· By Chiru Roy
Infant Skin-care Routine – The Ayurveda Way
An infant skin is so delicate and fragile that you are always worried if you are doing the right thing!
Every new mother goes through one common dilemma. To follow the traditional way of child care or new age techniques that are all doing the rounds on internet. Prefer our traditional system of child care, that is based on tenets of Ayurveda and has been practiced and proven since ages. It focuses on the overall well-being of the child and strengthens the child as he/she prepares for the world outside.
This blog details a few Ayurvedic ways for the care of your infant. We will especially focus on three major techniques for infant skin care- aate ki loi, abhyanga and snana with ubtan.
What is “aate ki loi”?
This is used for a child in the first month after birth. Wheat flour and turmeric are mixed to form a soft dough. This dough is dipped in oil (Sesame/mustard) and rolled all over the child’s body.
Why is loi used?
An infant younger than a month is very delicate, abhyanga may be a little hard on their tender body. Hence the loi which is softer than human hands, is used on the baby. The loi also helps remove excess hair (if any) from the infant’s skin. And its pain-free for the infant.
What is Abhyanga?
Abhyanga is the Sanskrit word for an oil massage. But, technically it differs from a simple massage because there is a particular motion of hands that has to be followed for different parts of the body.
When can we start abhyanga for an infant?
Abhyanga for an infant can start when he/she is a month old.
Which oil is best for abhyanga?
The oil used for massage varies among regions in India. While the Southern States use Sesame Oil, the northern states prefer to use Mustard oil. This is because of the climatic conditions. Sesame oil has cooling effects, which is better for the warm southern climate whereas, mustard oil keeps the baby warm. This suits the colder northern states.
Any specific areas that an abhyanga should concentrate on?
Traditionally the baby is made to sleep on the legs of the person giving him/her the abhyanga. In the first few months, the abhyanga concentrates on neck, waist, hands, legs, feet, spine, and back. This is because these areas need to be strengthened. Once the baby is able to hold his/her head the neck is given lesser attention. But hands, legs, feet, and spine are given importance at all times.
Is there a specific way to perform abhyanga?
The person giving abhyanga uses different hand movements for different areas of the body. For example, in the abdomen and buttock areas, they always use circular motions. Whereas they use long strokes for other parts of the body.
What are the benefits of abhyanga?
There are many benefits of abhyanga.
- It nourishes the skin and keeps it hydrated.
- It improves circulation of the blood
- Aids digestion and bowel movements
- Helps the baby sleep soundly.
What comes after abhyanga?
After abhyanga is snana or bath in warm/hot water. Note that the water’s temperature should be only as much as your child can bear it. It is a common practice in some parts of India to pour very hot water on the child. But this can be harmful to the child and also scald his/her delicate skin.
What can be used on the infant during Snana?
Ubtan. Ubtan is the safest for your infant’s skin.
Why Ubtan and why not baby-safe cosmetics?
There are no stringent checks in India on the safety parameters and use of chemicals in cosmetics. Hence we are not assured that baby cosmetics are free of parabens or other harmful chemicals.
How to make Ubtan?
The base of ubtan is either gram flour (besan) or green gram flour (whole moong flour). Another essential ingredient is turmeric. Mix in water and use it to wash both the baby’s body and hair. You can make the flours at home and use organic turmeric from a trusted source.
It is optional to add milk/cream to ubtan. Both of these ingredients act as moisturizing agents. So, you can add it if you feel your infant’s skin is dry.
What more can I use for my infant’s skin?
Up to 18 months of age abhyanga and snana with ubtan is just what your infant’s skin needs. As they grow older you can slowly shift to cold pressed Castile soaps that are made using natural ingredients. We recommend the unscented Castile soap from Vedi Herbals. This gentle and mild soap is a nourishing blend of organic coconut, olive oil and castor oil along with wild-crafted hempseed oil. It is unscented, vegan and chemical-free making it perfect for your baby’s skin.
So, follow these rituals for your infant and rest assured of healthy skin with improved digestion, sleep, immunity and bones.