas to do their job of toxin elimination and thermoregulation, they have to be clear, unlocked, flexible and in good health.

When we apply a moisturizing product after Snana, the Srotas can get clogged. If a petroleum based, synthetic moisturiser is used, the srotas are fully blocked. When srotas are blocked, the skin is unable to do heat exchange properly. This traps excess heat within the body. Skin is also unable to eliminate waste products properly.

Synthetic moisturisation products do not get absorbed well by the skin. So the top layers of the skin may have some oiliness. But the deeper layers of the skin and the Srotas may be un moisturised. So the Srotas are stiff and inflexible and unable to transport nutrition properly or do their job of elimination when synthetic skin products are used.

Both these problems are solved when we do an Ayurvedic Taila Abhyanga snana. The Abhyanga is done pre-bath, using a natural herb infused vegetable oil. This moisturises the skin deeply and keeps the srotas flexible. As there are no clogging substances, the skin is not improperly moisturised. As the product is applied pre bath, any excess oil is washed off during the bath, leaving the skin unimpaired and ready to function well.

Why is it preferable to use a well formulated ayurvedic baby oil over a plain vegetable oil like olive oil or coconut oil? Please do read the links we attached to find out more about this. 

Herbs chosen for the ayurvedic baby massage

Bala is a rejuvenative and deeply nourishing skin herb : excellent for an ayurvedic baby massage

The herbs chosen for an infant’s Ayurvedic baby massage are carefully selected. Bala is a commonly used herb in Baby oils in Ayurveda. Bala is a famous Ayurvedic herb that aids regulation of vata dosha. It removes muscle fatigue and exhaustion. Bala helps growing infants develop a healthy muscle and bone structure.

Bala (Sida cordifolia) - a powerful vata balancing and growth stimulating Ayurvedic herb

Manjishta is another common herb selected for an ayurvedic baby massage oil. Manjishta is an excellent herb that helps increase the microcirculation of the srotas in the skin, and improves the circulatory function. It is a good blood purifier and a famous “varnya” (complexion enhancing) herb.
Warming herbs like Tulsi often are used in preparations meant for infants. The Puranas compare Tulsi to “amrit” or the nectar that rose from the churning of the ocean and say just like amrit which gives ayu (long life), Tulsi is to be sought after and cherished.

Tulsi is a warming and kapha balancing herb - excellent for an ayurvedic baby massage
Tulsi - compared to "Amrit" in Indian tradition and revered for its ability to enhance physical endurance

Modern Science and research confirms what Ayurveda and long held Indian tradtion says about Tulsi: that it can cure both mental stress and enhance physical endurance. In ayurvedic baby skin care preparations, Tulsi helps boost the overall immune system. It also adds warmth to the body, and is an anti bacterial and insect repellent.

Krya’s products for an ayurvedic baby massage (Taila Abhyanga):

Krya has 3 products for Taila abhyanga for your baby. The products should be chosen depending on your child’s skin condition.

  • Krya traditional baby oil with Bala & Ashwagandha (for babies with normal skin)
    • Made using a traditional, Ayurveda inspired formulation, Krya’s traditional baby massage oil uses time tested, powerful Ayurvedic herbs like Bala, Ashwagandha Vacha, Tulsi and Manjishta for your baby’s daily Taila Abhyanga. Regular use helps keep skin healthy and nourished and support’s baby’s growing immunity and health.
Krya traditional baby massage oil with Bala and Ashwagandha - excellent for an ayurvedic baby massage

So how does one cleanse skin after Taila Abhyanga for baby? Do we use a baby soap? Oh, the Horror! Read more here about the 3 baby Snana choornams from Krya and how you can choose from them.  

To sum up: an introduction to ayurvedic baby massage

Baby massage is a key part of the 5000 year old Ayurvedic baby skin care routine . When this is practiced, baby’s skin and health are both benefited. This is especially critical in the first year of baby’s life.

The texts speak about multiple benefits of the Ayurvedic baby massage routine with an Ayurvedic taila. At an immediate level, the ayurvedic baby massage relieves exhaustion, balances excess vata dosha, reduces high pitta dosha and improves the baby’s appetite, digestive power and allows for peaceful, undisturbed sleep. As a bonus, the taila abhyanga is an excellent skin aid – with this regular practice, the skin’s health and functioning is maintained, without sacrificing cleanliness or its receptivity to the environment.

The process of Ayurvedic baby massage is also extremely enjoyable to the baby. So it helps establish the vital connection and emotional bond between a Mother and the baby. At a long term level, the Ayurvedic baby massage helps muscle development, correct minor growth deformities and aids proper growth and functioning of all large muscle groups and joints.

This was an introductory post on the benefits of Taila abhyanga for baby and why this is such a revered practice in Ayurvedic baby care. we hope you enjoyed reading this post and found it useful. If you have any questions , please email us or send us a WhatsApp message (+917550089090)

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Preethi Sukumaran
Preethi Sukumaran

Preethi is deeply committed to the formal study and application of the timeless principles of right living as laid down in the Ayurvedic canon. At Krya, her synthesis of ayurvedic principles with botanical expertise drives R&D & Product development.

We have over 100 proprietary formulations in the market today which are trusted and loved by our consumers.

Preethi is also deeply passionate about building Krya based on the Indic principle that Dharma leads to Artha ; we call this "Dharmic Entrepreneurship". She works with the Krya team on establishing Krya as one of the most trusted wellness brands in the categories we operate in.

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